Hello, I’m John. I have been a Christian most of my life. Engineering is my profession. I’m a member of YOB and happen to be gay.

I started pledging for YOB on Patreon in 2021 — not long after discovering both YOB and Revoice for myself. Since joining the YOBBERS community, I had been accumulating in-person meetups at two Revoice conferences. In fact, at the 2023 conference earlier this year I stayed in an Airbnb full of YOBBERS.

This would be my first camp retreat with YOB. I had signed up for the 2022 retreat and was ready to go, but I ended up sick and had to cancel. I was eager to get this YOBBERS retreat experience at last.

Even with limited in-person meetings, I was already getting to know so many YOBBERS through our various Zoom calls and Discord conversations. I’ve spent hours getting to know everyone’s theories and opinions on the numerous books we’ve read in our monthly book club. I’ve also attended a couple of YOB’s virtual retreats and events.

This year’s camp retreat was finally my opportunity to meet face-to-face with a bunch of friends I’d never met without a computer screen in between. Would I know what to say or how to react to everyone? Would I forget having already met someone?

Near the start of the weekend, someone in the group commented that seeing everyone at the retreat was like seeing celebrities in person after only ever seeing them on Zoom calls. I can certainly relate to that: it is surreal, but I really did feel like we knew each other well in a significantly symmetric way, unlike a one-way relationship with a celebrity.

I entered my first YOBBERS retreat hoping for renewal out of this weekend. But would I really get that renewal? Would I see a refresh of strength — mentally, physically, spiritually?

Both before the retreat and now after, I’ve been fighting depression and anxiety. They are all too certain a set of personal realities. By no means am I saying that the retreat somehow fixed them; in fact, they were on my mind along with my medical concerns.

However, there’s just something about the camaraderie of being with my brothers in YOB that can get me beyond the worries of the day. No matter how temporarily.

I was a member of one of the two Joy tribes (small groups) at this retreat. During one of our tribe sessions, I said that I feel that God is rooting for us. I really do believe this, and we can have joy in knowing this.

God knows about all our hurts and pains. He knows the ways we’ve been let down — and the ways we’ve let others down. He knows each shortcoming we see in ourselves. He loves us and wants to see the best for us. I believe he has given us each other to be a support for one another and love one another.

YOB is a perfect example of brothers loving and caring for one another. As I write this, my mom is entering surgery. I know that my brothers in YOB are praying both for her and myself as we endure this difficult time. I am so thankful for that support.

Even though my tribe wasn’t the Vulnerability tribe, my brothers in Joy were able to be quite vulnerable with one another, sharing some very difficult aspects of our stories. Vulnerability is just built-in to YOB’s way of doing things.

The leadership and those who helped lead worship at this retreat deserve a lot of thanks. I’m thankful for the various ways each retreat attendee was a help and inspiration to me.

The community filled in strength for me when I didn’t have it.

This year’s retreat included an optional extra day for those who wanted to stick around a bit longer. I got in a good hike that day with a group of folks. I’m thankful for the enthusiasm some had for that hike, as well as the brothers who took the shorter route with me. I needed that extra bit of exercise I may not have gotten otherwise. This is one area of physical strength where I hope to improve in the future.

I also hope to improve my musical ability over the next year. I haven’t been practicing my piano much and think I would find some joy in rebuilding my strength musically. Perhaps I could help with a song at a future retreat?

So, was the renewal of my first retreat successful? Despite not being as present as I would have liked to be, along with being nervous about medical issues, I did feel like this retreat was an excellent time of growth and refreshment. This weekend was indeed a successful renewal.

I left this YOBBERS retreat looking forward to next year’s. I’ve already got a longing for it.

What experiences have brought renewal in your faith and to your spirit? Do you feel as if God is rooting for you?

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