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Christian Union: The Magazine
November 3, 2022

October CU Fire Retreat Elicits Powerful Responses As Holy Spirit Moves in Power


By Chuck Hetzler

“This was my first CU Fire Retreat. It's hard to put into words what I experienced this weekend.  I have been challenged to examine my walk with the Lord, to address areas where I am not walking in obedience. With regard to revival, I have a better understanding as to what is required of us collectively and myself individually.  This is a new beginning for me. I don't think I will ever be the same again. The teachings were the most memorable part for me but our small group discussions and prayer times were also wonderful.”

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The spiritual impact of the October 14-15, 2022, CU Fire Retreat, captured by the above testimony was reiterated dozens of times by participants. 

“I cannot put into words what an amazing weekend with the presence of the Lord.”

“I will never be the same person again.”

“A renewed fire has been lit in me by the Spirit!”

“It was amazing! Thank you so much for having it! It contributed to the positive development of my spiritual journey and I’m so encouraged.”

“I feel empowered to return to obedience and live a life of seeking God and His presence all the time.”

“It was very impactful for me. It brought me to a new place of repentance and that freedom in relationship and submission to Jesus.”

Thirty-nine groups joined the simulcast retreat with a total of 260 attendees, more than doubling the last CU Fire Retreat. Attendees participated from twenty-nine states, spanning all kinds of denominational and demographic backgrounds, including students from CU Universities’ ministries. Christian Union New York led the locations with the most groups, rallying 12 sites for the retreat. 

Many of CU New York’s sites were filled by recent alumni from CUU ministries. The CU Fire Retreat provided a fantastic bridge between past university ministry involvement and their new professional lifestyle. The transition from college to career often stalls the spiritual growth of many, but CU Fire Retreats help fill a much-needed gap. One attendee who is a recent graduate explained: “Dedicating my weekend to CU Fire rejuvenates my desire to seek Christ in my day-to-day and helped me build strong fellowship with other young Christian professionals in the city.”

Speakers for this CU Fire Retreat included Christian Union Founder and CEO, Matt Bennett, Christian Union’s Vice President of Biblical Theology, Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Sentinel Group, George Otis, Jr., and Pastor and Director of Healing the Land Ministries International, Savenaca Nakauyaca from Fiji. Topics focused on repentance, obedience, and seeking God for community transformation. 

A few unique characteristics of CU Fire Retreats lead to the significant spiritual impact for most attendees. First is the amount of prayer and fasting that precedes each CU Fire Retreat. CU’s new 24-Hour Prayer Chain helped to accumulate 1,193 hours of prayer and 289 days of fasting. Intercessors prayed specifically for this retreat and often for each attendee by name, utilizing the CU 24-Hour Prayer Chain page.

Second, CU Fire Retreat’s spiritual impact is largely correlated to the amount of time attendees take to draw near to God. Attendees set aside Friday night, 6-9 pm, and all day Saturday, 7 am-8 pm for the retreat. Sometimes people are overwhelmed by the time commitment and decline an invitation to CU Fire Retreats because of the fear that they will lose out on a “restful weekend.” But for Christians, our rest is found in the Lord, as one attendee remarked about the retreat: “It was extremely restful. My fire for the Lord is definitely burning brighter.” 

Third, CU Fire Retreats feature at least one message on repentance. This retreat’s repentance message was delivered by Matt Bennett and had the intended effect on the audience. “I felt that Matt Bennett’s message on repentance was impactful, especially the time of prayer we had afterward,” said one attendee. Another reported, “It surprised me how much personal conviction I felt...I came expecting to pray and didn't realize how much repentance I was needing.  Good job, God!  And thanks for the initiative, CU... It was very helpful!”

Fourth, CU Fire Retreats include an often forgotten or ignored command to fast, that is, to abstain from food for a period of time in order to seek God. On Saturday, all attendees are encouraged to fast until dinner time, when groups share a meal together. Fasting can be difficult if a person is not used to it, but its spiritual power is undeniable, as one attendee experienced, “I​​’ve never fasted before and God spoke to me, so I was blown away.” 

Fifth and finally, seeking God in a small group adds to the quality of the retreat. Friends and family unite around the Lord, form deep bonds in Christ, and experience His presence together. Attendees said, “I got closer with my friends and was able to spend a lot of time praying over each other and our church!” And, “My faith was strengthened and my energy renewed. The times in prayer with friends were the most impactful for me.”

It’s not an overstatement to say that the October 14-15, 2022, CU Fire Retreat was life-changing for many. All glory goes to God alone, and many thanks to Christian Union associates who fasted and prayed, invited friends and family to host and participate, and coordinated attendees and programming for the retreat. Stories like the following make all the hard work worthwhile:

“I came to CU Fire retreat in a period of spiritual dryness, but I came away with practical ways to help seek the Lord. I think the parts about obedience and repentance were the most memorable and repeated in scripture time and in the teachings. I was fearful that God had completely left me before coming to CU Fire.  Now I have hope and will continue to seek Him and practice walking in obedience for God to revive me.”  

CU Fire Retreats take place quarterly, with the next one happening in the New Year, Friday, January 27 - Saturday, January 28, 2023.