- Written by Sam and Pauline Doerksen
Excitement, nervousness, anticipation – these were some of the feelings that we experienced a year ago as we prepared for the grand opening of the Kerith Retreat centre in East Braintree, Man. There were many last-minute construction details that needed to be taken care of along with final touches to the décor to ensure that our guests would find their accommodations welcoming and restful. Our kitchen needed to be stocked with delicious, healthy food and our staff had to be equipped and ready to go.
Amidst all the praying, planning and preparing for this much-needed ministry centre, there was a little bit of fear of the unknown. What would happen if no one registered? What was the best way to get the word out about such a ministry? What if ministry leaders did not see the value in a place to come away from their regular routines of ministry so they could have time to rest, be refreshed and revisit the calling that the Lord placed on their hearts? What if ministry leaders wanted to come but did not have the means to make it affordable? How would the Lord raise up donors to continue to support such a ministry?
It has been amazing to see how the Lord has settled many of those fears as we approach our one-year anniversary. We have had the opportunity to meet with many denominational leaders and parachurch organizations to share what Kerith Retreats is all about, who it is intended for and how God has ministered to His servants during this seven-day retreat. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response during these times. The need for soul care among caregivers has been under much discussion and Kerith Retreats provides a place to be proactive in that area.
During our first year in East Braintree, Man., we have had the privilege of running nine retreats. That’s three more than we expected! We were thrilled to see the registrations come in from across Canada and the United States. Going forward, we have a retreat scheduled for each month and registrations are picking up even more.
You may be asking if there is value in having such a retreat. The feedback we’ve received from our guests proves there is a tremendous need for this ministry. Here are what just a few of our guests had to say:
“Our time at Kerith Retreats was exactly what we needed for our marriage and our life as missionaries. I would highly recommend it to others in ministry!”
“My time at Kerith was a much-needed stop in the constant busyness of ministry life. I found rest, peace and love from those who served and loved on us.”
“I came here with a lot of fear and apprehension, but God met me here. Through the material, program directors and fellow couples, He opened my eyes and heart to many things. Time in this beautiful setting with my spouse has renewed my love and commitment to our marriage and my walk with God. I am changed for this week here.”
“A time of decompressing and slowing down so that God can once again speak to my soul. The pampering and teaching was a true blessing and enabled me to relax and enjoy God again.”
One of the most frequently mentioned highlights is the time away from life and ministry routines.
Our retreats are structured to provide our guests with the opportunity to be still and learn the rhythms of grace in their life. Kerith Retreats provides a quiet sanctuary where you can receive from God and deepen your connection with Him and with your calling. Ministry leaders who are married have found these retreats also provide much-needed quality time with their spouse.
It takes many people to make a retreat happen. As a team, we have been blessed with an ever-growing group of volunteers. We are very thankful that God has brought along so many different people with different gifts to work together, including prayer warriors, host couples, caretakers, directors, donors and many behind-the-scenes volunteers who add all those special touches. All of them are motivated by love. Love for our Father, love for those we work alongside and love for those who cross the threshold at Kerith Pines.
As we move into our second year of operation, we continue to ask the Lord for direction on how to encourage those He has called into ministry. One of our biggest challenges is the realization that there are many ministry leaders who are not aware of Kerith Retreats. They do not know that there is a place out there for them to attend. We are always open to opportunities to speak at conferences or to denominational leaders and parachurch organizations to let them know that Kerith Retreats is available to their team of leaders. We invite you to join us in spreading the news of Kerith Retreats with the ministry leaders you rub shoulders with.
Sam and Pauline Doerksen are the program directors at the Manitoba Kerith Retreats location. For more information about our retreats, visit Kerithretreats.ca.
Reference to the individuals and organizations quoted does not constitute a blanket endorsement of either the individuals’ external work or their respective organizations.
© 2015 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.