Two Kingdoms Retreat

In life, two kingdoms are constantly at war; one is good, one is evil. In which camp will you choose to plant your flag?

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Twenty-four students faced this question on SPO Arizona's Two Kingdoms retreat at the beginning of February. Located in the beautiful woods of Payson, AZ, the retreat was an opportunity for participants to take a breather from school or work to uncover the areas in their lives where they were still on the fence. 

Spiritual warfare is real and a big deal. The war between good and evil has been going on since the dawn of time, and we are all part of it – whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not. The two sides are in complete opposition of one another; there is no neutral ground. So, as Christ said, "he who is not with me is against me, he who does not gather with me scatters" (Mt. 12:30).

Following the talks, students would break into small groups to discuss how these topics played out in their personal lives. Various forms of prayer and sacraments were incorporated throughout to ensure that the participants and staff were relying on the Lord's strength in all things, aware that spiritual warfare was at work even there.

The students left the retreat with a better understanding of these realities, stronger resolve to fight for the Lord's army, and a greater sense of belonging to His kingdom.

One student writes:

The Two Kingdoms Retreat surpassed my expectations. All I was hoping for was a weekend away, good company, and some nice talks and testimonies. However, I learned that when you open your ears to hear the Lord, He will speak to your heart! The Two Kingdoms retreat gave me a chance to listen to the Lord and learn from my community. During those three days of lessons, small group meetings, prayer and reflection I was reminded that the battle between good and evil is real. The devil jealously wants to use us, but the Lord loves us and wants our love. The Lord wants us all to more firmly plant our flags on His side. For me, this means that I must open my heart more to the Lord and my community. I should be more confident in my gifts and trust in the Lord. I should unhesitatingly choose His kingdom!
— Alsatia Shope, Freshman

The Mission Leaders and Student Missionaries, though serving on the retreat, were also able to  get something out of the weekend. 

I expected the Two Kingdoms Retreat to be a labor of love. I knew as a student missionary that my primary goal was to serve, and what took me by surprise is that I received a lot from the Lord as well. As the tech guy, the Lord tested my humility. I wanted to pride myself on how well I could do my service, but after a few mishaps regarding morning prayer and realizing I wasn’t fully prepared to improvise, God brought me to reality. I felt embarrassed, but it didn’t matter; the Lord still worked in the lives of the other retreatants. My mistakes did not get in the Lord’s way. I also learned to humble myself as I led a small group. The Lord opened my eyes to see that I, along with the brothers I led, were all caught on the same battleground. It is an act of courage and humility to place one’s flag in the Lord’s camp, and I believe that is what he wanted to teach me.
— AJ Gasca, Senior