The communal aspect of it was really refreshing and enlightening. I made genuine, life-long connections with students and leaders and I learned so much about spiritual community and living a healthy, grace-filled life.
My favorite part about Brethren Academy was hands down the community and Friday night when after worship we were all hanging out and one person started singing and before you knew it we all were standing arm in arm, singing and yelling praises to Jesus.” After an incredible two hours of praise, it turned to a healing service where “we were praying over people who were hurting. I had never felt more awaken by the power of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was flowing through that room and through those 50 people. I cannot wait to go back next year and see my family again.
I’ve never connected to so many people at once before and it was definitely an amazing experience, from singing our lungs out to crying in each other’s arms, every moment with those people was spectacular.
Being a mentor for Brethren Academy this year was such an incredible experience. Having been a student two years before, it was amazing to pass on what I had learned to other students. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I learned this year, despite not being a "student." The fresh approach to fundamental lessons that are taught each year made it possible for me, as someone who has been a part of Brethren Academy all three years, to still learn new aspects of those fundamental lessons, giving me a deeper understanding.
For me Brethren Academy was an eye-opening experience that I wish I could experience a thousand more times. I got to experience the amazing hearts of the people in Ashland while being in a new community. I gained so much wisdom on the Bible and how to be a Christian from our workshop speakers. Overall, after the experience, I would say I grew as a person, a Christian, and would highly recommend Brethren Academy to any young leader looking for guidance.
I felt a really beneficial aspect of Brethren Academy was the baking activity with Julianna when she talked about vocation and calling. I think that as high school students, finding a “calling” or a job that you want to do after you graduate can be difficult to figure out and we put so much pressure on what kind of job we want to have rather than how we can bring Gods kingdom to our community. From some of the earliest moments of our childhood people are asking us “what do you want to be when you grow up” and for high schoolers it’s difficult. But Julianna really helped me realize that calling isn’t just some far away future thing about what you are doing with the rest of your life, it’s what you can be doing now, bringing God to your community or to a group of people.
She “could tell students were interested in the topics we discussed and were very open to talking about their own experiences with those topics. Two of my three students were new and I could tell were nervous about being there, but by the end of the week both had commented and said they were excited to come back next year and I could see the spirit moving strongly in all of the students."
One of the many things that stood out to me from Brethren Academy is when one of our speakers said, 'Have a strong foundation in God, then go and bring others to him.' Something that I have always wanted is for people to see Christ in me. When he said that it helped me realize that's not just gonna happen. I have to work on me and who I am in God. I have to build a strong relationship and foundation in me and with Him before I can expect others to see Him in me. After Brethren Academy I definitely have a new understanding and confidence in my faith that I didn't have before. I met so many amazing people and made lots of new amazing friends and grew closer to some old ones. I can't wait to go back next year!
It’s made me feel more Brethren almost. Like, I’ve learned about who they were. I’ve learned about what our values are and how we came to be. It kind of makes me feel like I’m part of a family instead of just a church that I go to on Sundays. And my family has made a difference in the world. And I think it’s really cool to learn about.
I like the people here. I like being able to talk to people, and I like the sense of community it brings.
Our daughter had such an enriching experience at Brethren Academy from start to finish. She learned tons about the Brethren faith. An absolutely amazing group of leaders, teachers, peers surrounded her, encouraged her, stretched her and loved on her. As parents, we were thankful she was able to have an opportunity that had such an impact in her faith journey.
Brethren Academy was my first chance of being a small group leader which taught me a few things: what it is like to be a small group leader, what it is to be an influence on students, but also how to help students defend their faith and how to initiate conversations. I saw friendships being built from different churches around the nation (Florida, Canada, Virginia, to name a few).
It was awesome to see the students connect with each other on deep spiritual levels during the "Jesus-I-see-in-you" group time. The students took it very seriously and highly encouraged each other. A humbling experience was when the students said that I skipped myself and that they wanted to do it for me too, of which I thought was very humbling and loving.
I was able to make a few deeper connections with some of the students and even got to witness to a girl about the depths of Christ's love and what He wants of us. You can't ask for a better opportunity than to talk to students about Jesus. That is, after all, what being a Christian is all about! The students had the heart, the attitude, and the love for what was prepared for the week and they took it full force.
I didn't know what to expect going into Brethren Academy. It was sandwiched between two busy weeks of my summer and I was anticipating to get the job done, help where needed, and continue on my way. Little did I know that God had different plans for the week for both myself and the incredible students that I had the privilege of leading. The week was a breath of fresh air mixed with heart stirring conversation and rapid growth. The group of students were from all across the US (& Cananda, shout out to Kelsey and Aiden!) but came together so quickly in one short week. I couldn't help but survey the room and feel overwhelmed with joy because this is what the body of Christ looks like. I miss those students deeply but I am so encouraged by the work God is doing in and through them, and the ways He is leading them throughout their journeys.
You kind of live in a world where you think it’s just you. My youth group is small. My youth group is maybe insignificant. And then all of a sudden you meet all of these other people who are having almost the same feelings and experiences, but from all around the world.
My hope for my kids, or for any students that go through this program, is that they find out who they are in Christ, they find a way to tie that into what they go into for a living, and they walk away understanding their value in Jesus and that they have a role to play in His kingdom.