On September 13-14, 2008 around 30 men from First Presbyterian Church in Morganton, NC ventured out to Camp Grier (Old Fort, NC) with their pastors and Pat MacPherson from Men Abiding in Christ Ministries. Many did not know what to expect, and were not too sure why they had given up most of a weekend. However, those uncertainties quickly vanished as Pat led our men in a weekend retreat we will not soon forget.
I could tell you the details and specifics about the weekend, but I think the men that attended the retreat said it the best. We tried out a new e-survey system when we returned, and we asked the men, “What will you take away from this retreat experience?” Here are just a few of their answers:
“I wrestled with some aspects of my retired life. There are some aspects that I need to reconsider such as time for study and prayer with my wife. We used to do this, but it dropped along the way.”
“For me, this was a ‘die to self’ experience which has not evaporated since returning to the real world!”
“It reinforced the truth that walking God’s path requires God’s discipline which comes with tons of grace.”
“A better understanding of my need for quiet time with God; confirmation that I’m not in this alone, my church family has similar problems and we can share them with each other and God, to help handle our situations.”
“An increase in my overall faith and the power of forgiveness.”
For me, as the pastor of these men, I came away with an excitement about a sustainable men’s ministry at First Presbyterian, and a joy that we were connecting with Christ and with each other on a deeper level.
This retreat has now ignited the men of First Presbyterian, a Tuesday morning breakfast Bible study (in the back room of a local restaurant) has developed, and there are talks of a regional mission project/trip on the horizon. However, it is not the programs that excite me as their pastor. It is the deeper relationship with their Lord and Savior that has become evident in their lives since the retreat. Men are now meeting one on one to pray with, and for each other.
What many do not know is that Pat, via long-distance conference calls, led our retreat planning team through a time of prayer and discernment as we planned this retreat. Using Pat’s retreat experience as a resource, the team carefully and prayerfully planned every aspect of the retreat. Upon Pat’s suggestion, the retreat planning team began to pray for the men that would attend, and once they signed up, they prayed for them by name. I pray that God will continue to use Pat, and MAC Ministries, to bring men into a deeper relationship with Him—the fruit of this ministry has certainly flourished here in Morganton, NC.
Rev. Adam C. Bowling
First Presbyterian Church