On January 13-16, campus students took a “break” from their first week back at school and headed to the African-themed waterpark resort that is Kalahari for the annual Ministers Retreat. Kalahari is a nice tropical get away from the cold weather outside where we could escape to the spa, restaurant or conference center. The Kalahari resort and conference center is the largest of its kind in Ohio. We came here for Ministers and Pastor’s Kids (PK) Retreat. It is a time for Ohio pastors to come together to be refreshed and fellowship with one another. It is a chance for their kids to do so, as well. Our two worship teams, Team O-H and Team Fire, had the honor of leading worship for the teens.

One member of Team O-H, Chloe Gambrell—a former PK herself—told us about how it felt leading worship. “Being at PK retreat is different (this year). I’ve gone for 6 years…My senior year I thought how cool it would be leading worship here and little did I know, a year later, here I am leading it.”

This is the first year SEU Ohio has had a worship team, so this was a big honor. This was the first state-wide event they had the chance to lead. Band member, Ethan DeLeon, described it as a “humbling experience to minister to people who are constantly ministering to others all over the state.” Getting the opportunity to lead this event was a tangible expression of the neighborly partnership between SEU Ohio and Ohio Youth Ministry, sponsors of the PK Retreat.

Another worship team member, Jazmynn Wilson, described the worship experience: “Being able to lead so many young students who have the desire to seek after the Lord in worship was such an honor and a blessing from God. The reason God has blessed us with the giftings and abilities we have, is so that we can lead others into an atmosphere of praising Him. I cannot wait for more opportunities to be able to use the gifts God has given us to glorify and advance HIS kingdom!”

It was an awesome time of coming together in community, growing relationships, and seeking the Lord. Sunday night, upon arrival in Sandusky, SEU students helped unpack the vans and set up for worship. After getting all unpacked and settled in, we had a worship night of our own, pressing in to God and praying for all the teens that would arrive the next morning.

Monday began with a home-cooked family breakfast, followed by a day spent at the waterpark. That night, we split up between the main service for ministers and the PK service for teens. In the PK service, we had the honor of listening to Youth Alive Director and SEU Ohio Resident Director, Chad Tusing, speak on taking us to the ER: Encounter and Renewal.

Chad’s message on Monday was all about encountering God and coming to Him. Though it may have been for the students, it still spoke to us as college students of pressing in.

Tuesday we started with breakfast prepared by the SEU Ohio staff, followed by a class, and then we spent the rest of the day at the waterpark again, until service in the evening when we heard Chad speak—this time on Renewal. He brought the Word, convicting each of us to renew our hearts with God.

Overall, it was a weekend of connecting. With new students who started the second semester, it was a chance to grow our relationships and expand the family. Most importantly, though, we had time to just breathe, relax and connect with God. On top of that, we got the chance to connect with Ohio teens and pour into them a little bit. Having dinner with all of the high school seniors on our final night gave us a chance to speak with them, give them some advice and get to see their hearts.

The retreat was an event that really opened our eyes and, at least for me, solidified my heart for youth. Getting to pray over them and take on that leadership role, it hit my heart again that I could be content helping teens fall in love with Jesus.

One senior, Rachel Kleahn, gave me a little insight on what PK Retreat has meant to her over the years: “As a senior, PK retreat means so much because it’s a time I get to be with people that understand what I go through, and I can understand them, too. I’ve made great friends, people that I hope will be in my life for a long time. I can talk to them about what I am going through and I know they’ll give me great advice. Retreat also lets me get away from school and stress, allowing me to get in deep with God. Overall, PK retreat has been fun, amazing and God-centered.”

It was also a time full of laughs, jokes and bonding. Times like these make me so thankful to have chosen a school like SEU Ohio where we truly are a family.

Abigail Stout, SEU Ohio student leader