Camp Kawkawa is located on the shores of Lake Kawkawa in Hope, B.C. Surrounded by nothing but blue waters and sky, it is a beautiful location for a weekend getaway. The lake is a perfect place for kayaking and canoeing, the human foosball field is an extreme entertainment factor, and the open fields are great for soccer. Amidst all this activity, there is still room to retreat to a calm and private spot, in the middle of trees and mountains.
This was the place that was appropriately chosen for the fall Men’s Retreat. It is a facility that was previously known and loved by Northside, having been the hostess ground for the Young Adults retreat this past April. Twenty-eight men from our church packed their bags and headed to Camp Kawkawa for a time of intentional ministry this past weekend, leaving Friday, September 22, and arriving back home Sunday, September 24.
Led by Pastor Joel Conti, the men of Northside clearly came back with fresh vision and rest from the Lord. The praise reports have been ringing from the walls and in the ears of the church, giving glory to the work God did this past weekend.
Keaton Roberts was the one who brought his guitar and led the men into a time of worship multiple times throughout the week. He says that the amount of work leading worship, as well as running tech, was more than he expected but the work was well worth it.
“I was shocked the first night,” he says. “I didn’t expect that kind of response from the men. At times, they were singing louder than I was playing and singing. The worship that came out of that was incredible. There was full engagement, dancing, just being free in the Spirit. It was really cool to see.”
That atmosphere of worship continued all through the weekend, as the men pressed into the presence of God. “There was freedom in worship that was present the entire time we were there. The passion that came out of those moments was just amazing. There was a specific ministry time when Pastor Joel was praying and the room just erupted in a worshipful battle cry.”
The last morning stands out as a highlight as well. Pastor Joel welcomed anyone who had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit and gifted with tongues (a spiritual language that is birthed out of receiving the Holy Spirit) to be prayed over. After men were prayed over, many received that gifting, and the small room in which they worshipped in was filled with sounds of worship in their spiritual language.
The conversation about this weekend really lies at the heart of openness. “We were so open, and expectant,” says Keaton. That heart, to come open and ready, really showed through as God worked in the openness.
It helped, too, that the time for conversation and sharing was not done in the large group but in small circles. “There was breakthrough in those circles,” says Keaton, “I guess because we were able to share in a group size that wasn’t overwhelming.” It was a time to really talk through some of the things God was placing on their hearts, as well as a way to receive prayer for anything that they might be struggling with.
Retreating to a quiet spot for a moment longer than a heartbeat is a practice Jesus modeled many times during his time on Earth. In our world of increasing hustle and responsibility, it’s easy to get caught up and not make time to still our souls before God. It is a common thread in women’s ministry to discuss the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but it is not an illness that has favour on men – anyone can fall prey to not making time to just receive in the presence of God.
This weekend was a practice of the retreat that Jesus did as he was here. There’s something about the mountains and the lakes that call for soul-searching, to reach into our hearts and examine the pieces that God has placed there, and to do away with them or keep them and offer them back up to the King.
Maybe it’s the way the wind changes by the water, or the fact that for the first time in what can feel like a long time, the air that is breathed is in complete surrender to Jesus.