On Monday, May 21, Saddleback Church hosted 80 Marines at the Retreat Center at Rancho Capistrano. This retreat was organized the Marines’ battalion chaplain, E.C.H.O. (Everyone Comes Home Outreach), and Saddleback Church.
The Marines, based out of Camp Pendleton, arrived at the beautiful retreat center on Monday morning. They gathered in the Worship Center building, ready for a day of training much different from what they receive on base. Some were looking for spiritual renewal, others just looking to get a day off from base work. But as Jamin Goggin, Pastor of Retreats and Personal Renewal, led the men through the retreat study, Living a Surrendered Life, each man was impacted in powerful and even unexpected ways.
“These guys, being Marines, they hear the language of a ‘surrendered life’ in a completely different way than the rest of us. Their lives are all about pulling from inner strength, about pushing through pain, about being strong. And in Surrendered Life, we look at our wounds, wishes, worries, and wrongs, and what it looks like to surrender each of those things. As we went through the study, I asked them what it would look like in their lives to live in this way.”
The retreat included a time of study, a time of personal reflection, and a time of sharing as a group. The Marines, most of whom were between the ages of 18-21, began to open up and change as God worked in their hearts.
“One guy said he was there just so get could get the day off. He had grown up in a church, but wasn’t currently walking with God. But at the end of the day he said, ‘God grabbed my heart today. How do I get back to being right with God.’” It was this story and others that let Jamin, E.C.H.O. and Saddleback know that the retreat met some very real needs in the lives of the Marines; the need for a connection to God, and connection to community.
The Marines were encouraged to not only join a small group that their chaplain is starting, but to also visit the Saddleback San Clemente campus, which is located just miles from Camp Pendleton and has a thriving Military Outreach ministry.
After the retreat, the Marines enjoyed a time of Ultimate Frisbee, tackle football, and a BBQ, all hosted by E.C.H.O., a ministry that provides community and support for Marines.
As we pause tomorrow, Memorial Day, to remember the men and women who have given their lives in military service, take a moment to pray for the Marines and military families who give so much to fight for our freedom.