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Student Leaders Attend Retreat in Gatlinburg

By: Emmie Dean and Sammy Mull

Journalism Students

On Jan. 12, 2024, members of the Student Leadership Academy traveled to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a winter retreat.  


Forty students and four staff members attended the Crossroads Winter Conference hosted by Clayton King Ministries. NRCA buses arrived Friday night in time for the worship and sermon. That night, Jacob King preached on how students can set their lives on God, their firm foundation. Worship was one of the students’ favorite things from that day, and Jacob’s message was the perfect balance of entertaining yet serious and easy to comprehend. Jacob had a fun demonstration using Legos and confetti to describe the parable of the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house on the rock from Matthew 7.  


Cece Gue, a freshman, said one of her favorite parts of the conference was that she “learned about the character of God and that he’s loyal to you, he's faithful to you, and you have confidence through him.”  


Saturday, Student Leadership Academy members attended two morning sessions and one at night. The services in the morning were taught by Chris Dew and Whitney Sullivan. Senior Ellie Poteat said Dew’s message had a major impact on her. “...Saturday morning when Chris Dew was speaking, he spoke a lot about going on mission and how we can do that in our everyday life, and I just remember everything he said, and it was really impactful,” she said. 


Whitney taught about the six R’s: reflect, read, remember, rejoice, repeat, and reach out. These actions describe how Christians should live their everyday life. She shared her personal experiences and mental health struggles, which connected with many. Afterward, the NRCA contingent went to Downtown Flavortown for lunch and fun activities, including an arcade and mini bowling.  


The evening service featured a time of worship and a message from Clayton King. Clayton taught that because God is strong, we can be saved.  


On Sunday, the students went to two more morning services. God’s presence filled the hearts of people in the room. Students heard from Sharie King and Matt Holloman. Sharie's message was about how only God's design satisfies us and how we won't be satisfied until we fill our hearts with God. Matt's message was about how to have a gospel-driven conversation.    


Junior Micah Hartley said this conference helped him realize his call to ministry. “I've always thought that I'd be an entrepreneur or an engineer or something like that. So, it's cool that God's using my gifts for his Kingdom rather than for worldly stuff,” Hartley said.  


The students also grew closer to each other. Senior Lily Green said, "I think I learned a lot about growing community because we were with freshmen all the way up to seniors, and it was very good for me to grow my relationships with the underclassmen." 


Due to a winter weather event in the area, NRCA’s team had to leave the conference early so they could safely make it back home. 


At the conference, 205 people were saved, and the student leaders were blessed to be a part of the weekend.  


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