Surrender—suffering—loss—resurrection—journey; these were the themes of our recent retreat in Kenya. The same themes of Jesus’ life. His “heartbeat” for us, recounted in our Easter celebrations and in our lives every day as we respond to His call to “come, pick up your cross daily and follow me”.
We recently made a trip to Mombasa, Kenya for our company retreat with our organization, Serge. All those who work under Serge in East Africa came together for five days to recalibrate, retreat and re-engage with one another in encouragement, prayer and renewal. This graphic that resembles an EKG, created by Lianna Masso, captured the themes that shaped our meeting times together.
Team leaders, like us, arrived early for a training session for several days. Then everyone else from our different teams arrived for the five days of retreat. The day in between was a real highlight as there was an outing planned–snorkeling at one of Kenya’s Wildlife Parks. Nearly everyone went out to the coral reef islands in the beautiful Indian Ocean.
We snorkeled in the beautiful, turquoise water and played on a sandbar. The color of the water was amazing as was the incredible sea life we saw. It’s difficult to put into words the beauty, diversity and variety of God’s creation in these waters.
After snorkeling we were taken to one of the islands for a wonderfully delicious seafood lunch with wooden bowls of fresh crabs for the appetizer and grilled fish. I could have just eaten all the crab!
Returning to the resort which hosted our retreat, we began the opening night on Thursday, the day of Passover (and the Last Supper) with the first theme of the retreat–surrender. Our Area Directors had prepared a Passover Seder for us, on the beach, under a beautiful full moon. We remembered how Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples and fulfilled in Himself all the parts of the Seder meal.
Each day there was a devotional given around one of the retreat themes, followed by an hour of personal time to think, pray, reflect. In the afternoons there was free time for recreation and socializing with others. Then we gathered before dinner to pray for each team and the country they serve in.
It was such an encouraging time to be together, to engage with one another over the highs and lows of the things we experience living outside our own culture and trying to be the heartbeat of Jesus to those we live among. Some had been experiencing great hardships due to political tensions or illness or unexpected harassment on top of the usual cultural misunderstandings, language learning difficulties and misperceptions. And to do all of this over the days of “the passion of Jesus”, when he humbled himself in suffering, death and resurrection, illuminated these themes even more. This is now our “journey”, his heartbeat in us, calling us to “come and die, serve and live”.
Grateful for this time, we return to our work, relationships and lives here with renewed vision, encouragement and energy; hoping to live daily out of Jesus’ heartbeat and love. (Make no mistake, there’s been no shortage of opportunities to apply these themes as Randy returned to counseling students over their progress in medicine, I to mid-term exams, all amongst growing tensions as June elections approach. Please pray for peace in Burundi.)