College has not only changed my daily schedule, but also my daily thoughts. During the first week of college as a freshman, I decided to take part in as many clubs and activities as possible. One club that I stuck with is Chi Alpha. No, XA is not a sorority. XA is an Assemblies of God Christian ministry for colleges all over the U.S. Every fall, XA at Winona hosts a “Fall Retreat.” This year, for Fall Retreat, about 150 (which is most) of us went to Village Creek Bible Camp for a weekend.
I expected the majority of my time to be spent in worship service or alone with the Lord. I purposely signed up for the activities—ziplining and horseback riding—to get the full experience and to leave myself with less downtime. I expected to create a stronger bond with my small group and some friends. While all these things I expected did happen, I spent my time doing so much more.
Our only mandatory gatherings were worship services every morning and evening and Color Wars. Worship services were filled with listening ears, open minds, and roaring music. Chi Alpha has a live band performance with lyrics projected on a screen to encourage verbal praise at every service. Out of the three or four songs played over the weekend, there was only one that was played at every service, and it never got old. During the day, the band practiced and the music was crystal clear from outside of the building. It was common to walk around and hear people singing the songs with their friends or quietly humming the tunes.
As for Color Wars, everyone was assigned a color. I was green, and it was a competition between us. Bragging Rights Enforced: Out of 10 colors, green team won! Our color teams met up twice before the wars to assign each person to a specific competition and make up a cheer. Aside from these required events and activities, I participated in speed-volleyball, dodgeball, P-I-G (a basketball game), and smaller games throughout the nights.
My favorite part about Fall Retreat wasn’t the games or opportunities; it was the people. I went into this weekend knowing just a small group of girls. I never imagined I’d end the weekend with so many new friends. Without phone service, meeting people became easier and more natural as time went by. From the very moment of arriving at VCBC, not only did I feel instantly welcomed, I felt like I was in the right place. I belonged. Every person I interacted with was full of life—and when I think of someone I want to be around, I want them to fill me with life! The activities allowed for friendships to be made and bunking with six other girls each night ensured us a bond that can’t be broken.
Because I took part in a different activity every day, new games with new people every night, and personal time with my Bible and journal, VCBC felt like home. Once I surrounded myself with people who share the same interests as me and people who genuinely care, even if they only knew my name, the fact that I was in the middle of nowhere didn’t faze me—I wasn’t alone.
I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and go to a religious club on your campus or volunteer at your local church. The people you meet will make you question how you lived life without them.
2: Photo taken by Brooke Powell Photography
3: Photo taken by Chi Alpha Media Team
4: Photo taken by Chi Alpha Media Team