By Pamela Brogdon
But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well. Matthew 6:33 (CEV)
Most of us often try to handle difficult situations ourselves, without asking God for His help. Just as often, the situations do not turn out as we planned. Therefore, as Matthew 6:33 tells us, we need to ask for God’s help before trying to fix the problems ourselves. That was the key message of Sugar Creek’s 2010 singles retreat, held at the Flying L Ranch
in Bandera, Texas. Singles pastor Jay Troutman and his wife Becky, an experienced event planner, have made the retreat an annual event since coming to Sugar Creek five years ago.
For many of the participants, the retreat provided a welcome respite from the everyday challenges of being a single Christian adult in today’s world. “I’ve only been single for a year now, there is the loneliness thing” explains Robert Usry, “so it was nice to get away and relax.” Ricardo Saravia sees his life as described in the poem, Footprints in the Sand. “I cannot do this by myself. I tried everything on my own and it failed. Now that I reflect back, He was carrying me.”
Renowned Christian speaker and author Dave Edwards delivered the messages. He felt the call to ministry as a teenager, and today he travels to speak to those struggling with the issues facing single Christians. He has also started Bible studies in 12 cities across the country. As a single Christian himself, he feels God has used this as a way to relate to other Christian singles. “I am my own audience, my own demographic,” he says, “I think we lose sight of the fact that John the Baptist, Paul and Jesus were all single.”
Dave’s messages centered on keeping a thankful spirit, repenting positively by taking steps not to repeat our mistakes, avoiding the life of a “clueless Christian” who doesn’t get the message or awesomeness of God, rejecting pressure to conform to the world and being open to receive our purpose from God. He encourages everyone to respond to God’s grace by living a life worthy of Jesus’ calling, “Whatever your life has been up to now, all that matters is what you do next,” he says, “I want singles to live boldly and to not be afraid. You can’t let being single limit you in any way.”
In addition to speaking, Dave is also the author of 16 books, including The God of Yes and Has God Given Up on Me? However, reading and writing have not always been easy for him. He says of his writing, “Having struggled reading most of my life and writing because of dyslexia, to have written 16 books is a miracle. God made a way for that to happen.”
In addition to attending the four classroom sessions, the singles had free time to fellowship, engage in recreational activities or just be alone with God. “It’s a time of getting away from the world and to focus specifically on Christ.” Jay Troutman says, “Great friendships are formed and great life changes happened.”
The recreational activities included horseback riding and a hoedown, complete with lessons from a line-dancing instructor. These activities also taught some valuable lessons. Mary Webber describes one of these lessons she learned on the horseback ride, “When we try to take the rope and make it seem like we’re in control, nothing works. He wasn’t cooperating because we were trying to maneuver him, instead of him maneuvering us. It’s the same thing with God. Once we let go of that rope and He takes over, everything falls into place.”
What did everyone hope to take away from this retreat? Talisha Janice says that she wants to “put the past behind me, let it go and be a better person from it.” Ricardo Saravia agrees, “Whatever we have accomplished today, I hope people will not think of themselves, but how the Lord has worked in each of our lives.” Jay Troutman wants everyone to remember the message of Matthew 6:33: “When we seek that righteousness, we become the kind of people He wants us to be.”
In addition to the annual retreats, the Troutmans coordinate a number of other events during the year to ensure that Sugar Creek is a single-friendly church. These include an annual hoedown, Christmas lunch and monthly fellowships for each specific age group. Dave Edwards emphasizes the importance of having a servant’s heart: “Every single adult needs to know that the church is looking for people to serve and be involved. This retreat took place because the pastor and staff believe in singles.”
Single Adult Bible Fellowship takes place at 9:30 and 11:15 on Sunday mornings. First-time guests are always welcomed. Many singles also meet for lunch on Sunday after each Bible study at a designated local restaurant.