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KLI Retreat Offers Space for Young Leaders to Discern God’s Call

Posted: 6/5/19 at 7:00am. Article by Karin Goude.

The joyous shouts of young adults playing volleyball on the beach were no different from any other group just freed from school, but conversations were deeper among one particular cohort.

The Kairos Leadership Initiative (KLI) gathered in May at a beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a healthy mix of theological conversation, reflective group discussion, and of course a little recreational time in the sun. This retreat is the apex of every KLI program year, providing the most consecutive time together as a group as well as more content related to vocational discernment.

“I know now that the Lord’s calling on my life isn’t something that will pass me by, so long as I continue to trust him and listen to his voice.”

A fundamental component of KLI is to encourage students to use their many God-given gifts and skills in conjunction with their education and different contexts in order to live fully into the calling God has placed on their lives. Our program leaders always walk away feeling privileged to be a part of these important conversations in the lives of the KLI participants.

As this is the second retreat of the program year, leaders encourage students to continue building on the information from previous months. The Enneagram self-assessment tool was a part of our identity conversations from the January retreat that proved to be important to reflection and discernment.

Twyla Lee, a junior at Virginia Tech, shared how expanding and practicing what she has learned from the Enneagram has been both challenging and unique:

I was stretched by the different sessions, especially when we were challenged to practice contemplative disciplines pertaining to our Enneagram number. For me as a Type One, this was to rest in stillness, and it looked like taking time to just acknowledge God’s presence and his goodness, which is often hard for me amidst school and busyness of life. I was reminded of God’s sovereignty and can be assured that I can trust in his faithfulness even when life is not cookie-cutter or a straight line because I fear making the wrong decisions for my future career and life. Overall, this time was valuable to reflect on what God is calling me to: work diligently at what he has stewarded us to do, and also to continuously seek the Lord to reveal his plan for us for his ultimate glory.”

An exciting aspect of these retreats is to see the many different takeaways the students are processing. Each participant is being uniquely led by the Holy Spirit to different places of discernment and exploration. A freshly graduated Virginia Tech Hokie, Cheyenne Keys, has been in the thick of her own career discernment for the past year now and found an unexpected moment during the course of the week:

“Looking back on our second KLI Retreat, one main concept sticks out in my mind: uncertainty has no direct relation to God’s presence in your life. Thoughts and lies that my future was unclear because my relationship with God wasn’t strong enough had entered my head and my heart. During the panel with the KLI Action Team, the Lord convicted me of my desire to be in control of my future and showed me that I don’t have to discover my calling through this extraordinary sign from above. No, it can come quietly in the mundane, in the uncertainty, in the pursuit of him. I know now that the Lord’s calling on my life isn’t something that will pass me by, so long as I continue to trust him and listen to his voice.”

This year’s nine KLI participants expressed a variety of profound reflections from our time together in Kitty Hawk. Many have plans to use their summers on mission for the Kingdom, ranging from participating in language immersion programs overseas to serving with new local church plants in inner-city Boston. Their leadership in these places will benefit from the continued focus on the intersection of their unique gifts and the world’s deep needs.

Pray for these young adults as they reflect and implement what they’ve learned throughout the KLI program. Pray for their work over the summer in the many contexts where God has called them. Head to www.kairosinitiative.org to discover more about Kairos Initiative ministry opportunities.


Karin Goude is Program and Network Associate of the Kairos Initiative and is based in Richmond, VA.