This weekend, 131 adolescents attended a retreat, led by One21, Back2Back Monterrey staff and our Hope Program students, where they were taught through experience, worship, testimonies and stories that they are young and free! Everything—from capture the flag to stories of overcoming lies with truth, from the giant zipline to dancing as we sang worship songs at the top of our lungs—communicated freedom and liberated the “kid” in all of us.
We also learned that freedom doesn’t come without a fight (in a completely non-patriotic sense). Chris, the pastor of One21, shared the story of Jacob wrestling with God and refusing to let go until he was blessed, while Mario, a hope program student, shared his story of wrestling with God about his past and ultimately releasing the bitterness and anger he held inside, forgiving his mother. Their words gave voice to the unidentified battle which is being waged within many of our precious children- fights with God and with lies that they believe- the same ones that outwardly manifest themselves in anger, disconnectedness, behavior problems…
On Saturday night, each student was invited to let go of their personal obstacle to freedom—creating a monument to their decision to fight with God, wrestling until they have received the blessing and freedom that He offers. Their monument came in the form of a bonfire and many pieces of scrap paper, on which they had written down their battle, whatever holds them back from being free. As we gathered around the fire pit, each teen was ready with their secret paper, ready to let go, to start the journey towards freedom no matter how long it would take.
Reminding them that the act of burning paper is not what brings freedom, but rather represents a step toward it, the students were released to let it go, watch it burn in the flames. As soon as the word was spoken, I sat back as the crowd rushed toward the fire, nearly jumping and running to place that burden in the burning logs. As the first large group threw in their papers, the only thing visible was a mass of sparks that were released from the fire, floating above our heads. As they found their seats, I found myself thinking of the sparks that flew freely—a symbol of the initial spark of freedom, whose journey was continued by the raging flames and fight below.
Sweet release. Young and free. Still fighting for freedom.
Please join us in praying for our kids as they continue to wrestle with the Lord and plead for freedom.