Summer Family Conference Held in January!
The theme of this year’s conference was "Draw Near to God." There were videos shown from last year’s Family Conference in Big Sandy, Texas. Bob Newhouse also spoke at a number of the sessions. Tim Levendusky was able to share at the conference via Skype and to encourage folks to press on and faithfully maintain Christ-centered ministry activities at Arahina. The Family Conference was a wonderful time of encouragement, sweet fellowship, helpful ministry, great food, and lovely summer weather. Many lives were strengthened and inspired to draw nearer to God. There was a special farewell for the Strong family who has faithfully served at the Arahina Training Centre for the past seven years.
Parents Encouraged, Notes of GratitudeOne mother wrote: "Thank you for an awesome and uplifting conference. It was like a marriage retreat, children's camp, and homeschooling seminar all rolled into one. We know you all have put a lot of time and effort and prayer into planning the conference. My husband and I are keen to help continue the ministry of IBLP in NZ, and hope to get together with other ATI families to organize some activities in our city."
A father wrote: "I was really encouraged listening about drawing near to God. Drawing near to God in prayer and reading the Word each day can be done with a sense of duty or obligation, but now I feel a desire in my heart to draw near."Another mother wrote: "Congratulations on a FANTASTIC conference. I have had comments from our family that it was the best yet and that there was a real spirit of love throughout…. I saw great character among the serving students, a willingness to help even if it meant they might miss out on something. [There was] a real gentle spirit of love and a willingness to build each other up in the Lord. I was particularly blessed by the young men singing hymns in parts while happily washing and drying a pile of dishes that would make most young people want to cry. I felt blessed to be a part of the group."
Students Gather for Annual ConferenceAfter the Family Conference wrapped up on Monday, the Student Conference was held January 25-28, at the Arahina Training Centre. Sarah-Louise Smith was joined by Sam and Laura Oliverio in leading the conference. Another favorite, Gabriel Cleator, shared with the young people via FaceTime. With 51 students attending, it was a blessed time of fellowship and learning. With the theme "Understanding what God requires of us," many students gained a deeper understanding of God's grace and power working through us and were encouraged and inspired to truly live for Him through His strength, not ours. Highlights included live speakers for all sessions, question-and-answer time with Sam and Laura, and the water games.
Encouragement Expressed in Testimonies
One student wrote: "I nearly didn't attend family conference this year, but missing Student Conference was simply out of the question. Each year I look forward to the renewed perspective and encouragement as I begin my year - this year absolutely did not disappoint!"Another wrote: "I attended the student conference this year as a leader. I came away so blessed and encouraged by the girls on my team. We soon found none of us were perfect. We all needed prayer and challenging in our walk with God. When you are a leader, you can feel as though you should somehow have it all together, and this year I was especially tired leading up to conference. I awoke one morning really praying that God would reach the girls on my team in spite of my own weakness. Moments later I was encouraged by a team member coming to share with me and ask for prayer. It was like God was confirming He can use us when we rely on Him, not on our own strength. There were so many unscheduled moments where we were able to share and pray and find answers in God's Word. Praise God for another student conference!"