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Encounter retreat explores Christian response to immigration

Ten high school students participated in the 2021 Encounter retreat sponsored by Faith Front, Tabor College's leadership program for high school students. Photo: FaithFront

Mennonite Brethren high school students interested in growing in calling, culture and leadership through an experiential retreat may apply for Encounter, a free, pre-ASCENT event June 13-16, in Hillsboro and Garden City, Kansas. All participants will receive a $100 discount to ASCENT.

Hosted by FaithFront, Tabor College’s leadership program for high school youth, Encounter is an advanced-level program designed to help students experientially encounter issues that call for Christian action. Read more about who FaithFront is designed to serve.

While Encounter is not new, organizers decided to experiment with the timing in 2023, shortening the program to four days instead of six or seven, linking it to ASCENT and offering a discount for those participating in both Encounter and ASCENT. Encounter previously took place the fourth week of June.

Encounter will begin Tuesday, June 13, at Tabor College in Hillsboro Kansas, and includes one night in the Tabor residence halls and two nights in a Garden City, Kansas, hotel.

Participants will learn about calling, culture and leadership as it pertains to a Christian response to immigration and refugees and hear stories, eat ethnic food and participate in a food distribution project. Students will complete the StrengthFinder inventory to prepare for Encounter.

Leah Remboldt, program administrator, and Wendell Loewen, FaithFront director, will facilitate the retreat with the help of support and resource staff.

“It’s such a valuable experience,” Remboldt says. “We have a great experienced staff team who are ready to walk alongside you through Encounter. We also have a phenomenal lineup of speakers/teachers that will help you learn and grow in the areas of calling, culture and leadership. Please join us.”

Scholars, missionaries, pastors, ministry leaders and experts will provide input for the retreat. Trent Voth will teach on strengths, while Loewen, who also serves as professor of youth, church and culture at Tabor, will share about flourishing as a leader. Jody May, director of program and service at Exodus World Service, Chicago, Illinois; Madelyn Martinez-Blackwell, pastor of Community Church, Garden City; and Amy Kuhn and Sage Hemmert, Garden City FBI, will speak to immigration and refugee issues and ministry.

Food, travel, lodging and program costs are covered.

After Encounter, participants attending ASCENT, held June 16-20 in Glorieta, New Mexico, will travel to camp on the charter bus, while those not attending ASCENT will be given a ride back to Hillsboro. Those attending ASCENT will need to secure a return ride with their youth group.

Interested applicants may apply at www.faithfront.org by June 5, 2023. Applicants must secure a recommendation from their youth pastor to participate. Youth pastors may reference this document when discerning who to nominate.

FaithFront began in 2016 as a continuation of the former Ministry Quest, started at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary) in 2000 and adopted by Tabor College in 2011.

According to FaithFront’s website, “Our desire is to IGNITE students’ passions as they discover how God has called and gifted them. We want to help them ENGAGE their world as they develop tools to effectively and faithfully interact with the culture around them. And we hope to empower teens to INSPIRE their generation as they practice effective leadership.”

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