Radiant Youth is once again hosting its annual Arise winter retreat. This year, the conference will be held at Gull Lake Ministries, a Christian retreat center on the east side of Gull Lake. This summer, 60 students and leaders traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado for the Desperation Conference, a youth conference that draws over 7,000 students from around the country in desperate pursuit of Jesus Christ. Arise acts as a “mini-desperation.” The cost is significantly less and the travel time is about 15 minutes instead of 22 hours. Arise gives even more local students an opportunity to encounter the presence of God.
“The purpose of Arise is to create space for teens to encounter God in a powerful way,” Radiant Youth Pastor Jon Zondervan said.
Zondervan has been pastoring over the youth at Radiant Church for 10 years now. Two years ago, Radiant Youth started the Arise conference. The attendance of the conference will obviously include those who are “on fire for Jesus,” however, anyone and everyone is welcome.
“The conference is for anyone who desires a deeper connection to God through Jesus Christ and wants to grow in their ability to live like Christ lived on Earth,” Zondervan said.
Arise is for the younger generation that will be teachers and parents in the near future. The purpose of having the conference for teens to encounter God is to create a foundation for those young people.
“The focus on youth is two fold, first, that is the area that I oversee,” Zondervan said. “More importantly, it is the reality that in our younger years of life is when we form many of the beliefs about who God is and who we are that stay with us our entire adult lives.”
Students will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and embrace Arise’s theme this year, “No Limits.” Radiant Youth wants its students to be unafraid to press into worship and pursue Jesus more than they ever have before. No limits has several meanings for the conference.
“We want to take the limits off of what God can do in a life that is surrendered to Him,” Zondervan said. “Also, we want to take the limits off of us as we strive to serve Him.”
Arise is more than just a religion camp for teens. Arise serves as a place where young people can go, for one weekend, to grow closer to God without being made fun of, ridiculed and bullied for choosing to live out their faith. Pastor Zondervan believes that this conference serves a greater purpose than any old “bible camp.”
“More than anything, I want young people to actually experience the presence of God,” Zondervan said. “Not religion, not what they’ve been told, but the unfathomable love of the one who created them.”
Arise will cost $175 and will take place Friday, January 8 through Sunday, January 10. Students can sign up at radiantchurch.tv/ministries/youth.
- This is my third year on staff, my second as Sports Editor. I am a senior at Gull Lake and plan to attend the University of Alabama next year and major in accounting. I play basketball and baseball and was selected as captain of the varsity basketball team for the coming season. I have a passion for sports and writing about them and look forward to a great year of writing.