More than 50 students made decisions during Replicate, Sept. 22-24. (Submitted)
Editor’s note: This article was written by Mitchell Waite, marketing supervisor for Camp Siloam.
Seeing a student retreat like Replicate grow in numbers from the previous year is always encouraging. What is even more encouraging is to see active engagement from the students’ laughter and smiles throughout the weekend and their obedience to surrender to a life of following Jesus Christ.
Fifty-four students made decisions during the weekend of Sept. 22-24. Twenty of those were professions of faith, 25 were recommitments, and nine were answering a call to the ministry. It is easy to say that the Lord worked at Replicate 2023.
As someone who handles photography and video for a retreat like this, I have the blessing of being around to witness and capture all the fun and spiritual moments. Whether it’s students competing in a game of Gaga Ball or raising their hands high in worship, I get to be there to eternalize it through photo or video.
One small aspect that makes each picture or video clip even more special is the fact that no student has their phone in their hand, scrolling through a multitude of distractions. Yes, Camp Siloam has a policy to keep students off their phones, but to see teenagers obey that and embrace time with others and the Lord was uplifting.
During the last evening service, speaker Shane Pruitt spoke on what it means to be a true follower of Jesus, specifically as a teenager. He made a statement that really caught my attention. He said, “They say that you need to be invested in because you are the future church. But actually, you can be the church right now!” He went on to explain that each student, as a Christian, can be the church where they are, whether it’s at school, in sports, at home, the list goes on. I left the service inspired by the reminder. It caused me to reflect on the many moments I saw where students had the willingness to show a love and obedience to follow God.
With all the chaos and evil in our world, it can leave one to wonder what will become of the younger generations. But at a retreat like Replicate, where students are taught and encouraged to be a beacon for the Gospel, hope can be seen. It’s a hope that the students who came to accept Jesus into their hearts will take what they’ve learned and share it with those around them. It’s a hope that the students who have been Christians will leave wanting to live separately from the world. It’s the hope that the students who are called to the ministry will connect and cultivate spreading of the gospel.
My biggest take away from Replicate 2023, was not the growth from the year previous, it was the reminder of how capable students are of being the church right where they are. But not only are they capable, they’re willing.