The first Sonlight Ministries Marriage and Family Conference was a great success. It was held on Memorial weekend at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. Brethren from seven different States attended.
This conference was a first for many reasons. It was the first time that Sonlight Ministries has held a conference specifically to focus on marriage and families. It was also the first time that held a conference at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. It was also the first time that we had bro. Craig Caster from Family Discipleship Ministries as a main speaker. These were all FIRSTS, and we look forward to many more.
There is a such a great need today for ministry to marriages and families. Due to time in which we live it is imperative for us strengthen families; and this was an excellent start in that direction.
The Ridgecrest Conference Center was a blessing and is an incredible location for conferences. Not only were the accommodations and food great, but the whole atmosphere and surrounding, nestled in the mountains a wonderful place to seek the Lord together. This camp started one hundred and ten years ago. It was a place set aside for Christians to come for rest and fellowship.
Although there was a focus on young families, the conference was beneficial and applicable to everyone at any age. Even though there were many older “empty nesters” and grandparents, there were many things said that spoke to us, and that we could apply in our marriages as well. It was also a blessing for parents with children to have to their children ministered to separately during the teaching sessions.
We found brother Craig Caster to be a wonderful man of God that has a real heart for married couples and for parenting. His teaching ministry is very sound Biblical teachings. God has given him much wisdom and insight on how to place “divine order” in the home. We all want divine order in our lives, and the word of the Kingdom that we stand for requires divine order. Yet we find some gaps and inconsistencies in our lives, our marriages, and our families. But we praise God that He is giving us the opportunity to set things in order. The teachings here provided some practical tools to help us do just that.
On Sunday morning we had a blessed time of worship before bro. Craig brought a word on forgiveness. We then had communion together and the Lord used it for much personal soul searching, repentance and healing individually and between married couples.
The schedule was nice too because it allowed more free time for recreation, enjoying our families, visiting with one another, and for rest; not to mention being wrapped in His beautiful creation all around us. The children had an absolute blast. It was an amazing time together. We hope to continue to build upon this in the future.
If you are interested in finding out more about bro. Craig’s ministry, or about future marriage and family conferences that we may sponsor, please let us know.
Bro. Gary Sonmore
Press this link to see the RETREAT PHOTOS.
Here are some of the testimonies from those that attended:
This was an amazing family retreat! Our whole family was beyond blessed! The kids had so much fun playing and making new friends in a beautiful location in Smokey Mountains. Tim and I attended the seminar about marriage and parenting and feel like our vision is not only recharged, but improved! Our speaker, Craig Caster, was a humble, wise and funny man. He encouraged us to evaluate and study how to live out our roles of husband and wife and parents with His purpose in mind and according to what God’s standard is in His Word once again. Hearing the practical advice and being able to talk to many brethren was also of great value. We want to thank again to everyone involved for all the hard work! Our family is changed for the better!
Adela and Tim Culvers
My wife and I were greatly encouraged by being here among these precious brethren and receiving what we heard. Craig Caster brought a much needed message of repentance, forgiveness, healing and resurrection for us and the body of Christ. He, through the Word of God brought new light to husband and wife relationships both natural and spiritual. The messages were concise and to the point. Divine order is not optional for a spiritual people who want to know the Lord. I am sure this is the first of many times we will visit these topics in the days to come.
We really enjoyed the Retreat. Marriage and Family are two topics we should give more attention to moving forward. One word for the conference Inspiring and when I was telling my son Elijah that the speaker said his children where his best friends he said “Dad, now that’s a great preacher!”
Praise Report: Sonlight Marriage and Family Seminar 2016
It’s 8:30 am in a room downstairs from the parents meeting room. It is decorated with beautiful balloons and a welcome sign, thank you Ms. Christine for making it so inviting. The silence bursts with the energy of the children entering the room… and the fun begins!
We are at a beautiful, tree filled campground in Black Mountain, NC, so Ms Renee Sigwarth thought it would be fitting for the kids to memorize Isaiah 61:3b “…that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” And memorize it they did. With the help of Luke Sigwarth, each child learned, and at the end of the day, said the verse perfectly. During craft, the children made a tree using a large pretzel rod as the trunk, pretzel sticks as branches and lots of green tissue paper for leaves, creativity abounded everywhere.
During our morning session, we sang praise songs, and played Bible Pictionary, led by Sarah-Beth. Thank you, Sarah-Beth. You did a fantastic job leading the way for a really great time. After meeting our parents for a delicious lunch in the dining hall (did I forget to mention it was all you cared to eat) we came back to the room for the afternoon session.
The group was divided into 4 teams, each with a peer leader. It was great to see the kids rise to the challenge of leading and working together. After having an interactive talk on the life of Moses, each team chose an event in Moses’s life and acted it out for the group. Everyone enjoyed watching the skits. Well done kids! Thank you, Mr. Russ for your supervision and encouragement.
Later, we went outdoors and played horseshoes, and relay races. The girls practiced ribbon twirling while the boys went for a hike.
Musical chairs, Simon Says and indoor tag were all a big hit. A big thank you goes out to Luke Sigwarth for doing an outstanding job of entertaining the kids in a safe and enjoyable way.
Our activities concluded at 4:30. We met our parents and enjoyed dinner together. There was so much good food to eat and plenty of dessert, it’s a good thing everyone saved room for eating smores at the camp fire that evening.
It was a pleasure to spend the day with all of the kids. The greatest gift was watching them interact with each other with genuine love and respect. They encouraged each other, shared, played and never left anyone behind, what a great lesson! Parents, you are blessed and so was I.
A great big thank you to Sonlight Ministries and Patrick and Christine Wilson for organizing and hosting this marriage and family retreat. Although I was not personally in the seminar sessions, since I was busy helping my wife care for the children of those attending, I heard glowing reports.
Here is a testimony that happened with the children which seems to describe the purpose of this retreat.
The first day, I took my grandchildren on a hike, it was a wonderful hike, 3 miles along a mountain stream, some small rocks to climb, beautiful waterfalls… the perfect hike setting. When others arrived they heard about this and wanted me to take them for a hike. So the next day Susan and I took 8 little ones and headed up the trail. It was much hotter than the day before and shortly into the hike I wondered if the person who told us this was a great hike for children had ever personally hiked this trail, it was steep and the scenery was boring one part of the trail was washed out that I had to stand on the edge as the kids side stepped across. I could see the kids getting tired and bored, Isabel, one of my grand kids, started complaining that this was nothing like yesterdays trail. Susan and I tried to encourage them to enjoy the path they were currently on, we explained that everyday is different and we should look for the good in each day, then it happened, Bubba started to melt down and wanted to go back the way we came. I quickly moved to his side and encouraged him, I assured him he could make it and it wasn’t much farther, although honestly I had no clue how much further we had to go, I had never been on this trail. He regained his composure and continued the hike, moments later we came to a clearing at first we thought we had arrived, but we were wrong. When Bubba realized we still had to keep going he again started showing signs of distress. I told him we would be at the top soon and help would be there, I then asked everyone to start calling out his name and tell him he could make it, there was a true spirit of encouragement going forth from one to another. I told the kids we should sing to the Lord, he would make a way. Suddenly I realized that the help I thought would be there was actually on the other side of the park, What would I do? As we were singing I looked up and saw the figure of a man in white with his hands lifted up, what am I seeing?? Then it became clear, it was brother Sonmore coming down the hill toward us. He was preparing to leave the overlook when he heard singing and wanted to investigate. Praise the Lord, he did make a way!
The highlights of this story are;
- not every day is the same, but we should be thankful because this is the day the Lord has made
- When we see a brother beginning to lose hope and wanting to turn back we should come along side as an encourager
- sometimes it takes more than one person to encourage, it takes a body
- We praise God in the good and not so good times, He is our provider, He will make a way.
- Angels are real, sometimes in the form of a brother.
As for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful mountain setting surrounded by so many christian brothers and sisters. The staff at Ridgecrest was phenomenal from giving directions and advice, making special deliveries to your room and even helping carry dinner trays for the little ones. Everyone was so eager to help and happy to do it. I honestly did not encounter a single person with a bad attitude during our entire stay.
The seminar was very well planned out, although the schedule was full, it was not over bearing. There was plenty of time for relaxing and fellowship with one another.
I believe we will be hosting similar retreats in the future I would encourage everyone to do their best to attend, it was truly a time of refreshing.