It was 5 years ago my friend and college classmate, Nate Hippauf, asked me a life changing question. The question went along the lines of, “Hey man would you be interested in coming to a Fall Retreat with my college group?” He asked me this question during one of our Thursday evening college courses and the Retreat was the next day. At first I was hesitant, but then he mentioned that I could attend for free and I could ride up with him. Plus I was looking to get connected with a church that had people my age and I thought Nate was a pretty cool guy. So the next day I agreed to meet Nate at the church to help transport sound gear from the church to the Retreat. Then off we went! Little did I know that God would use such a simple question and an all expenses paid trip to Fall Retreat to change my life.
The theme for the Retreat that year was “The City of God.” During the retreat we dove into God’s word to learn about heaven and what God’s people have to look forward to for all eternity. The preacher was excellent and I had never heard scripture taught with such clarity and depth. I was excited for each sermon and was soaking in everything that was being taught. The verse that stuck out the most to me was Revelation 21:3-7. This verse reveals to us a glimpse of heaven and what God’s people have to look forward to. This verse filled my heart with excitement and joy because of the promise that the present suffering and pain in this world would one day cease forever. Not only that, but that we will be joined with God for all eternity worshiping Him, who is our perfect and loving Father.
Beyond the teaching I was blown away by the fellowship and the community I witnessed with this group of believers. I felt welcomed since the first day of Retreat and several people befriended me immediately. I could tell that they loved God and each other deeply. It was apparent that they took their faith seriously and their relationship with Christ was worth dying for. They had an appetite for God’s word and strived to be more like Him with every word and prayer. I had never witnessed such a faithful, kind, caring and loving group of college students. It was obvious through their words and actions that they had an undeniable joy and love for Christ. Plus, they knew how to laugh and have ridiculous amounts of fun together.
After Fall Retreat I started attending Faith Bible Church on a weekly basis. At first I attended college group only on Sundays. But after a few weeks of attending college group I realized how much of an emphasis Jerod and the other college leaders placed on attending the main church service. With all my flesh I did not want to wake up at 7 in the morning to attend church for 3 hours every Sunday. However the more consistently I attended church, the more I grew in my faith, understood the importance of regular church attendance, and grew to love the body of Faith Bible Church.
God used leaders such as Mike Dionne to direct my focus towards Christ and help me grow in my walk. Mike intentionally invested in my life and taught me what commitment to Christ and the church looks like. I would have never met Mike and grown so much in my faith without God working through Fall Retreat.
Without a doubt God sovereignly used Fall Retreat 5 years ago to change the course of my life. Over the next 5 years He would use the teaching and example of the pastors, elders, leaders and members of FBC to help me grow in my walk with Christ. He would lead me to be involved in small groups and various ministry teams within college group. He would then, in turn, lead me to become a small group and ministry team leader. He would give me the opportunity to share the gospel with several international students. He would introduce to me to people at FBC that would become my greatest role models and best friends. He would even lead me to the woman that would become my wife. But most important of all, He would lead me to an increasing love and dependence on Him for everything.
All of these things God has done, not me. God used my buddy Nate to ask one simple question that would literally change my life. “Hey man would you be interested in coming to a Fall Retreat with my college group?” May all the praise and glory be to God.
Cory’s story was made possible because of the scholarship he received in coming to that first Fall Retreat. This is why we have a scholarship fund, which enables our ministries, including College, Youth, Outreach and more, to send people to camps or events they otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. You can give to this fund and make more stories like Cory’s possible by going to fbchurch.org/give and selecting “4. Ministry Scholarships.”