Churches combine efforts for Castaway retreat
    July 9 2008 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    Contributed Photo
    Emily Brand of Beaufort First Baptist Church, left, and Justin Furr of Concord First Baptist Church test their "heartiness" against each other by eating mystery foods during a creative, multi-church "Castaway" retreat.
    Your ship has wrecked on a deserted island. You and your fellow castaways salvage only a few scarce resources to survive.

    Now survivors from a second shipwreck threaten your own ability to stay alive. How will there be enough for all of you? Can you put differences aside to work together?

    Young people from three churches enacted this scenario on an island during a creative retreat in June, combining competition in tribal games with "fear factor" elements. Students learned to lay aside differences in favor of unity.

    Bible studies and games focused on finding real survival in life through Jesus Christ, and the church working together to that end.

    As students at Gardner-Webb University Travis Crocker and Jonathan Hale tossed around ministry ideas that students would find both creative and meaningful.

    Crocker, now student family minister at First Baptist Church in Beaufort, says he and Hale did an island themed lock-in back then to lead students to find their survival in Jesus.

    Now on staff in Beaufort, Crocker was sifting his "this worked" file and realized being just a block from the water and he and his friend Hale - now family life minister of First Baptist Church, Concord - could upgrade and repeat the retreat on an empty island. He test-drove the idea with his own group first to great success.

    Crocker suggested Hale bring his group to the coast for a retreat, but surprise them with the location, which would be Cape Lookout. Crocker's group, having experience, would assume the role of the first shipwrecked survivors. On the island they set up camp and donned war paint. Some truly looked like castaways and became territorial, said Crocker.

    Youth and pastor Mike Willard from Smyrna Missionary Baptist joined Crocker's group as original survivors.

    When First Baptist Concord arrived in Beaufort, they were told their host church was unable to make the retreat after all. Meanwhile, the hosts enjoyed a beach cookout and Crocker stayed in contact with Hale through text messages.

    At the right time, the first group hid in the dunes, watching. Hale's group arrived and conducted a scavenger hunt for items "washed to shore" from their shipwreck.

    Meandering the island in search of final items, the Concord group was ambushed by the Beaufort and Smyrna youth yelling war cries and carrying torches.

    "We dramatized a confrontation where we would not accept them to work beside us and believed only one group could survive," Crocker said.

    That set up contests through tribal games such as relay races and the Concord group eating unpalatable items quickly to show they were hearty enough to join the island's first survivors.

    They had to feed their leaders, while blind folded and eventually, the newcomers earned the right to work with the Beaufort veterans.

    Crocker and Hale led Bible studies with a unique flavor of "Castway" and "Lost." Students learned about seeking God instead of the culture and finding in God the bread of life, living water, and fire of the Holy Spirit.

    A significant theme was being the body of Christ together, instead of spending energy on differences.

    "All three churches got along together as one big group," Crocker said. "It was wonderful getting to interact in such a way."
    7/9/2008 12:00:00 PM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

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