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The annual family retreat for families from North Island was held on 4-5 Feb 2017 at Hamilton. The resource was none other than Toms Michael, a man of God who lives every word that he preaches and is a role model for so many in the JY movement. It was 2 days of teaching based on Scripture, and practical aspects of living and bearing lasting fruits in our family life.
About 10 families attended the retreat, while their children (numbering about 15!) were being taken care of by volunteers. It was a wonderful opportunity to come together as families and listen to what the Lord wants from each one of us as we live out our struggles and victories as families.
Toms Michael started the retreat by having us understand what love really meant. There were many different answers that were given by the participants, and finally it all boiled down to the explanation that ‘love is effectively willing the good of the other’. A simple definition at first sight, but something that’s very deep and requires a real sacrifice on the part of the other towards one’s spouse. We are all called to be rooted and grounded in love just as God loves each one of us. There were sessions on how to deepen our experience of God, how we must make the word of God a powerful weapon in our married lives, how Christian marriage is to be modeled on the Holy Trinity, and how we can make Christ as the head of every household. There was a time for confession and for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The second day was a revelation for many of us specially on the role of the husband in the family and how his closeness to God and performing the roles of Lover, King, Priest, and Prophet is so critical to a strong Christ-centred family. The role of the wife was also presented and the fact that the role of the wife is akin to that of the Holy Spirit was something that really touched all the wife’s who were present.
Later in the day there were sessions on the importance of intimacy and communication in married life. The road to intimacy is only through communication. There was a very good session on parenting and parents were given good advice with practical tips on how they can discipline children while being good examples for their children. God is the perfect parent and each of us as parents must learn to be like our Father in heaven. The session ended with a beautiful question: Jesus the Son said ‘whoever has seen Me has seen the Father’. Do our children see God in our actions?
At the end of the retreat the participants gathered together to plan on the way ahead and to discuss how we can take forward the learnings. All the families decided to be more committed to the family prayer groups and come together atleast once a month for a time of prayer and fellowship. It was a beautiful time for everyone and we thanked God for the opportunity to be able to attend this retreat and grow stronger as a family.