Prospective mission students at Oklahoma Christian University explored what God is doing in the world today and through one another at this year’s annual GO Retreat.
The GO Retreat began in 2011 by Outreach, Oklahoma Christian’s student-run missions organization, after they recognized the need for missions students to have the opportunity to share their experiences, and for prospective missions students to learn more about the mission field.
“It serves the purpose of bringing people together who have done mission trips,” Director of the Center for Global Missions Ben Langford said. “It’s for those who have gone and those who want to go.”
This year’s theme is “Next.” Langford said he chose this theme to encourage students to take further steps towards mission work, as well as to inspire others to take the first step into missions.
“It encourages people by giving them a vision of what they could be in God’s mission and how they can get involved,” Langford said. “But also when you’re around people who are interested in the same things, it builds momentum and energy.”
Langford said the retreat is intended to be a reflective weekend with times of worship, serving and sharing.
“Mission work is hard,” Langford said. “There are things you struggle with, questions you have about the world, or about God, and we want to be able to talk about those things.”
The retreat took place this past weekend in downtown Oklahoma City at the Refuge — a community of Christian believers who live near the City Refuge Mission in order to minister to the mission’s patrons.
Those who attended the retreat had the opportunity to play dodge ball in an old airplane hanger, share their testimonies, serve with the Refuge in the local community and listen to Oklahoma Christian Dean of Spiritual Life Jeff McMillon speak on life after returning from a mission trip.
McMillon said mission trips should ignite a change inside a person and give them a new perspective.
“If I just go to Africa and do a mission trip, it’s amazing,” McMillon said. “But if it doesn’t affect who I am and what I do from that point forward, to me that’s not the full benefit.”
According to McMillon, the GO Retreat allows students to take intentional steps in developing their faith.
“I’m not just going to let faith happen to me,” McMillon said. “I’m going to do something about taking the next steps to grow in my faith and be active in how I live it out.”
McMillon said the retreat is not just centered on mission work in the foreign mission field, but also the local mission field.
“People that go to this retreat get motivated to do something and it doesn’t have to be foreign,” McMillon said. “It can be local, right here.”
President of Outreach Madeline Decker said the retreat is important because it gives students an outlet to share mutual experiences and better understand each other’s experiences.
“They can’t comprehend what experience you’ve had,” Decker said. “The GO Retreat gives you that chance to connect with people on a level that they understand.”
Decker said through the GO Retreat she has met several people who are now some of her closest friends.
“I’ve made friends that I wouldn’t have made friends with otherwise,” Decker said. “I’ve connected to these people through little group discussions and now I can see them outside and we’re friends.”
According to Decker, this year’s theme will teach students how to continue the spiritual high they develop after returning from a mission trip.
“When you come back from a mission trip, you have this spiritual high, it’s like church camp,” Decker said. “You go and you have a spiritual high, and for a week you just want to do everything good, and then you fall back a little bit. This year’s theme is going to help keep that somewhat of a spiritual high after everything that has gone on.”