Report: Whole Life Recovery Retreat, Alabama, 2019
Greetings from Alabama,
Partnering with Odyssey in Christ, New Outlook Christian Fellowship held a Deeper Walk Retreat (Whole Life Recovery) March 1-3, 2019 at Camp Sumatanga (in Gallant, Alabama). Located in a rural setting the group met on Friday evening and shared the evening meal (which served as the initial meet and greet); the Retreat wrapped up around 1:00 pm on Sunday.
This Retreat was designed using a Christ-Centered Recovery Program called Life More Abundant (LMA) as the central theme, so to speak. The motto of LMA is "We Are All Recovering From Something". The presenters for the weekend were: Dr. Larry Hinkle, Gracie Johnson, Tom Fallon and Rannie Childress.
The attendance was a mix of several married couples and men that are in recovery from substance abuse and a few counselors from the local treatment centers as well as some church members from the local GCI congregations (one couple from the Cookesville, TN. Congregation). The mix was folks with long histories with the Church and many unchurched participants.
As the weekend progressed it was obvious that the Holy Spirit was present and at work in the lives of all in attendance. A lot of tears were shed by those being 'touched' by the Presence of Jesus and His revelation to individuals as to what they were meant to receive from this weekend.
Examples of comments that have been made are: "I learned to slow down and hear God.", "It taught me valuable insight into myself and what I have been missing.". Other comments were: "This was life changing.", "I have been needing this for a long time." One individual stated that this was "better than any drug I have ever tried" and another "I am still high from the weekend.", another "When are you having another Retreat?"
As a counselor and a pastor I work with men and women on a daily basis that are seeking various ways to 'feel whole' (ie ... through drugs/alcohol, all types of sins/wrongdoings that give temporary relief from 'pain'); and they all fall short. The weekend really helped those in attendance to 'slow down' and allow God time in our lives; in our thoughts; in everything that we do the weekend taught those in attendance to 'BE' and that our 'Doing' will come out of our 'Being'. I am sending along a letter (below) that was given to me by one of the participants (as is, unedited), one of the 'Recovering' addicts in attendance. We look forward to the next one and hope that 'Whole Life Recovery' Retreats may be something that would help in other locations. Please pray for God's guidance and direction.
I would recommend Odyssey in Christ Retreats to anyone from any Church group and/or individuals. Please pray for and financially support OIC as you are able.
Rannie Childress, MS, SCADC, MAC, SAP Pastor New Outlook
From a participant who is in recovery:
During the Deeper walk retreat I felt that it provided me a learning opportunity to know myself my (true identity). As the weekend went on I felt a strong presence of Christ closely beside me. I felt as though he (Christ) was drawing me in bringing me to feel whole. I just felt like I had no problems my mind was clear. All my personal family business was cleared out of my mind and I felt free to concentrate on Jesus and myself for a change.
Pastor Larry's tips on meditation really helped me to clear my thoughts to be able to bring god into my heart. Like putting your hands on your heart. I gained a lot of knowledge from Tom on meditating like being alone in solitude. These things bring me closer to God as I understand him. The tips on meditative prayer having a safe place to pray (awesome). Having a safe and secure place to pray where no one see's you this helps me to block out everything to feel Gods presence.
Gracie's music was awesome the words as I closely listened I realized that I could relate in some way. The way she spoke softly and her smile I could tell that she was so blessed with the holy spirit it made me feel comfortable being there. One of the main things that she asked us to do that I got a lot from was, the nature walk in solitude. As I was walking only concentrating on the woods and the road in front of me I realized if I veer of the path he set in front of me there is only destruction. The story that you told us about the people in the cave was awesome and the gunny sack good stuff. That song by Kenny Chesney (Better Boat) I listen to it every morning it's a great song.
To sum this up I feel that the retreat pulled me back in spiritually made me feel whole again. I can say that if I practice what I learned that my life will be more abundant. I feel that I can reflect on the things that God wants me to know by just breathing in and breathing out and having a safe place to pray. If I just slow down and let go and let God. I'm able to live life more abundant and at peace.
From Tom Fallon, one of the retreat presenters:
God met his people in the beautiful hills of Alabama. A mixed multitude of young and old; churched and unchurched; married and single came together and allowed the Triune God to pour His love on us. One of the themes of the retreat was "We are all recovering from something." As a community, we learned the tools to experience our whole life as being recovered already thanks to Christ. We need to slow down and "be still" so that we can know how much God loves us. The Whole Life Recovery Retreat gave us a wonderful opportunity to know how much we are loved.