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Men’s, women’s retreats bring students closer to God
April 07, 2003
By Erika Nelson
Boyce College men fellowship around the campfire during their recent retreat
'M 21-22' did not stand for chapters in the Old Testament book of Malachi, the name of a new alternative rock band, or a type of machine gun.
The creative promotional campaign led by the Boyce student life staff made it hard to miss the fact that 'M 21-22' stood for March 21-22, 2003 -- the weekend of the first Boyce College men’s and women’s retreats.
A good deal of planning, hard work and prayer went into the retreats to help make the weekend a success.
Eighteen Boyce women left the afternoon of March 21 for General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Ky., while around 20 Boyce men headed to Jefferson County Forest.
Kristin Wicker, the Boyce women’s student life coordinator, suggested doing a student retreat because she had been on a number of retreats during her undergraduate days at Union University and said they were always a significant part of her school year and spiritual walk.
Wicker and Jonathan Leeman, the Boyce men’s student life coordinator, had the help of student leadership teams to plan and organize different aspects of the retreat.
Wicker and a number of Boyce women also started praying for the retreats early on.
“I hadn’t told Kristin this before the retreat, but while in the planning stages, I kept thinking that the women’s retreat is going to rock because Kristin and her girls are praying so much,” Leeman said.
The theme of the women’s retreat was “Biblical Womanhood in the Context of a Calling to Ministry.” Wicker said she had the theme before she started planning other aspects of the weekend.
“I had a burden to see the girls have a clear understanding of what it is like to be a woman in ministry and how this plays out at school and in their classes,” Wicker said.
Danielle Gillespie, a junior at Boyce, said the theme of the retreat was part of the reason she went.
“I’ve done a lot of reading into the topic, and it was a reminder for me of the chapters in Genesis that help define a woman’s role in ministry,” Gillespie said. “The topic was one that we wouldn’t necessarily learn about in the classroom and for a lot of the girls who went, it was the first time they heard this stuff.”
Along with hearing from Janet Wicker, the guest speaker for the retreat, the women spent time in worship and small group sessions.
Gillespie said the small groups were the highlight of the weekend for her.
“I learned so much from the girls in my group,” said Gillespie. “We were sharing a lot of the same struggles, and it was neat to see where everybody was at. We prayed for each other and shared Scripture.”
For the men’s retreat, Leeman had two goals: unity and fellowship.
In the devotional time, Leeman discussed what it was to be a “Cross-centered” man, which he said is equivalent to being a godly man, and how the men should spur one another on to love and good deeds.
“If life isn’t about spurring others around you to love and good deeds, you don’t know what being a Christian is,” Leeman said. “I challenged the guys to ask themselves what affect they have on others around them.”
Josh Ryherd, a senior at Boyce, said the topic Leeman chose was “appropriate and something Boyce guys need to hear.”
Along with spiritual growth, both retreats allowed students the chance to relax and have fun.
The men’s idea of “fun,” however, was somewhat more primitive than the women’s.
Sleeping out under the stars, cooking raw meat mixed with potatoes and carrots (a.k.a. “hobos” when fully cooked) and participating in a yelping contest to try and out-yelp Leeman were all events that made the first Boyce men’s retreat memorable.
“I had a lot of fun, came home with a few scars, made friendships with a couple of guys that I didn’t have before and learned how to make the best camp food ever,” Ryherd said.
The women’s retreat, while less primitive in nature, didn’t involve the “typical girl thing like painting our nails,” Gillespie said.
The women participated in arm wrestling, “Indian” leg wrestling and a lot of weird games, said Gillespie and Wicker.
Overall, the feedback Wicker and Leeman have received from students tells them the retreats were a success.
“The response was positive,” Wicker said. “One evaluation I received from a woman who went on retreat read, ‘The weekend revolutionized my heart and mind.’”
Ryherd said students who didn’t go on retreat missed out.
“We had fun the way it was, but I would like to see more of the guys go in the future,” Ryherd said. “I’ll be at the seminary next year, but will ask Jonathan if I can go again.”