More than 100 YOKE leaders from all 26 schools came to our annual Leadership Retreat to experience worship and community, and to learn from other leaders and each other. Many of our leaders were encouraged and challenged, and everyone left ready to start a new semester of YOKE at their schools. Mandi Meek, leader of our team at Powell Middle (far right, with her team) shares what the weekend meant to her. 

This weekend I went to the leadership retreat with YOKE. It “just so happened” to be at Carson Springs, where my mom volunteered just a few years ago as a young woman. It was neat to experience just a little bit of, what I’m sure, was a sweet time for her. 
I learned how God pursues us. I found rest. I laughed. I cried. I wept. I sobbed. I grieved.
I learned about my identity in Christ. I learned about spiritual warfare. I learned truths about God. I was given resources to draw me into the battle and words to speak against Satan. 
I learned about forgiveness. I found freedom in forgiveness. Past sins and events from my life are no longer holding onto me. I have freedom and no condemnation, because I am a new creation in Christ. 
I was extended grace by my roommates for my morning shenanigans. I laughed. Hard. I learned I have fish lips when I sleep (thanks Kristin). I learned about my team. I heard their stories of hardships, choices, romances and all the while, mixed in with the stories, I saw the pursuit of Christ in their lives. 
I saw the Gospel lived out. People were opening up to their weaknesses and hurts, and grace was extended. Not judgement. Hugs from strangers. New friendships were formed. 
I also played my favorite game, Jungle Speed. Funny enough, in the midst of grabbing a totem out of Eli Cockrum’s hand, I again saw the gospel. As we screamed with excitement, joy, confusion, and hilarity, people came by. They looked at us with curiosity and came to see what we were doing. A few of those people joined in the game and were soon filled with their own joy and smiles. That’s the gospel. During the game, I got nailed with some fingernails. They left a mark. It stung. It hurt. But the game was still worth it. It was worth a little bit of pain, for an afternoon of fun. It bonded us together, our “battle scars.” That’s the gospel. It’s not always easy. Life can leave some marks. But God is good. The gospel is true and life with Christ is absolutely worth it. 
I’m so thankful for this weekend. I was running on below empty Friday, and I came home with a full tank and a full heart. Thank you YOKE for taking time to intentionally pursue your leaders. To pour into us. To draw us into hard places, knowing that Christ is there to stand in the gap when we can’t. Thank you for loving us well. Thank you for feeding us well. Thank you for offering a place of rest, physically and emotionally. 
I’m so blessed to be part of this organization. To God be the glory, great things HE has done!