2023 Children’s Ministries Training Retreat

April 11, 2023

BURLESON, TEX. – The 2023 Southwestern Union Children’s Ministries Retreat took place at Lone Star Camp in Athens, Tex., on March 10-12. More than 300 leaders from across the Southwestern Union participated in the three-day event themed, “Seek & Find”.

Friday afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to visit the Children’s Prayer Room. In the room, the leaders can visit 13 prayer stations and learn how to implement those ideas and stations at their local churches for kids ages three to fourteen. 

At the Sabbath school corner, they got new ideas on how to teach the Sabbath school lesson using simple, practical, creative and mostly homemade objects. Studying the lesson should be fun and attractive!

At the general session, Southwestern Union President Carlos Craig welcomed everyone, and Tony Anobile, Southwestern Union vice president for church ministries, translated.

The main seminars presented during the whole weekend were on children’s mental health. We had the privilege to have the Trauma Education and Care team from Andrews University. Five professional presenters that not only shared with us important and valuable information, but took the time to minister in a personal way to some of our leaders. 

Sabbath morning was fun but busy, continuing with the mental health training. One unique training was “The Brain Architecture Game.” We discussed the importance of relationships and focussed on the time and dedication that children’s Sabbath school, Adventurer and Pathfinder leaders provide to the children and their families.

At worship time, the group, Thrive, from the Robertson Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston, guided us in praises to the Lord. Our guest speaker was an eighth-grade student from Keene Adventist Elementary School, Nevaeha Wilson. “Ask. Seek. Knock.” was the title of her presentation. She did a great job motivating us to come to the Lord God who is always willing and ready to provide for each and one of us.

We delved into the “Go Fish” program on Sabbath afternoon. This program allows kids to explore their own spiritual gifts and learn how they can minister to others using these God-given gifts. Six different learning stations or “hooks” were set up entitled Teacher/Storyteller, Ministry/Mercy, Music/Creative Expression, Prayer/Encourager, Artist/Designer and Preacher/Evangelistic. 

On Sabbath evening, the Andrews University team gave a presentation on mental health. I’m grateful to God for these leaders and teachers. I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide them on the enormous responsibility we have to help kids to be healthy, mentally and spiritually. The team shared resources, important presentations and motivated us to do our best for the Lord and His little children.

Saturday night, we celebrated each of the dedicated children’s ministries leaders with a special dinner in their honor. We wanted to say thank you, so our team served them at their tables. They were our special guests.

Sunday morning, every one of us was a kid for a day! The Vacation Bible School (VBS) program “Fiercely Faithful” was presented in a very interactive way! We visited the Mazan Oasis for the opening and closing part of the program; singing, praying, watching Adventist Development and Relief Agency videos and more. We played games at the SandPit station, learned about the Bible story at the House of Peace station, made a craft at the Cabana Shop station and, my favorite, we learned about intercessory prayer at the Yeshua’s Gate station. “Fiercely Faithful” is the VBS program for 2023 and is a perfect program to reach out to the children in your community.

God is amazing! We are very blessed to have great resources to work with children. I thank Him for all of the leaders, coordinators and teachers who attended the training and dedicated their time and talent to minister children in the Southwestern Union territory. May the Lord bless us!

By Sonia Cano
Children’s Ministries Director