During the last weekend in October, despite all of our concerns about overwhelming workload, looming tests, and declined party invitations, we loaded up our car and headed off to our church (Zürich International Baptist Church, Switzerland) weekend away in Hasliberg.
Organized by a group of dedicated volunteers, every part of the weekend had been meticulously planned. Not an easy task with such a range of ages from babies and toddlers, teenagers, young parents, older parents, and up to the more mature members of the church. We enjoyed “round the world” meals — Hungarian goulash, Canadian French-toast with bacon and maple syrup, Indian curry, Italian pasta, and homemade burgers. We did craft activities, walked in the beautiful surroundings, sang, competed as groups in the “round the circuit” activities, had fun and games, and roasted chestnuts around the fire in the evenings.
Best of all, Jim McVicar, our interim pastor treated us to five talks at intervals throughout the weekend, giving us the opportunity to really ponder how the events involving the prophet Jonah have relevance to us today. Jonah is not just a wonderful children’s story but is full of very topical and thought-provoking messages for the rest of us. I was fascinated to learn that Nineveh was just across the Tigris River from modern day Mosul. For those of us inclined to sneer at Jonah for running in the opposite direction when told by God to go with His message to the people there, we can ask ourselves what we would have done if asked to go into the middle of ISIS to do the same! The overriding message that I have taken away with me is to ask myself each day, “Am I walking with God or away from Him? Is He in all of my thoughts and actions, or am I excluding Him from them?”
I began this recount by saying how much of a struggle it was for us as a family to ‘give up’ a weekend to go away on a church camp. The very first words that Jim spoke when he stood up were “God knows your expectations of this weekend away, but are you open to God challenging your priorities?” It would have been the easier choice to prioritize the pressing things at home, but it would not have been the correct choice, and God knew that, of course. We spent time with people from our church family. We had fun with them, got to know them better, ate alongside them, sang with them, and together studied God’s Word. And in a family, you are comfortable enough with one another to support, encourage, give comfort, bring joy, and share prayer requests. All in all, time very well spent. Book us in for next year!