USA: Living a fulfilling life with Midwest CARP
By Aika Callahan, CARP USA
The Midwest CARP Chapters, Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Indianapolis, brought together 25 participants for a weekend retreat in Camp KOHOE in Benton Harbor, Michigan last weekend from January 9 to 11. The theme of the retreat was “Becoming a Global Citizen” inspired by CARP Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s autobiography.
We utilized the HyoJeong Promise as a framework for CARP members to become a global citizen by first developing a personal and living relationship with God, devoting oneself for the sake of marriage and family, and then impacting the world in a positive way. Lectures were given throughout the three days by Gerry Servito, affectionately known as Uncle Gerry, and Pastor Josue Kisile of Grand Rapids.
The first HyoJeong Promise, as shared by Uncle Gerry, was sectioned into two parts: “Who is God?” and “Who am I to God?” This helped participants to understand who God is and ourselves as His children. Uncle Gerry helped them to understand that God is our parent who loves all his children and that we should all treat each other as brothers and sisters because we have a mutual parent in God.
To invite God in and set intentions throughout the workshop, several activities were planned. Participants took part in a prayer walk and were asked to pick someone to forgive and write it on a piece of paper to have burned to offer up any past forms of hurt and/or anger. Then, participants reflected on their intentions for the retreat and shared their action steps with their teams. To better understand themselves as a unique embodiment of God, participants also created “This is Me” boards, reflecting on and expressing who they are through arts and crafts. The first day was exciting with many opportunities to meet new people and lots of activities.
One brother named Jules Muhizi from Grand Rapids shared that this opportunity to share and interact answered many of the questions he had. He was raised Catholic but had only been Catholic in name until the day he was saved in high school. Despite finding his faith, he had a lot of questions. He never felt that those questions would overturn his faith but would only continue to strengthen them over time. That first night, he had the opportunity to ask these questions to others from different Christian backgrounds and was able to hear the perspective of all of them. He felt that his faith was strengthened by asking these questions and from the lectures during the day.
On the second day, we continued onto the second HyoJeong Promise, which was given by Josue. He used the CARP Curriculum, “Love & Sexuality” and “Marriage & Family,” as a framework to understand the value of purity and upholding its integrity for the sake of one’s future marriage and family. After the lectures, there was a panel with Uncle Gerry, Josue, Mr. and Mrs. Jesper and Soogin Ogden. Participants got to hear many testimonies about marriages and marriage preparation during this panel.
Afterwards, the participants brainstormed action steps to overcome challenges in their current relationships in a guided reflective activity. They were then put to the test through wall-sits to solidify their commitment to those relationships. It was difficult to maintain seriousness in the beginning, but by 15 minutes, participants were determined to keep themselves against the wall until the end. With much support for one another, they made it through 21 min of wall-sits. The night ended with sharing gratitude points, with many appreciating each other and their experiences.
On the third day, we were unexpectedly met with mud and rain. Due to the rain from the previous night, an Amazon delivery truck got stuck in the mud during breakfast. The brothers were asked to help push the truck out of the mud. It turned out to be a great opportunity to practice what they read in the morning about setting goals for the sake of the world to become global citizens. After many failed attempts, their spirit and determination got the truck out. Although the schedule got delayed, it was a beautiful moment to see the brothers celebrating after working together and helping someone in need.
Afterwards, we finished with the third HyoJeong Promise by Uncle Gerry. Participants learned about using their passions and unique gifts from God to make a positive impact on the world to ultimately become a global citizen. They reflected on goals for the coming year and challenges or fears they may face in pursuing them. Individuals were given a wooden board and were asked to write their goals on one side and obstacles on the other. Afterwards, each person declared their goals and obstacles in front of the audience and broke the boards as a declaration to achieve those goals. Everyone was supportive of each other, and some people even chose to break two or even three boards at once.
At the end, Josue concluded the retreat, stating that the purpose of CARP isn’t to convert people but rather “to turn people into better Christians, better Muslims, better Buddhists, etc. to strengthen their relationships with our Heavenly Parent and build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.” After concluding the retreat, everyone went to enjoy time together through bowling before parting ways.
“My second CARP retreat was wonderful, and I ended up being a team leader instead of a participant this time. I loved hearing their experiences and their journeys of faith and spirituality. This was a highlight of mine. Another is that I was given the chance to strengthen and stretch my ability to love others as a team leader. I practiced patience, trusting my gut, and thinking outside the box. Overall I had a fun time, more than last time. I also gained more clarity and confidence in my faith thanks to our speakers Uncle Gerry Servito and Josue Kisile. It was a nice way to start off year 2020.” – K.M. (Minneapolis, MN)
“Firstly, I would like to say thank you to our community for making this retreat a reality. Whether that was our sisters who organized the weekend, the council members who helped finance the expenses, everyone who participated in Indiana, and all the prayers, support, and love from our community I thank you for allowing me to have a wonderful and meaningful experience.
One of the greatest gifts I have ever received this past weekend was being able to meet other people with different backgrounds and beliefs and interact with them. The opportunity to openly share our different perspectives is rare in my circle of influences so I am very glad to have attended this retreat. That is why I personally do my best to attend any chance I get to explore more about my faith or challenge my values.
This retreat was also very impactful thanks to our speakers, Josue Kisile and Dr. Gerry Servito. We are so blessed to have such knowledgeable and passionate brothers to share their wisdom, faith, and principles as the treasure that must be shared to others. Through them, I was able to substantially see the fruits of our principles and how applicable they can be in our lives. Conceptually I understood our teachings, but this retreat helped me see what those teachings are in the flesh.
Overall, I gained a lot more about myself and how much more I am looking forward to growing even better/faster as a public citizen for others and more importantly myself. I have learned that I have been extremely selfish and not taking care of myself as well so I will be using the tools and teachings from this retreat to have a better year and a great 2020 for myself.
Thank you once more to all those in charge and in support to make this retreat a reality and I look forward to everyone’s continuous support for these events to be successful.” – N.N. (IUPUI)
“This retreat was an incredible turning point for me. From an organizer’s perspective, there were many moments of losing control of the steering wheel that I had become so obsessed with holding onto the past year. We had to constantly adjust the schedule, a number of participants didn’t show up, and an Amazon van got stuck in the mud. Nonetheless, it was in these moments that God worked to bring people together to provide them with the experiences of love and inclusivity. ” Y.I. (IUPUI)
“Before I came here, I was an agnostic. When I was younger, I would pray every night, but one day I stopped. I could not justify the reason. I could not convince myself that God existed. But then, Uncle Gerry said these words that changed my whole perspective. ‘God is a parent.’ That is a very powerful statement to me. Then, I slowly think back to all the questions I had, and it just made sense. It clicked. Like, every thought of doubt that I had in my mind, it just dissolved. I could relate to how people worship God. I’m a pretty scientific person and I wasn’t religious, so I asked a lot of questions before. But now I understand. I think throughout these whole 3 days, 2 night experience, I feel my life is changing. I am excited for what is coming up, and I can’t wait to see where I will be in the future.” – P.H. (IUPUI)
“I came because I was invited by Josue. I was indecisive about coming at first, but I am glad I came! I got the chance to meet new people, socialize and have fun. I learned a lot of important things about God and religion that I didn’t know before and that meant a lot to me. I’m very interested to learn more. This helps me have a better understanding of God and how serious and meaningful it is to have a relationship with him in our life.” A.B. (GRCC)
“I came to CARP Camp not knowing exactly what it was. It took me a while to settle in and get used to the environment. But a huge encouragement was meeting genuine people driven by their faith and ambition to help others. It is not often you find a group of like-minded individuals, especially ones that are young adults. I learned a lot about what true love is and how we can be a living example of God’s love for us.” P.B. (GRCC)