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2017 FAYA Retreat: A Clearer Picture of God

We are FAYA: Fellowship of Adventist Young Adults. By God’s blessings, we were able to hold our initial retreat from January 13-16 at Summit Lake Christian Camp in Emmitsburg, MD. Thirty-nine young adults, including our speaker, of all ages and walks of life gathered together to fellowship with each other through worship, open discussions, Bible study small groups, fun bonding activities and personal time with God. Our goal for the retreat was to make Young Adult (YA) ministry relevant again. We desired to provide a welcoming community for YAs in the church and out of the church, to build a network of peers, and create a strong support system for YAs. Our target was YAs on the East Coast. Praise God that the retreat turned out to be a success! It is a small yet encouraging step in the direction for reviving the faith among YAs in our Korean Seventh-day Adventist community.

FAYA Retreat started as any other retreat in regards to the schedule: there were icebreakers, meals, worship, small groups and activities. What made this retreat unique was the fruits from the presence of the Holy Spirit and how God answered so many prayers in His miraculous ways. We were expecting snow or freezing rain during the travel to the camp, but God held it back until all the attendees had arrived safely. Also, everyone returned home safely, even those who left early when the roads were still icy and slippery. Three attendees became ill, but thankfully there was a doctor among us who diagnosed and treated them. All three recovered quickly and stayed for the remainder of the retreat.

From the conception of the retreat, the planning committee set a goal to raise $5,000. We wanted to greatly subsidize the cost of attending so that it would be affordable, and that a lack of finances would not be an issue for anyone to attend. Right up until the week of the retreat, we were short of our goal. But suddenly, donations started pouring in, even from donors we had not asked! At the final count, we exceeded our goal and now we have excess saved for future retreats. Some of the extra money were also used to accommodate vegetarian or vegan attendees because of the limited menu at the retreat center, as well as other expenses for the retreat. The committee could only attribute this miracle to God and his grace toward us that moved people’s hearts to give to our new ministry.

At least three attendees were unsure if their schedules could be changed to attend the retreat. But by prayer and God’s intervention, all three attended the retreat. Another miracle was that we had a praise team formed a few weeks before the retreat. We were nervous how it would work out, but the praise team was excellent which made for a Spirit-filled worship experience. Attendees also liked the freedom to participate in the activities, or not. This retreat was for them. It didn’t matter where you were in your Christian walk, whether you had been a Christian all your life or whether you didn’t even believe in a God; everyone was invited and welcomed. It was your choice to participate. Praise God that everyone attended most of the meetings, especially the worship services. The open-minded and accepting environment was appreciated and impressive.

Even having a speaker for the retreat was by God’s grace. Our original speaker was not able to attend, so we were heading into the last week without one. We contacted Eric Chung, an elder at the Westchester Korean Seventh-day Adventist church in New York, and he answered the call and made time in his busy schedule to attend at the last minute. We didn’t know what to expect, but the Holy Spirit spoke powerfully through Elder Chung, who had little time to prepare. He confessed that he did not prepare for any of his talks. He was walking out in faith for the Holy Spirit to speak through him at this retreat. God had been preparing his heart all along to speak from his encounters with Jesus and to share his testimonies of a God that is love.

Elder Chung unraveled to us a story of a conversation he had with an attendee in the car ride to the retreat. The conversation dealt with the existence of God, and the question, “If there are over 30,000 denominations within Christianity, let alone the existence of many other religions, then how do we know who is right?” It led to the asking of a fundamental question: “How do we know that what we know is true?” Elder Chung proposed that everyone starts with assumptions, and the only way to find a starting point for a fair and intellectually honest discussion was to throw out all assumptions and start from nothing. Having done that, he and the other person agreed that what is true, or what is right, begins with the principle of love. Not just any kind of love, but more clearly the self-sacrificing, other-centered kind of love. And the argument is that we can see the greatest example and demonstration of this love in Jesus on the Cross.

Elder Chung confessed his belief in a God, the God of the Bible, and how much this God loves him on a personal level. He shared his testimony of how he grew up in the Adventist faith, but came to a point where he didn’t think he was going to be saved. Elder Chung became close with a friend in college, and even though he didn’t believe that he himself would be saved, he still wanted to tell his friend about the truth Elder Chung had come to believe in, so that that friend would be saved. It was because his friend simply wanted to know more about Adventism that on a providential Sabbath morning, God led Elder Chung and his friend back to an Adventist church where he heard the congregation singing the hymn ‘Lord, I’m Coming Home’, a song that perfectly resonated with his heart, telling him that God truly loved him and had forgiven him.

Elder Chung concluded his talks by affirming the claim that the gospel is a practical religion. A powerful testimony was shared of how the gospel turned a friend’s life around from guilt and despair to hope and forgiveness, simply through a Bible study over the phone. They discovered the answer to the question, “Why is there evil and suffering?” and they also encountered a God of grace and mercy who is the solution to the problem. We don’t deserve His kindness or salvation, but He offers it to us to us freely, and all who confess openly and believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead, they will be saved. [Romans 10:9-10] Families were reconciled, salvation was received, and now his friend is giving the same Bible studies that he had rejected initially. Elder Chung capped off the meetings with a Bible verse that was common in all the messages throughout the retreat. The verse is found in Romans 1:16, which says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes...”

After all that planning, stressing, and lots of prayer, our first FAYA retreat is behind us. We won’t forget the warm memories, bonds and friendships that were made. One person confessed a desire to keep attending church and start a bible study. Another person confessed for a relationship with Jesus again. Small group Bible studies have been formed, and we’ve held weekly online meetings. God has been so good to us with the retreat, but these testimonies are the real miracles. God is alive and He’s still on the throne, saving souls even today. We hope that this is the beginning of more retreats and revival in the Young Adult Korean SDA community.

God has guided us from the conception to the current Bible Study groups. As our parents’ generation and their parents have gone before us, we feel that God is forging in us our own identity as pioneers of a new generation of believers. We come from different backgrounds, locations, and various walks of life. Instead of focusing on our earthly identities, which were largely Korean-American SDAs, we instead bonded as children who share the same Father, a family in Christ. The love of God drew us together; His irresistible, incomparable love, demonstrated most clearly by Jesus in His life on earth, His death on the Cross, and His resurrection from the grave. Jesus continues to be and always will be the One who attracts us to God. We put our faith in Him and His promises that God will complete the good work that He began in us until the very day He returns in the clouds again and calls us home.

Thank you to our Donors:
Thank you, God for being our Supreme Provider. Everything begins and ends with You. We want to especially say thank you to our beloved donors who made this retreat financially possible. We couldn’t have done it without you.
We are in the early planning stages for next year’s retreat, FAYA Retreat 2018. Please keep us in your prayers as our planning committee is in a fluid situation. While our primary focus is maintaining, growing and expanding the communities we have made at FAYA through online bible studies, personal contact, and local church ministries, we want to improve upon our shortcomings and better meet the needs of our attendees by starting the planning early.
If you feel that God is calling you to help our ministry financially, you may make a tax-deductible donation to: https://pushpay.com/p/aksdaem (For “Giving Type” please select “YA Ministry Fund”). You may also write a check to Atlanta Korean SDA Church, clearly indicating that the check is for FAYA. Please send the check to:
Atlanta Korean SDA Church
4801 Old Norcross Rd.
Duluth, GA 30096


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