26: Special Events, Conferences, Retreats

IN THIS CHAPTER

OCF members plan and host many different gatherings for the benefit of the military community around them. There is no limit to the creativity involved in these gatherings, but each one requires an initiator, an organizer, and help from the larger fellowship to execute the gathering. These are usually exciting opportunities to meet the larger OCF body, to be encouraged in your walk, and to gain new vision for service.

LOCALLY ORGANIZED, HOME GROWN

Local events and retreats are opportunities to be encouraged spiritually, professionally, and relationally, and they are usually opportunities to cross paths with men and women from other branches of the military. OCF members attending special events around the world can join with others who are serving, who have served, and even some who will serve later, and military ministry events tend to form life-long bonds among participants. In some countries and regions, there are resources from children and youth parachurch ministries to provide programming for children, but in smaller areas, the adults and teenagers might take turns keeping younger ones busy, fed, and safe.

Our hope is that OCF leaders and volunteers who love to organize will be in the forefront of putting together outings for others. It is up to the local leaders to Pray-Discover-Obey their way through the process of deciding location, timing, fees, lodging, child programs, food, etc. One area hosted an annual multi-day Thanksgiving Conference organized by in-country volunteers. In other areas/regions there have been annual one-day picnics or ice cream socials for many years. 

These fun outings take time, energy, funds, and preparation, but they bless and refresh many people, even helping men and women stay in uniform after years of fatigue. Simple local retreats can be planned around a state or national park campground, so that organizers do not have to locate a hotel or conference center to meet in. Campfires and hikes are a go-to favorite for many ages, but not for all people. Some groups plan a service project around a mini-retreat environment by having a speaker in the evenings after serving in a community during the day. If the service project is for an organization that provides lodging and food, then you have a mini event well on the way toward success. Special gatherings will connect OCF leaders with peers, with more senior leaders, and with the entire military society. In other words, they allow us to join together in community and connect with people with whom we might not otherwise spend much time. 

HOME OFFICE HELP

The OCF Home Office can help with event and retreat planning by joining in prayer during the PDO, giving planning advice, helping you find other OCF members in the area so you can reach out to others more broadly, advertising the event in official OCF communications, and helping find speakers that will be right for the group. Please give us the opportunity to get excited with you about what you are doing! You are the experts in the field who know your military family—whether midshipmen, cadets, mid-career families, or retirees—and we want all of them to catch (or be reminded of) the importance of spending and being spent for the souls of others (2 Corinthians 12:15).