Article by Laura Payne, Fresh Hope Mission & Ministry Team

In July, we had 30 students from our ADVENTURE, IMPART, RECHARGE and TOPS INTERNSHIP programs plus 15 leaders join us for Winter School 2017. For six days we learnt, worshipped, played, ate, laughed and cried together as we each wrestled with the deeper issues of our individual and collective spiritual journey’s.

ADVENTURE, IMPART, RECHARGE and THE TOPS INTERNSHIP are programs that have at the heart, a desire to see deeply formed disciples and spiritual leaders. We began the week by inviting the students into a ‘refining fire’. One where they could ask God to increase the good in them while simultaneously cutting out the death and darkness.

And it was exciting to see a community of men and women who were willing to be vulnerable, to risk openness and to dig up things deeply rooted in their lives in order to allow the Holy Spirit to do his transforming work.

Here are what some of our students said about the Winter School experience:

“People are real, we talk about real issues and nothing is hidden. Last year I was praying for authentic Christians I could look up to and do life with, and God has answered my prayer. I wasn’t expecting to experience the freedom I did at Winter School. I found freedom from things I didn’t even realize were holding me back from being fully sold out for Jesus. I finally feel as if I am able to accept the grace God has so freely given me. I can’t even begin to explain how incredible it feels.” (Ruby, Impart student)

“I had the opportunity to face up to fears, particularly a fear of heights. I had previously accepted this as being part of my makeup. We were given the opportunity to abseil, so I decided to trust in God, other people and myself. I had lots of encouragement, some great coaching and I actually enjoyed traversing from the top of a cliff to the bottom. And what a great sense of freedom it was for me to overcome this fear! The close community that formed through the week was hard to describe and left an indelible imprint on me. To worship, talk, laugh and participate in experiences together with ADVENTURE, IMPART and TOPS students as well as my fellow RECHARGE students brought fun, joy and a connectedness that is difficult to describe in words. This week would have to be one of the best in my life!” (Gary, Recharge student)

“Winter School was a time of great joy. I personally dealt with some heavy strongholds in my life. It was through the wisdom of others and time spent in prayer that I felt a huge release of the chains that were tying me down. They no longer have a hold on me! I no longer feel daunted by or anxious about what the future holds. I am excited to be on this journey with my Heavenly Father. I feel like I experienced a bit of heaven at Winter School and that gives me hope to keep persevering to bring His Kingdom here on earth.” (Amy, Impart student)

As someone who has been a student through these programs, and is now participating as a leader in the journey of these students, I feel very privileged to be able to witness the transformation and freedom that was sought and experienced at Winter School this year. Please join us in praying for our students as they continue to choose freedom daily.

Find out more about ADVENTURE or IMPART.

Find out more about the TOPS INTERNSHIP.

Find out more about RECHARGE.