ISP is now an international ministry.
This past October, we were able to hold our first retreat in Canada.
Of the many things we have to be grateful for, among the newest organizationally is our success across international borders. And yet, in one sense, it’s quite true to who we are as one of the many gifts of the ISP ministry is to see that one’s story is connected to the story of a much larger community: hope is found when one can recognize that one’s burden need not be carried alone. The ISP retreat blurs borders.
One young gentleman in particular had a powerful experience on the retreat. A man of just thirty years, “Aaron” (not his real name) came to the retreat as a survivor of many of the horrific struggles our retreatants commonly face. His encounters with violence, abuse, and neglect left him disposed to turn to the temporary salve of intoxicating elements. This was the start of his addiction which robbed him of his genuine sense of self and his hopeful outlook. He previously received a degree in early childhood education because he wanted to give back to “kids like him” who didn’t have the best shot in life. Unfortunately, his addiction proved too powerful a force and eventually found himself on the street. On the retreat, he began to notice something new emerging in himself. When asked about his greatest fear, Aaron said: “My greatest fear is that I’ll die without making a difference in someone’s life. I want to make a difference.” This desire signaled a significant change in his outlook, attitude, and being: he saw the world again as a place he wanted to belong and change.
As luck would have it, Aaron was presented with the opportunity to work on his dream just a few hours later. The ISP retreat features a witness statement where someone is invited to share his or her story. The team asked Aaron if he would share. Aaron gave an honest and inspired account of himself and his relationship with God. “I realize now that I never really gave God a chance because of all the bad stuff that happened to me,” Aaron said. “I think I need to give him that chance now.” Afterward, someone said, “Your story gave me hope Aaron.” He smiled and said thanks.
Aaron’s dream might not be that far away.
The team invited Aaron and everyone else to attend the follow up in a few weeks. It is hoped that this inaugural experience will prove the foundation of other transformations yet to be realized.