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March 31, 2022

Christian Union's Multi-Site Events Continue to Grow 

By Dr. Chuck Hetzler

The total immersion in each portion of scripture reading, prayer, and fellowship made the experience incredible. It was amazing. The way I was able to meet with God and connect to others has broken some chains off of my heart!! The experience was invaluable. - CU Fire attendee, NYC

Spiritual retreats hold a long-standing place of pride for God’s people. In the Old Testament, all Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem three times per year for spiritual retreats, known as feasts or festivals. Two of these retreats each lasted a week long. Women and children often went along with Jewish males for these festivals of worship and renewal. In the New Testament we read of the church taking several days at a time to seek God in worship, prayer, fasting, and devotion to the word of God. 

However, in Western Christianity today, spiritual retreats are only common in youth and collegiate ministry, but not so among most adults. Christian Union (CU) upholds the biblical principles that Christian retreats are powerful and necessary for all believers, including adults, to be strong in the Lord. Enter CU Fire.

1 A small group fireCU Fires started informally in the living room of Matt Bennett, Founder and CEO of Christian Union. Bennett wanted to provide a local spiritual retreat for CU New York friends, so he would occasionally host days of seeking God and spiritual strengthening. Sometimes these local retreats were Friday night after work and all day Saturday or sometimes Thursday evening after work, all day Friday, and all day Saturday.

The effects of COVID shutdowns made Zoom a household name and working remotely commonplace. This new virtual space led to CU Fires multiplying nationwide. They no longer need be confined to one living room in Manhattan, but could spread across the nation to any living room with a wifi connection and a group of people hungry to pursue God.  

In January 27-29, 2022, the first two-and-a-half day CU Fire took place, making it the second multi-site event following CU Fire’s national debut. Two-and-a-half day versions of these retreats require that most people take a day off of work, but the spiritual impact is greater due to more time drawing close to God. Eight groups from various locations, with New York City heavily represented, joined together to seek the Lord to pray, read large portions of Scripture, hear biblical, challenging messages, fast during the daytime hours on Saturday, and fellowship together with like-minded Christians. 

The testimonies from January 2022’s CU Fire participants did not disappoint:  

If this was on a scale from 1-10, CU Fire definitely gets a 10 on all of the above! I will be “unpacking” everything for quite some time. The Lord has given a great deal of clarity for direction in ministry through this fast/retreat!! So thankful!!” - CU Fire attendee, Missouri 

I’ve gained a certain spiritual tool each time I’ve been to CU Fire. Over time, with nurturing, the tools are shifting the direction of my spiritual life. I especially loved the fellowship and the way our small group was able to bond so quickly and take on each other’s burdens. - CU Fire attendee, NYC

Truly so thankful for this weekend. It was life changing. I’m not kidding. I feel like I have access to God in a way I didn’t know how to access before. - CU Fire attendee, NYC

The retreat was the refreshment that I needed! Jesus was very present with us all weekend and in the intercessory times leading up to the retreat! I am encouraged, in tune with the Spirit, and blessed by all the teaching and deep fellowship. God has met me afresh, visited closely, and renewed my zeal. - CU Fire attendee, NYC

I feel revitalized and fed because of being with other Christians. I have gratitude and expectation for how God will use this time in my life.  I came into this time parched. I know this was a time of replenishment.” – CU Fire attendee, NYC

“This was absolutely amazing. I loved praying with my group, the Bible study, and the conversations. I have grown deeper in my faith and understanding of God”  - CU Fire attendee, NJ

“I don’t know what to be most excited about because it’s all amazing. My husband said he feels like I am different since this weekend, and he can tell. Today over lunch, I told him about the weekend and the deliverance prayer. He was so happy for me and for us. - CU Fire attendee, NYC

“It stirred me to really want to seek the Lord, both for personal renewal and for national  revival.” - CU Fire attendee, KS

Praise God that His timeless principle is operative today: Christian retreats are a dynamic means of grace to keep His people’s first love white hot. 

Two more one-and-a-half day CU Fires are already scheduled for 2022, April 1-2 and October 14-15, with future expansion looking bright in the years ahead.

Find out more about CU Fire at CUFire.org.

Dr. Chuck Hetzler is the executive director of Christian Union Day and Night, a ministry that promotes spiritual strengthening in Christians across America, helping them thrive in order to make an impact in an increasingly secular culture by covenanting together for successive spiritual initiatives.

RELATED: Want to go deeper in your faith? Click here to receive a free download of Christian Union’s "Seeking God Lifestyle” Bible Course Manual.