METTER, Ga. – The opportunity to fellowship and receive guidance in the name of the Lord is priceless. Just ask the attendees of First Baptist Church in Lake Wales’ annual Men’s Retreat.
The retreat takes place the first weekend in November, with more than a hundred men and boys attending the 2019 event. Jerry Brown, retired Lake Wales Fire Chief, generously provided family-owned land for the venue, complete with acreage and ponds.
“There are many pressures on men today to offer leadership at home, the workplace, their community and the church,” said First Lake Wales senior pastor Scott Markley. “We want to sharpen men to be the most effective leaders in those domains; to resource them, encourage them, inspire them and give them a casual setting where they can learn from other men.”
Markley said he enjoys watching the older generations share their knowledge and experience with younger generations. “The retreat is multigenerational in teaching and modeling; sometimes three generations in one family will attend together,” he explained.
In his 12 years of attending the yearly retreat, Markley has witnessed older generations pass along the baton of responsibilities to younger generation attendees and feels equally inspired by the camaraderie.
Retreat organizer Barry Hooten, minister of discipleship and administration of First Lake Wales, filled the event to the brim with multigenerational bonding experiences.
The men enjoyed games of paintball, 9 Square, football, puzzles and skeet shooting. Topping the agenda are Bible study, prayer, personal encouragement and guest speakers with relatable teachings.
Guest speakers during the past two years included Florida Baptist Convention staff members Billy Young, lead catalyst, Next Generation Ministries and Jeffery Singletary, catalyst for the central region. The leaders choose motivational and inspirational themes, reciting God’s word pertaining to the obligations young and adult men face in today’s setting.
Also on the program is Tom Syphrit, aka “Turkey Tom,” who introduces the boys and young men to his ever-tricky puzzles. Syphrit handmakes his puzzles out of metal and wood, crafting mindboggling challenges for eager minds to solve.
Each puzzle has its own unique solution where solvers must twist and turn nuts, chains, bolts and teeth, to loosen or reposition a ring or other object. Only after watching someone try their absolute hardest to solve one of his puzzles will Tom give away the secret.
Singletary said the event was “phenomenal. Men and boys enjoying the great outdoors as we worship the Lord.”