by Chris DeVille
After months of prayer, fundraisers, and generous donations, the Xenos high school ministry embarked on its annual ministry-wide retreat, Epic, from June 29 to July 5. Hundreds of students from backgrounds ranging from suburban to inner city to Nepali made the trip to SpringHill Camps in Seymour, Indiana for a week of teachings and activities. It was a massive undertaking for dozens of leaders and student workers, but God blessed his people's efforts big-time. Among the key stats from the trip: 681 students attended, 13 student salvations were reported, and two parents received Christ on the drive home!
Epic began in 2011 to give the high school ministry a life-changing getaway experience. At a time when American teens are leaving the church in massive numbers, the Xenos high school and college ministries continue to grow like crazy. Epic has played a part in that. Spending day after day in the company of fellow believers and sitting under seasoned Bible teaching night after night helps students get a vision for continuing to radically pursue God in the years after high school. According to reports from this year's camp, lives were changed once again.
"One really cool thing for our group was getting up informally each morning and gathering around a fire pit to praise and thank God," said Josh Benadum, a longtime high school home church leader and seminary student. "Kids who had never prayed out loud before became excited there about prayer."
This year's teaching series focused on the parables of Jesus. High school CT leaders Bret McCallum and Nick Hetrick each taught, as did Xenos elders including Gary DeLashmutt, Dennis McCallum and Conrad Hilario. Besides morning small-group devotionals and discussions and evening teachings, students played soccer and volleyball, swam, canoed, rode ziplines, hiked, and sat around late-night campfires.
"Epic 2014 was the best to date. It could not have gone much better!" said Brian Adams, a longtime high school home church leader and an administrative employee with Xenos student ministries. "We had the most students we've ever had, amazing teachings from some of the top teachers in our church, exciting devotionals in the morning and incredible fellowship and fun. God is clearly behind the work being done in the high school ministry and I am personally excited to see how He continues to grow this ministry!"