What I Learned At The Oaks Retreat
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What I Learned At The Oaks Retreat

“… that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3

What I Learned At The Oaks Retreat
The Oaks Retreat Facebook Page

“To equip freshmen to be rooted in Christ, to branch out in ministry, and to bear fruit on Auburn’s campus through His power and for His glory.”

The Oaks is a retreat at the end of the summer for incoming Auburn and Southern Union Community College freshmen. It is fairly new on Auburn’s campus and since I came to Auburn as a transfer student, I had never been involved in The Oaks. I had a friend encourage me to apply to be a counselor in March of 2015 and wow. It was so worth every second.

We began training and becoming close to our fellow counselor partners and accountability groups in the spring after interviews were over. We were required to attend at least one prayer meeting a week and that was such a blessing! Through those prayer meetings we were able to relate and get to know each other on a deep, spiritual level.

One of the verses that we prayed for the freshmen we were going to meet was Jeremiah 17:7-8. It says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Last year we had about 100 counselors and almost 400 freshmen attend the first and second sessions. That is close to a tenth of Auburn University’s class of 2019.

Our Lord was so incredible and faithful through it all. Our months of planning, praying, raising funds, preparing our leadership, giving us counselors a heart for the freshmen and bringing the freshmen to Talladega, Alabama, so that we could serve and lead them.

I arrived for the second session on Sunday afternoon at Shocco Springs. My counselor partner and I each had four girls that we were assigned to specifically. We had been praying for them for months, but had gotten their names only a few days before the retreat. Obviously, we had already Facebook stalked them, but tried not to make it obvious when we first met them.

Once the freshmen began to arrive, we all got to mingle and prepare them for the two questions they are going to get asked the most during the next months of their life: Where are you from? What is your major?

The Lord answered many prayers of my counselor partner and mine. We prayed that we would have girls who were willing to talk and be open within our family group. Neither my counselor partner or I have ever met a stranger and both have no problem talking and staring down freshmen as they sit in an awkward silence until one of them cracks.

Each of our girls were so sweet, and we had such beneficial, natural conversation. The Lord was gracious to bring us answers and scripture references when we were asked hard questions, and my counselor partner and I could not have been a better match. She went to private school, is in a sorority, and has a boyfriend. I went to public school, have absolutely no time or energy for a sorority and had no boyfriend. We were able to bounce off of each other and answer a wide variety of questions during our group time.

It was so great to get to encourage these freshmen girls to keep their eyes set on Christ because he should be the core of every and any decision they make in college and for the rest of their life. The main point of The Oaks is to enable the freshmen moving to Auburn to get involved in a local church and grow in Him through that. It was so beautiful to see nine different churches in Auburn and twelve campus organizations and ministries come together and serve at the ministry fair.

“… that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

During the three days at Shocco, I was constantly reminded that the gospel is the core of all of us serving and loving on these freshmen. Many of my new friends I would have never met because our paths never cross on campus or at Auburn, but we have one thing in common — our love for Jesus and our desire to spread the Gospel and see a revival among college students at Auburn University.

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become so dear to us.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Registration is now open for the 2016 Oaks Retreat. If you know someone who is an incoming freshmen who would be interested in applying, they can visit theoaksretreat.com for more information.

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