By Jason Wilkie Executive Director, Camp Siloam
It was dark and I still had not found a place to pitch my tent. I was just a few miles down the Ozark Mountain trail from my car, but I had gotten a late start and light had faded. I was making my way through the woods with my headlamp when off to my right, down in a small gulley I heard a noise; a big noise. There was a crashing of branches. My heart started racing. It sounded as if the noise was coming toward the trail. My light turned into the thick brush, but I couldn’t see anything. I made a bunch of noise and stomped my feet to ward off the grizzly bear I imagined was coming toward me. (I know there are know grizzlies in Arkansas, but in that moment your mind runs wild) The noise stopped and I marched on, looking behind me to see if the animal was following me. Nothing was there. It was quiet. It looked as if I would be safe.
There are moments when you are alone in the wilderness where you become quick to pray. Walking alone in the woods at night when the moon is full is quite a thrill. When you realize how noisy a squirrel, or an armadillo can be solitude in the woods is not quite so un-nerving.
I doubt if Jesus was afraid to be alone in the woods at night. I can imagine if one could call a legion of angels to help out in a sticky situation it would bring quite a bit of confidence. The Gospels tell us that Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness to pray. (Luke 5:16) He also like to pray on a mountain. (Luke 6:12, Matthew 14, Luke 9:28). I picture him alone in these moments, with The Father, because it says he withdrew to pray. News was spreading about him. Crowds were around him constantly and he needed time alone, with the Father.
I believe withdrawing or retreating to spend time with the Father is important for spiritual growth. I have a prayer plan that includes retreat. I have found I have to fight for it. It seems as if busyness is my temptation. It is as if my inner Martha is fighting for the controls with my inner Mary.
The point of all of this is that retreat is worth it.
I want to encourage you to call us and schedule a personal pastoral prayer retreat with us. We have eight beautiful, newly renovated hotel rooms. They are free to any Arkansas Baptist pastor because this is your camp. I want to encourage to you to call us and schedule a fellowship and teaching retreat for your adults. Your people miss gathering together. We can do it according to the directives of the State of Arkansas. It’s worth it! You can’t put a price on the friendships and the unity that comes out of spending time together in retreat.
Bring your youth or your children to Camp Siloam for a weekend. If you missed out on summer camp this summer, then make it up to your youth on a weekend retreat. We are perfectly set up to serve kids.
Camp Siloam is a place where the presence of the Lord is strong. It is a place set apart by Arkansas Baptists for the glory of God. A place that the Father is blessing because Arkansas Baptists have put the name of Jesus high for the last 97 years. Exodus 20:24 says, “Where I cause my name to be remembered I will come and bless that place.” It’s as if the Father honors that promise at Camp Siloam.
Without summer camp the staff at Camp Siloam is leaning into our ability to host great retreats. We can host three groups of 100 according to the Arkansas State Directives. Call us and let us serve you and your congregation in retreat at Camp Siloam.
If there is one thing we’ve realized with the virus crisis it is how much we enjoy gathering together. As you consider the future of ministry please don’t forget the power of retreat as part of your church’s ministry mix. If it was worth it to Jesus our savior to retreat from the crowds, slow down and spend time with His Father, then how much more should it be worth it to all of us?