After months of preparation, Impact Retreat 2016 was here! And putting it simply: retreat was an absolute blast!
Over the course of our three sessions, Impact welcomed 1500 freshmen to retreat this past August. That’s 1500 freshmen who heard the Gospel proclaimed. 1500 freshmen who felt the truth of not going into this upcoming semester alone. The Class of 2020 have an Almighty and Sovereign God who loves them deeply and will faithfully be by their side. More than anything, retreat gave these 1500 a glimpse of the body of Christ at Texas A&M and Blinn. This glimpse cultivates a hope that pursuing Christ and deepening their relationship with God in college does not have to be limited to a mere thought. It can actually become reality as they venture into this new chapter of their lives.
Lots of time and effort go into planning for retreat. Training our staff, reserving buses, planning the programming, working through the ins and outs of worship and speaker sessions; these are all things that require great attention and time. But in the end it is about something so much bigger than what songs we sing or what competitions we play. It is about freshmen knowing that God wants so much for them, abundantly more than they can even imagine. Sam Williams, Omega Levi freshman and member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2020 sums it up like this: “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to take a first step into my freshman year than Impact. The community you build and the fellowship I experienced was quite extraordinary and the presence of the Lord is surely there. I would not have been properly prepared for freshman year if I had not attended.”
Seventeen years since the start of Impact, God remains active and on the move. We had a front row seat to see Him provide yet again this past August at retreat. The four days freshmen have are only a taste of what Impact is all about. Those four days lay a solid foundation for the semester to come. For some we saw steps taken to seek out who Christ really is and what He has done for them. For others we saw huge leaps of faith taken by freshmen who experienced God in a way like never before, gaining an understanding of the freedom found in fearlessly trusting in Christ. We rejoice in the steps and the leaps, because we confidently know God is at work and His timing is perfect!
Immediately following Impact Retreat we emailed the freshmen and asked them to answer a few questions for us.
99% of freshmen absolutely recommend attending Impact to future freshmen.
99% of freshmen either went to church with their Impact counselor or were invited by their counselor to a local church.
78% of freshmen said they were “very eager to proactively find Christian community” at the start of the semester (an additional 21% said they were “looking forward to finding Christian community”).
A LASTING IMPACT
We could look at statistics all day and be encouraged by what they tell us, but in the end these are REAL people with REAL stories and REAL experiences. God used Impact to dramatically change the lives of these freshmen and we are eager to share a few of their thoughts below.
Morgan Moss, Alpha Levi freshman, describes the difference Impact made in her first semester at Texas A&M: “As an incoming freshman, I was scared about finding a solid community of believers who were going to help me grow. After Impact, that was the least of my worries. Through impact, I met friends who were feeling the same way I was. I met counselors who poured into me way after the four days of camp were over. My freshman year would have looked completely different if I hadn’t gone to Impact.”
Will Whitmer, Alpha Benji freshman, gives insight into what Impact meant to him: “…Going into Impact, I didn't believe I would be able to make any solid friends in just four days. Little did I know that seven weeks into my freshman semester my Impact camp would still be having lunch together… the beauty of Impact is that the leaders truly want to be your friend and more importantly they care about your spiritual wellness and connection to the local church.”
Our ultimate hope is to see freshmen get plugged into the local church. Therefore, it is refreshing to hear freshmen like Jaci Wirth, Alpha Zebulun freshman, declare: “Impact was an incredible experience. Since starting college, I have experienced so much growth in my walk with Jesus. I am plugged into a local church that I found out about through the Impact ministry fair and have found the community that I was so desperately craving.”
It is incredibly encouraging to hear the tangible difference God is allowing Impact to make in the lives of freshmen. We are reminded that the focus and purpose of Impact Retreat stretches far beyond the four days at Latham Springs. God has big plans for the Class of 2020, perhaps world-changing plans, and we remain in awe of the fact that God has allowed us the joy of playing a small part in all of this.
We share these stories and statistics with you to first say thank You to our ever-faithful God and recognize it is He who made all of it possible. We also want to acknowledge all of you who support Impact throughout the year. You are a part of what God did and is doing in the lives of the Class of 2020 and that is something to celebrate!