For many years our children have been given the opportunity to participate in a unique retreat called Vida Nueva. Vida Nueva (VN) is a three-day Christian retreat weekend and movement for youth, encouraging teenagers to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and to live as Christian leaders in their home, church and school. The young adults spend the weekend growing in a community, sharing their testimonies, strengthening social skills and making friendships that will last a lifetime.
The majority of children who live at Boys and Girls Country are 13-18 years old, and many of them choose to participate in a VN retreat. The weekend includes a series of talks given by clergy, youth and adults, all adhering to the basic themes of Christianity in its day-to-day application, and are followed by table discussions. The format is designed to help teens break down the barriers of fear and anxiety around peers, help them see their value through Christ and discover their potential to serve others.
BGC kids who have participated – many of whom have experienced trauma in the past – say it changed their lives. The transformation is not easy, however, because it requires trust, vulnerability and lots of prayers. Given that most of our kids come from unstable environments, they hesitate to open up to others, especially their peers. Overcoming that first step proves to be a crucial moment for many of them.
Thankfully, their spiritual growth does not stop at the retreat. VN members and leaders hold weekly, in-depth bible studies for our children. Some of our kids also serve on VN committees, allowing them to grow as leaders, guide newcomers, reconnect with friends and contribute to the growth of their Christian community.
For Marvin, his first VN retreat was life-changing. He was inspired to be baptized and commit his life to Christ, and it helped him grow from a shy and disconnected teenager into a campus leader who participates in 4-H, the Leadership Council and Teen Court.
“I loved spending time with my peers there. At first, I did not understand how opening up to people could be beneficial. Then I realized that it gives me an opportunity to connect with others on the deeper level. It helped me build relationships with my cottage brothers at BGC and encourage them to participate in VN. I am forever grateful for this opportunity that helped me discover my passion for helping others,” shared Marvin.
Striving toward God is something all the children at Boys and Girls Country are encouraged to do. It helps them understand that God has given them the ability, and responsibility, to change the lives of people around them at school and in the community.