“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
When I was in high school, I attended a church retreat with some of my friends. It was a very entertaining and enlightening retreat, but to be honest, I don’t remember too much about it. What I do remember is that we had a special present waiting for us after one of the evening devotions…a letter from our parents!
In these “secret” letters, parents and other adults were encouraged to share words of encouragement to their youth. For parents and teenagers, often these words are unfortunately not said too often to each other, so this was a unique opportunity for the parents to tell their children exactly how they feel about their children. I remember looking across the room and seeing all of my friends taking this so seriously. Many cried, and others clearly had a lot on their mind. For me, it was particularly special as at that time my father was undergoing cancer treatments. During this time, I got to know my parents better and I got to know them a little more as people rather than just my parents.
I thought this was such a good idea that I have used it often in my ministry. Certainly this isn’t something that you want to do at every function, but for big things like the Gathering, this is a definite positive addition to your program.
At the 2007 Gathering we had parents write letters, but we had a youth come with us who not only wasn’t a member of our church, but his parents really didn’t support him coming on our trip or the fact that he was hanging out with Christian people. His parents didn’t write letters, so we had our leaders and other adults write him letters. I will never forget Matt getting up in front of our group after everyone had read their letters. He said he was afraid he would have any letters, and he ended up having the most in the group! What a great Christian witness for this young man!
I still have my letters and I look at them from time-to-time. I miss my dad- he passed away soon after that retreat. This is a present that my youth leaders gave me and 14 years later, it is still a huge blessing in my life. I pray that you consider giving a gift like this as well!
Blessings as you continue on the Road to the Gathering!