Here is Dana Auman’s testimony about the power of the New Day retreat!
On some days it seems like God is so close to us that we could stretch out our hands and touch God. Sometimes in long stretches of our faith journey we can’t feel God’s presence or God’s guidance and we feel alone and lost.
Wherever one happens to be in one’s faith journey, the New Day Retreat is an opportunity to explore in an intimate setting one’s relationship with God, seek out guidance from fellow Christian leaders on how to feel more connected with God and, with God’s grace, come away feeling a new connection not felt before – or, for some, not felt in a long time.
I grew up in the church, was saved and baptized at age nine and, from the time I was a teenager, have been involved in some form of church leadership. I have served as a junior deacon, deacon, and elder. Currently, I am serving my second term as Elder Chairperson at the Christian Church of Arlington Heights, Arlington Heights, Illinois.
I have been very active in community service – living out acts of my faith – especially with working with the homeless and going on multiple mission trips to Jamaica to work with our Disciples of Christ partners in that country. I also explored a sense of call to serve in full-time ministry by attending Christian Theological Seminary in the mid-1990’s.
Throughout my youth and young adult years I felt very connected to God, believing that I was experiencing a deep, personal relationship. The things I did in and for the church were based on my joy and appreciation for that relationship.
In the late 1990’s, as a result of a “crisis of faith” (the details of which are too long to explain here), I stopped feeling connected to God. As a result of these experiences, I felt betrayed by God. I stopped feeling any type of personal relationship. Later, when I came to terms with my experiences and tried to engage in a relationship with God, I still felt nothing in return. I felt alone and lost. This continued for twenty years…when I “stretched out my hands” to God I felt nothing in return.
I continued to be active in church, but, secretly, felt no relationship with God.
Finally, at some point two years ago, I started to feel God’s presence again. I am still trying to identify and define in words when and how that started. All I can say for now is that after twenty years of feeling alone and lost, I began to feel God’s presence again. I began to experience fresh joy and appreciation for life based on the return of a sense of relationship with God.
Afraid to tell my story to the members of my congregation or my pastor for fear of I am not sure what (disapproval? disappointment? rejection?), I kept this all to myself.
In 2017, I attended the New Day Retreat. For me it was a “mountain top experience.” I was able to get away from my daily routine. I was able to explore – both in a group setting and during time alone – my sense of a renewed relationship with God. I was able to listen to the faith stories of other church leaders and gain insights from their stories. I was able to share in a safe setting my faith journey and have other individuals listen and care.
Ultimately, I came away feeling spiritually rejuvenated, emboldened to share my story as a testimony to other Christians and excited about serving as a lay leader for my congregation.