By Nha Long
The LEC Headquarter Leadership Retreat initially started its first event in the summer of 2011. Consequently, the retreat held once every two years.
For this year’s Leadership Retreat, the Headquarter held it at Heavenly Hills Christian Camp for the third year. There were approximately 62 to 68 registered attendees. It had a great turnout.
“Well, I think it’s great for the leaders to come and get away from the stress of work and homes,” said the HQ secretary Paul Lo, the first Hmong Judge in the United States who is currently serving in the County of Merced, CA, “Sometimes even the church comes and to really bond with each other and to get closer to God, to learn new information, new ideas, get refreshed, refresh new energy, and get back to God’s work. I mean, that’s what the leadership retreat is about.”
The event did not kick off until Friday evening, but many church leaders began to arrive at the campsite early for check-in and lodge. A few church leaders rolled in on Saturday morning.
The Friday evening service began with praise & worship followed by welcoming remarks, overview of retreat agenda, the purpose of attending retreats, and goals from the Headquarter secretary Paul Lo. The most exciting and fun part was the introduction. Each attendee was required to introduce and reveal one mystery thing about himself/herself to everyone. It was interesting to know that many church leaders have multi-talented abilities.
In the cabins, there were 12 bunk beds to sleep with for the attendees. Inside of each cabin, a Pastor or Mrs. Pastor was assigned to oversee and lead the cabin mates in any need of prayer requests, devotions or Bible discussion.
Starting out on Saturday morning with a chilling temperature, approximately in the low 50’s, the group set off for an early devotion. The devotion included reading passages and praying for the individual needs.
Throughout the day, the morning session service began with an opening prayer by Reverend Kevin Mouanoutoua and singing hymns of praise which led by elder Neng Chue Mouanoutoua. Click to watch the videos below.
There were three guest speakers who were invited to teach at this event. The first two speakers in the morning were Pastor Bruce Logue, Life Spring Church, in Merced who taught about “Four Lessons I Learned by Planting a Church” and Pastor Bob Niemond, Making Disciples of All Nations, in Merced, who taught about “By Now You Should Be Teachers of Others.”
The afternoon speaker was Dr. Wa Chong Yang, New York Life. He is a financial planner and a fellow Hmong Christian with the C&MA church in Modesto. His presentation was about managing money God’s way, literally the importance of tithing/giving and blessing.
“Those speakers were really good, I enjoyed all three of them,” said elder Chong Ber Mouanoutoua, Vice-President for LEC of Fresno, “They had something specific that…ua rua yug raag txug…has tas…ok yea, kuv nov qaab txug qhov ko lawm los, kuv yuav tsum tau ua qhov ko hab nawb.”
Church leaders came to this leadership retreat not only to learn the new information and new ideas, but also having an opportunity for discussion and planning. The church leaders were divided into a smaller group. Each group consisted of seven or eight elders. All the pastors were in one group and all the women were in separate groups. They were required to provide the information back from the group deliberation to the Headquarter board for church improvement.
“I learned that the LEC is united and we helped out each other a lot,” said elder Tsaav Zeej Thao, President for LEC of Porterville, “But, in order for us to grow, we need more pastors and missionary work.”
Shortly after the dinner, church leaders gathered around the campfire in the evening to sing songs of praise together and give testimony.
The three days of leadership retreat had come to end on Sunday. The food was good. The messages were great. Everyone had a good fellowship time together. Overall, this year’s event was well organized by the Headquarter board members.
“We hope to provide the best information,” said Judge Paul Lo, “We try to present new speakers and new ideas so everyone can learn from…you know…learn new ideas from new people. So I hope those would be helpful.”
Click here for more photos.