by Angelika E. Guillermo, Grade 10 – Moses
In Great Christian Academy, the school does not only focus on the development of the children’s young mind for their future in the physical world, but also in their spiritual life. The activity ensures not only academic success, but also the spiritual growth of the learners. This is why every year, GCA conducts an annual retreat for the high school students to mold and hasten further their relationship with God.
Last January 18 and 19, 2018, the annual retreat for high school students was held in CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center. More than 80 students got to join the event. The theme for this year’s retreat was entitled “Transformed by Love” with the theme verse found in Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But because of His great love for us, God, who is reach in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
In the early morning at the 18th day of January, the students along with the other important people needed in the event, left the school for a 2-hour travelling time to Tagaytay City. As they arrived at their destination, the high school students were greatly enthralled by the beauty of the place. Once inside the main hall, the high school students were given an ID each, along with a booklet that contains all the activities to be done in a specific time. After giving a short orientation about the place and its dos and don’ts, the program was started with a praise and worship session led by the JTF Music Team.
The first topic was called “Love, Transforming Love of God” which was discussed by Mrs. Jeany J. Volpane. Here, it was told what love really is. It was taught that love is everywhere. It could be seen in not only other people, but also in animals and nature. It was also discussed that God, Himself, is love, just as it was said in the Bible in 1 John 4:8 – “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Love isn’t just a noun, but an action word.
Followed by “Darkness and Sin” discussed by Pastor Darwin Reyes, which talked about the sins people unconsciously commit. He said that a sin committed by our ancestors like their adoptions of deceptive practices could be passed down to generations. Here, GCAians were taught that to repent something does not mean to be merely sorry or remorseful but to turn away from it, to change.
“Loving the Unlovable” was led by Mrs. Princess R. Gutierrez, which was mainly about not holding grudges against people who are very much unlovable. This topic teaches students about the verse found in Luke 6: 27 – “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Perhaps this is one of the hardest teaching God has ever told us, for there are so many people out there who could be compared to a dangerous being. But here, it doesn’t matter how they act or who they are – for you must love them just as much as you love yourself and those who are lovable.
“The Blood of Jesus; God’s Transforming Love” was the final topic for their first day with a surprise guest speaker, Pastor Rocky Jamisola. The main verse was found in Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” In this night, Pastor Rocky prayed for the high school students – lights closed and with God inside the same room with them. During the prayer, a number of students have opened themselves up for the Lord and let their emotions spill right before Him.
Lastly, “Love Languages” served as the last topic for this school year’s retreat. It was discussed by Ate Beverly C. Guanga, one of JTF’s youth leader. Each student was given a paper containing forty easy questions. Here, the love language of each person were evaluated. There are five love languages written by this author named Gary Chapman. First is called Words of Affirmation. It is said that someone feels more loved whenever they are positively encouraged by someone. These words build the person up, yet at the same time, they are very much sensitive to words that may break their heart. Next is called Quality Time. A person feels more loved when someone gives them undivided attention. They feel more important to their partner when they spend time with them – even when doing nothing at all but talk! Receiving Gifts is all about a person feeling more loved by their partner when they receive simple gifts from their loved one. It doesn’t necessarily mean that someone would spend so much money for someone. It could be just a simple plastic rose sold by vendors by the sidewalk. Fourth, Acts of Service tackles about helping someone by means of actions. Here, the quote “Actions speak louder than words” gets in. Someone seeks to please someone by serving him/her, to express your love by doing things for him/her. Lastly, Physical Touch talks about the physical intimacy between two people. It could be a simple hug, a rub on the back when your friend is feeling down, or a reassuring squeeze to someone’s hand.
Aside from these topics that were taught, the students also engaged in various activities and games like Jump In; Jump Out, Group Q&A, Group Work, Missing Chair, Relay Games, and Banana Relay. But, from the interviews made by the ACE Students on high school students who have gotten a chance to join the trip, it was said that the most memorable time they had was during the bonfire. During the bonfire, the Grade 10 students were given a chance to leave a message for their school, friends, and school mates, for they were soon to leave the portals of their Alma Mater.
The retreat was truly a successful event which had made so many students strengthen their relationship with God. This is the aim of Great Christian Academy to these children’s young minds. It is the school’s goal to not only make these students number one in the world, but also in God’s kingdom.