Christchurch 2013


God's Tool BoxHaving previously attended 4 Joshua retreats in the North Island, I was interested to see how the southern experience would be. There was no need to worry though – same God, same management, same great attitude, same result – excellent weekend!

The Wainui camp has great facilities and is setting quiet wooded rural setting about an hour out of Christchurch (near Akaroa). It is a bit of an effort to get there, but well worth the journey. We had the whole camp to ourselves so there was plenty of space to spread out and relax. The camp staff were enthusiastic and friendly and the standard of food excellent. Some of our “big smoke” visitors commented about the “deafening silence” of the place. There was great tranquillity and even some native bird spotting done during the breaks.

Approximately 50 men attended, including the National Leadership Team, Ian Grant, Bishop Denis Browne  (Hamilton)  and  Christchurch  Joshua’s chaplain, Father Jack O’Connor. We had representatives from Nelson to Timaru, and a full spectrum of ages. There were even a small number of blokes from the North Island who made the journey south to attend the weekend.

The retreat kicked off on Friday evening with praise and worship led by Gerard Trip from  Christchurch. He was assisted by David Hall (NLT) on bass, Willie Schryvers (Nelson) on mandolin and Peter Wright (also Nelson) on percussion. This was followed by a presentation from Bishop Denis, based on the prodigal son and loving father. We then processed into the adjoining chapel. In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the Bishop led us through a time of reflection on our previous failings,  the  enormous  love  the Father has for us, and how He is waiting for us to turn back to him. The rest of the evening was spent in fellowship over supper. Adoration of  the  Blessed  Sacrament  was available 24/7 during the weekend, men keeping watch with the Lord at all times.

In keeping with the theme of the retreat, “God’s Toolbox for Men” the altar  in  the  adoration  chapel consisted of an old wooden toolbox containing some basic hand tools that Jesus would have been familiar with using during his time on earth as a carpenter. All in all a great start to the weekend.

Saturday kicked off with Mass con-celebrated by Bishop Denis and Father Jack. This was followed by a good breakfast and fellowship. We then gathered for some self-reflection, followed by reconciliation. This was a quiet time for all and some men spent their post reconciliation period in front of Jesus in the chapel. It was a privilege to have the exposition alongside the main meeting room throughout the weekend.

Throughout the rest of the day we were inspired and challenged by Ian’s series of talks – Man of Steel, Love and Duty, Brotherhood and An Ideal Man. There were many thought provoking ideas put in front of us and it was for each man to ponder which areas applied to himself and to make a decision to do something about it. For me personally, I got a strong reminder that I need to keep loving and nurturing my adult children. Even though they are all “growed up”, they still see me as Dad and themselves as children. No matter what age they may be, I will always be their dad and trusted friend. So I made a decision to actively continue fathering them going forward.

Ian also challenged us to continue the Christian “legacy” our parents nurtured in us, in our children’s families and subsequent generations. It is up to us to do something about – if we don’t actively promote our faith, who will? Mid-afternoon we were given some free time. Quite a few men chose to get outside into the brilliant sunshine and walk down the hill to the Akaroa harbour. What a beautiful day and surroundings! One could really feel that God was blessing us over the weekend. After dinner we met as a group and Mike and the NLT led us through some Bible reflections with the aim of us deciding and committing ourselves to do something different when we  returned from the retreat.

After personal reflection most men took the opportunity of receiving prayer from one of the p r a ye r ministry teams for whatever their particular needs were, or to pray about the commitment they had chosen to make. For me this was a peaceful and yet powerful time of commitment to our Lord. This was followed by fellowship and adoration in the chapel. On Sunday after morning prayer and breakfast, we gathered again and broke into groups to share important ideas that came up from Ian’s talks. It was very interesting to see how the men had been impacted in many different ways, in response to their own particular circumstances or needs at that time. It was also helpful to be reminded of things already forgotten from the day before! There was also a time for personal testimony. As always, this is a very encouraging time on the retreat. The general consensus was that it had been a special time away from the busy-ness of the world and a great time of infilling and fellowship with like- minded men.

The retreat culminated in the final Mass and with a certain degree of sadness, we cleaned our rooms and headed home.

Chris Jordan