In March, 100 teens from Lynden, Wash., hosted 50 inner-city Seattle teens for a weekend that included worship, paintball games, four-wheeling, and horseback riding.
The youth retreat began with the breaking down of a cinder block wall. Just as the cinder block wall was dismantled, the walls of hesitation, fear, and stereotyping were broken down over the course of the weekend.
“We all realized that we are called to make decisions and take actions to change our life, lifestyle, and preconceived ideas,” said Mike Slofstra, youth pastor for Sonlight Community Christian Reformed Church in Lynden. Teens from his church were at the retreat.
Teens from Lynden’s Bethel CRC and Third CRC also joined in the retreat, which was organized by Whatcom Unite—a group of seven churches that have a monthly program to bring youths together across denominational lines.
The Lynden/Seattle retreat came out of a friendship between Slofstra and two Seattle youth workers. “We realized that our students live geographically close together and yet live in and reflect such different worlds,” Slofstra said.
Whatcom Unite plans to make this retreat an annual event. Next time the Lynden teens will be hosted by their new Seattle friends.
Slofstra is encouraged that young people such as these will be the future leaders of our churches. “Our capacity to love is connected to our ability to know, and this was a start in getting to know each other.”