MOVE 2019 challenges students to shed excuses, get engaged

“True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all people.”

These words were written in 1539 by Menno Simons, the founder of the Mennonite movement. They could’ve easily been written in April 2019.

April 5 and 6 to be exact. Over those two days, 132 high school students and their leaders from 17 NWC churches gathered at Hope Covenant Church in St. Cloud to focus on living out Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-39, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’(NIV). No excuses.

MOVE is like other high school retreats in that there’s worship. Lawrence Miles and his band did an amazing job of leading the students. And there’s teaching. Stephanie O’Brien challenged MOVE participants to wrestle with their excuses and to get creative in living out Jesus’ commands.There’s sleeping on church floors. Hope Covenant was an incredible host. And there’s lots of pizza and donuts. HUGE donuts. Donuts the size of pies.

What makes MOVE different is that it’s focused on putting faith into action. Right here. Right now.

Early Saturday morning, students and leaders put their faith into action by spreading throughout St. Cloud and serving with ministries and organizations that are addressing tough issues and situations in their communities. Groups assisted newly arrived refugees to the United States, learned about those who are being forced into sex trafficking, and heard stories about the needs of those who are in the foster care system. They walked the neighborhood and learned about those who call St. Cloud State home. They picked up trash and cleaned up boulevards.

What also makes MOVE different is that it’s focused on putting faith into action in the future. At home—in students’ own towns and cities and suburbs.

Saturday afternoon, students investigated their own community’s issues and then brainstormed solutions, ala Shark Tank. After presenting their ideas to the Shark Tank judges (Stephanie Williams O’Brien – pastor and author, Kirsten Wagenius – InterVarsity staff at St. Cloud State, and Josh Svendsen – K-YES Radio), First Covenant River Falls was awarded the Judges’ Choice Grant. They received $250 to implement their idea of creating tied fleece blankets to bring comfort to those in the mental health system in the River Falls area.

Hope Covenant (St. Cloud) won the People’s Choice Grant of $100 for their idea of raising concern about sex trafficking in St. Cloud. The last time MOVE did Shark Tank, Bemidji Covenant received the Judges’ Choice Grant and started a color run to bring awareness to addiction issues in their community. That color run is still going on to this day.

MOVE is a unique retreat. It’s filled with eye-opening experiences, hard and dirty work, challenging topics and uncomfortable lodging. It’s not for every student. But for those who come, they walk away with a clear sense of Menno Simmons exhortation, “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant.”