By Sarah Kenney, AZSBC communications intern –
Every week, Southern Baptist churches in Arizona have special services on Wednesday or Sunday night for youth, where the gospel is presented to the attendees and the more mature believers are provided with discipleship. In these services, trust and friendship are cultivated between the youth leaders and their students. These relationships are the foundation from which WinterFresh builds its program.
WinterFresh is a powerful weekend retreat for youth in seventh grade through twelfth grade that provides an atmosphere for spiritual transformation. It relies on youth leaders across the state bringing their students to Camp Pinerock, a longtime partner with WinterFresh. Once there, the camp provides students with times of worship and study; however, it is the youth leaders’ responsibility to further the discussions with their youth. WinterFresh set aside special church group times for these important conversations.
Another powerful contribution the youth leaders made to WinterFresh was through a question and answer panel. The teens were allowed to anonymously send in questions and concerns they had about their faith. From there, a select panel of youth leaders provided clarity on tricky issues like suicide, premarital sex, and drugs. The remaining questions that were not addressed at WinterFresh were sent back to the youth groups to be discussed.
At WinterFresh, 15 students received Christ for the first time and more than 50 dedicated their lives to vocational Christian ministry. This response has to be attributed to the patience and persistence of the youth ministers whom WinterFresh encouraged and assisted.
WinterFresh would not be a reality without support from the Cooperative Program. The giving of churches through the Cooperative Program equips youth ministers with opportunities to further disciple and build up the next generation of leaders in churches across Arizona.