When God Met Us In The Sacred Forest
Last weekend our leaders from Salinas Grande, El Limonal and El Porvenir traveled to "El Bosque Sagrado,” aka The Sacred Forest, on a retreat to discover God in a new way. We stayed in a stone house nestled in the center of the forest with no electricity and access only to freezing cold water.
Each day we woke up early (the brave ones showered), and shared intentional time delving into each other's life stories. We spoke of where each of us had come from and how we became involved with SuNica. Our leaders listened to messages and did devotions with our staff. They played games and laughed with leaders from other communities.
A staple of any visit to the sacred forest is that you have to get out in the woods by yourself. There is something about it that tests you and gives you time to let God speak.
During a time of solitude in the forest, Alejandro, one of our leaders from Salinas Grande, felt God's love for the first time. Though he was baptized five years ago, he said he'd never truly felt God's presence until a walk through the forest brought him to his knees. He had been wrestling with feelings of anger towards God for what he perceived to be God's distance. Why did he only hear silence when he cried out to God. As he made his way through the forest muttering his feeble prayers, he was suddenly compelled to stop, overcome with God's love. Though he'd been trying to follow Jesus for some time, he'd never felt God's love for him in any tangible way. In this moment, all that changed, and he was certain the Lord was with him and eagerly listening to his prayers. He fell to the forest floor amidst the trees and bugs and birds. And he wept like a baby.
What Alejandro experienced was our hope for this retreat. We wanted to provide our leaders with a chance to step outside of their normal routines and comfort zones, to dig deeper and reflect on their relationship with God. We wanted them to relax, have fun, pray and share their experiences with other leaders.
The love and connection to God and each other that weekend were beyond what we had hoped for. In the quietness of the forest, we rediscovered the peace and creativity of God. In the scavenger hunt and games, we felt God's joy. And during mealtimes and devotionals, we responded to God's call to be obedient, servant-like and vulnerable.
There is a tangible momentum that God created for our leaders on this retreat. We’re excited to see the affect that this experience will have as volunteer staff return to their discipleship kids back in the lowlands.
Praise Jesus. He showed up in a BIG way!