This summer, 144 young people and their leaders traveled to Rosewood Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower, Calf., for Renew16@Rosewood, a week of Bible study, service learning, and worship. The retreat, held July 16-24, drew participants ages 14 to 20 from Canada, Iowa, and Michigan.
Rev. Bonny Mulder-Behnia, executive pastor of Rosewood and Renew host team coordinator, said the goals of the retreat were two-fold: “First, to make space for our own youth, who represent many different cultures and ethnic groups, to renew their relationships with God in an accepting environment. Second, [to] invite youth from other churches to learn from our diverse church and community and partner with us in blessing our neighborhood and bringing hope.”
"Establishing friendships with people across the world is without a doubt one of the biggest highlights of Renew, said James Patten, a student who attends Rehoboth CRC. “Despite all the differences that come from living in a different state or country, we're still able to connect and worship the same heavenly father,” he added.
Youth and leaders were divided into smaller groups of 6 or 7, with whom they studied and served daily. The groups worked in family homes in the surrounding community. Youth and their leaders were encouraged to invite community members to join them on Friday for a Fiesta and Worship Celebration. Seventy members of the community attended.
Pastor Bonny stated, “We also had the incredible privilege of praying with youth and people from the neighborhood who made the decision to come forward and commit or recommit their lives to Christ. One woman asked me, after praying to receive Christ: ‘Would you teach me how to pray?’ What could be better?"