Do you like a break from work? I know I do, but even better than a break from work is a Christian break from work. Ashram mean to break from work and it is actually a Hindu practice, that has been adopted into a Christian practice of Retreat with an Evangelist, Bible Teacher, Prayer, Worship, and good friends who become family.
A year ago I was asked to lead the youth group portion of the Kansas Christian Ashram. I remember wondering what in the world that was, but knowing the man who asked me, it had to be a cool thing. So I talked with my pastor and did some research and then I agreed to go. I loaded up my pregnant tired self and headed to Sterling, Kansas not really sure what to expect. I met some of the coolest people I have had the pleasure to know. I spent most of my time with the youth but each evening we joined the adults for the Evangelist hour. From the Open heart ceremony to the healing service and the hour of the over flowing heart I was awestruck at this different way to do worship with people I had never met.
I am United Methodist by tradition and I always feel a little out of place when I do worship in a way that is new to me. So I found it extremely comforting to be surrounded by United Methodist Pastors, many of whom know my father in law and my pastor. I remember being incredibly skeptical at the beginning of the week and knowing when I went home that this was something I wanted my child to experience on a regular basis. The first year I was overwhelmed by the whole experience and just how much the spirit moved in just three days.
So I returned this year with my almost 7 month old in tow. Wondering why it was I agreed to do one more things this summer that required us to be away from home and Adah's daddy for a third week. In her seventh month of life we spent three weeks of it away from Adam. But I had agreed so here we were back in Sterling, Kansas ready to teach the youth about calling.
The week begins with the Hour of the Open Heart. And everyone in attendance has the opportunity to share if they wish what it is that they need and want this week while they are at the Ashram. I didn't share because I wasn't sure what I wanted, because what I wanted was not there. I wanted to be with my husband. I wanted my own bed, and the comforts of home, not to be at another commitment depriving my daughter of time spent with her daddy. So I sat in the back and listened as others shared.
The next day I returned after a remarkable night of sleep in the motel (I couldn't believe how comfortable the bed was). We ate breakfast then the youth and I slipped away for youth group. I had forgotten how quiet this group of kids were and we played some games to break the ice and re-get to know each other. We met for 2 hours then returned to listen to the Evangelist. Lunch followed and then we went and sang songs at the Presbyterian Manor and played Bingo. When we returned we had 2 more hours of youth group, then dinner, a Lay Witness Hour, and another hour with the Evangelist.
Thankfully my parents decided to come to Sterling to help me out and they took Adah for the day and came back for dinner. I had two youth with me to help out. And Jake, my intern shared his Testimony on Thursday night. He did a great job. He also joined the band and played guitar for the praise and worship times.
We had the same schedule on Friday, except we had free time in the afternoon instead of the mission work. So I went back to the hotel to nap with Adah. The nap didn't work so well, but we had fun anyway. Then I returned for the afternoon and evening. I was asked to give my testimony on Friday night, and since I made Jake do it the day before I decided to share. I had to leave before the healing ceremony to put Adah to bed but Saturday I returned well rested and ready for the final pieces of the day, knowing Adah would soon be returning to Hesston with my parents to see her daddy.
While I had the youth and Allie had the children, the adults were in Bible Study with the Bible Teacher and in prayer with one another.
Words that would have previously turned me off to an event like this are Evangelist, Ashram, Healing Service, Time of Silence, and Testimony sharing. But there is something about this Ashram that has captured my heart and made me a believer in what it does and what it stands for. These are the things I love about the Ashram.
1. Immediately I became a part of the family. There are no outsiders here, everyone is part of the family and everyone is cared about, talked to, and invested in.
2. My child was loved deeply here. From the adults to the children everyone loved my child and asked about her when she was away with her grandparents.
3. The youth have a special place in my heart and I look forward to seeing them again.
4. The grandparents. Most of the children and youth were there with their grandparents. This is powerful to me, these grandparents were investing in the spiritual lives of their grandchildren even if their parents were unable to attend.
5. The chef at the college. This might seem weird but this man just has an overflowing kind of spirit. He loves his job, and he takes great care in serving the people that come into his kitchen.
6. The youth I brought with me were loved and cherished by all, and invested in. They were not seen as too young or incapable because of their age, instead they were encouraged and pushed in the direction of the their callings and used in a way according to their gifts. They were appreciated in the way that I appreciate them, they were seen the way I see them by more than just me.
7. I got to teach and to learn. I spent 4 hours of each day teaching and then I also got to spend the same amount of time learning. This is rare when you work in the church to get to go somewhere that feeds into you as much if not more than you are pouring out into others.
I pray that you will prayerfully consider making this part of your summer next year. July 19-22, mark your calendars now. Visit http://kansaschristianashram.org/home/ for more information. Your soul will be renewed, prayed for, invested in, and loved in so many ways, no matter your age or background!