King's Business - 1967-03

DEVOTION: This is the turning of the mind and the soul for a definite experience through which the Christian can be reinvigorated and more purposefully directed. This is accomplished in a two-pronged fashion by means of corporate worship and periods of instruc­ tion. Retreat is the time for worship and it is the setting for the day’s activities. The worship service is an ab­ breviated form of the usual public worship which allows for the hearing of God’s Word and the response of His people. Bible study, films and discussion occupy a cen­ tral place in the instructional plan of the retreat. Bible study is always basic, appropriate and adapted to the special needs of the soldier. It is not used to gain more information about the Bible or to revere it, but is used to lead the retreatant into a deeper relation­ ship with God, closer fellowship with other Christians and a surer knowledge about the insufficiency of self and the sufficiency of Christ. Selected films with a mes­ sage (i.e. Moody Institute of Science) provide a change of pace in the day’s schedule and they are useful to drive home TRUTH. Discussion must be the elaboration of some pertinent truth in which shared witness is desired. The issues that most often disturb today’s soldier are usually those on which no clear-cut definitive answers are readily avail­ able. Men come with hearts that are heavy with ques- tians to seek help. The Retreatmaster can offer much assistance by his Biblically-oriented answers and sug­ gestions. DETACHMENT: The detachment afforded by a soli­ tary retreat is a unique experience for those who live in barracks. It allows the retreatant to spend an unhurried day in quiet concentration separated from the usual activities of military life. It involves silence. It is not a “ grim silence,” but a release from the necessity of talking. Silence is two­ fold: the physical silence of the body and the inner silence of the mind and emotions. It is a precept for a true retreat. The Psalmist has said, “ Be still and know that I am God . . .” (Psalm 46:10). Corporate silence and the waiting upon the Lord to­ gether can be deeply significant. Silence is observed to provide the opportunity for meditation and prayer. This is a stillness infused with the presence of God. Separation is also involved in detachment. It is a change from the usual habitual behavior patterns of Army life into an unhurried activity. The soul is taken

from its normal preoccupations and placed in an at­ mosphere of minimum distraction in order that it might commune with the Lord. DECISION: A retreat produces growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It finds summation in some type of decision or resolu­ tion. This is the definite intention of a retreat. This decision is carried out immediately and the director trusts that it will continue. Every retreat that is entered into with simplicity, sincerity and trust in the work of the Holy Spirit of God has its results. There is a deep sense of renewal and peace which floods the soul. This will be manifested in greater faithfulness in prayer, Bible study, devo­ tions, involvement in practical spiritual activity and improved relations with others. The retreat must ac­ complish some specific results in the soldier’s life after the retreat is over, or it has not been effective. Such a retreat creates a climate in which the re­ treatant is enabled to consider the things that count in life. It is during the times of solitude that the soldier begins to find things falling into their proper place. Spiritual values are quickened and strengthened. There is an intensified relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the desire, to live a God-honoring testimony before his fellow soldiers. The retreatant will be energized and stimulated for his return to normal duty status. It is difficult to evaluate the effect that a retreat has upon a person since these values do not lend themselves to concrete or statistical evaluation. What a person gets out of a retreat will depend upon what he brings into it of himself. A measure of the effectiveness of such a retreat can be seen in the reactions written by a group of soldiers who attended such a day-long program recently held at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Retreatmaster for the day was the Rev. Larry McGuill of CONTACT FOR CHRIST, Inc. and guest missioner the Rev. Thomas Lawrence of Philadelphia, Pa. One seventeen-year-old soldier wrote of how the day “ shook up my life,” while another said, “ This was the day that pulled out from under me all of the old wrong things that I was building my life on and my hope for the future. But you did not stop there; you gave me a new set of things to build on — truths and beliefs better than before.” Reactions are varied and produce results that often are unexpected as revealed by one who stated, “ I’m sure had it not been for this retreat I would have gone AWOL. I was ready to ‘cash in my chips’ and leave, but now I have committed myself wholly to the Lord Jesus Christ and His cause and I will now work harder.” Some speak of it as, “ The most wonderful thing that can be done for those of us going to Viet Nam. I’ve been a Christian now for two years and I know God sent me in the Army for something, but until now I did not know what it was.” Other Viet Nam replacements speak of the retreat’s being “ the meaningful day in their Army career,” or “ finding assurance that the Lord will go with me.” Perhaps the most rewarding words come from those who found the Lord as their Saviour. One man stated, “ I think I found today what I have been looking for— the Lord Jesus Christ.” At a loss for words, another soldier wrote, “ I came to Jesus. There is nothing more to say.” The making of a retreat is in order to advance. The retreatant does not seek to escape an encounter with the world, but rather he prepares for it by his desire to “ be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” in order that he might “ endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:1, 3).

Chaplain Benton talks with trainees about the re­ treat; L. to R. are Ken Morrell and Steve Moss.


MARCH, 1967

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