"What can I say? My first time as an ARISE counselor last summer was probably the most AMAZING, AWESOME, LIFE-CHANGING experience I’ve had. Like a lot of Korean-Americans in New England, I grew up attending a Presbyterian Korean church and was super involved in church during my youth. However, after college I began to take my life into my own hands. I quickly turned to friends, going out, boys, parties and traveling instead of God. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom about two years ago, I realized I needed God so desperately in my life again. As I was reconnecting with God and my faith last year, Sage asked me nonchalantly if I wanted to serve at a youth retreat this summer. Quickly, I knew I didn’t have time do it and quickly I felt like I wasn’t prepared enough—I felt not “Christian” enough to be a counselor, so I kindly said “maybe next time." But for some reason, being a counselor at this retreat stuck with me. I didn’t know what it was but I knew God was calling me to this retreat. As my sister also dedicated herself to being a counselor at ARISE, she also reassured me that I should apply, and so I did the night before the applications were due. ...
And so my application was accepted and with the grace of God, I became an ARISE counselor. Training was pretty tough but AWESOME. I really felt like God was calling me in so many ways and I finally was able to take a good look at myself and see how broken and how much I missed having God in my life. During training, I was able to re-learn the Gospel and what it truly meant. How Christ died for ME, FOR ME and ALL OF US, and all of our SINS and ALL the mistakes we’ve made. It hit me. God loved me so much that even though I messed up so much, He continued to pursue me. When you hear God telling you that He loves you and that you are a beautiful child of his… you know that you don’t have to be “Christian” enough, or “perfect” to be with Him.
At ARISE, I truly felt God moving in each and every one who was there. I was in charge of seven young ladies who were some of the older youth. God totally worked through me because at times I was afraid I wouldn't be able to speak to them about the gospel or incorporate the gospel in our one-on-one discussions. Although I knew I had a counselor background, I never had the opportunity to be a "Christian counselor"... so I was nervous. Let alone, since I've been away from God for so long, I felt like I didn't know the Bible enough to talk to my girls about it. Some how God worked through me and really gave me the ability to love these girls whole-heartedly, and have the girls love me back regardless of my little knowledge of certain parts of Scripture. I fell in love with the girls because they were so honest and shared such deep and hard things with me. These girls shared with me their struggle with boys, boyfriends, sex, going through depression, body image, family problems etc. It was amazing yet sad to hear these stories, but I knew God was with them no matter what.
After serving at ARISE I felt like my relationship with God was revived. As it says in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." I'm nearer to God than I have ever been. Although I stumble and fall, I know that because of Christ, I can come to Him even at these times. I feel that I am continuing to grow in my faith more and more and hope to serve again ARISE this summer."
- Tina Kim
"ARISE Youth Ministries has been an integral part of my life. From my first summer retreat in 2001 to becoming an ARISE counselor, I am grateful and privileged to have spent many years in attending and serving ARISE. It was during the summer of 2001 at its summer retreat where I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior. My other siblings also came to accept Christ during the times of these retreats. ARISE has been a place where I first experienced and was able to witness the universal body of Christians, unified to praise, worship, and grow spiritually. Additionally, I have developed the most intimate, loving, and memorable moments of my life during ARISE events. Most of my closest friends today are youth kids that I met at ARISE.
As I became eligible to become a counselor, I was eager to reciprocate the love I received from ARISE and the love I undeservedly received from God. Although a significant amount of time was devoted to preparation and devotionals, it was a joy and honor to do God's work. The bible verse that motivated throughout the training and the retreat was 1 Corinthians 5:58, "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." To see my students and many others come to know Christ, our hours of labor and service were worth persevering. Counselors of ARISE make direct impact on the youth and grant an ample amount of time and opportunities to share the Gospel with the youth."
- John Park
"Serving with ARISE has been such a huge blessing every summer. The summer retreat itself is amazing of course, but the training period has always been my favorite. The intentionality of our training sessions, intimate small groups where we can share our lives with those with the same passion for Christ, and great leaders who teach us how to foster a greater desire for God's kingdom and His people are few of the amazing reasons why anyone should serve as a counselor. Besides the cool staff shirts we get that is... 🙂 ARISE has also connected me with amazing friends that keep me accountable to living a Christ-centered life even after ARISE was over. So if you have a heart for the youth of New England and want to be encouraged by others who have the same passion, BE A COUNSELOR! 🙂 You won't regret it."
- Gloria Song
"For 5 days, I played, laughed, prayed, ate, and studied God's word with my small group ... As God challenged me to be more vulnerable to my students, our fellowship grew much deeper and genuine. By the end of the retreat, we were no longer counselor and students, but true brothers centered around Christ. The most amazing part was the accountability we had for each other. Even after the retreat, God continued to work in our small group as we had several reunions throughout the year. ARISE was not just 5 days, but an ongoing growth of relationships and blessings that will last me a lifetime!"
- David Kim
"I attended ARISE as a student throughout youth group and have served as an ASL and counselor since then. And there is a reason for coming back! No matter how many years I've been a part of ARISE, each time it's been a huge blessing, serving and getting to know the staff/counselors, and different girls in my group. Through ARISE, God has reminded and shown me how precious this ministry is and how He is alive in the hearts of students in New England, an area that has gone through a lot of church splits. Serving at ARISE has been such as blessing in my life and a huge part of my walk with God. Through the training and my role as a counselor, I am always reminded of how we are instruments of God's grace and love and what it means to be a servant of the Lord; not to be recognized by our works or praised but to love onto the students being faithful to the Gospel. We can't serve with the expectation or purpose of producing results because we don't have the power to change the hearts of the students. Instead, we are called to be faithful and to plant seeds knowing God has the power to melt hardened hearts and trusting in Him with the hearts of the students.
One of the greatest joys of serving at ARISE is the relationships you build with the staff and counselors. The friendships I've gained through ARISE are still some of the strongest I have today. The training and the retreat are opportunities for you to meet some amazing brothers and sisters, all with different stories and testimonies of how God has transformed their lives and who just really love the Lord and have hearts for the youth. It's truly a bonding experience how in a relatively short period of time you can laugh, cry, share, pray with, and fellowship with one another as one body. And the fellowship and friendships go beyond the time of retreat. Even if you serve once, it feels like you are a part of the ARISE family."
- Christine Paik
"Serving at ARISE was a huge blessing for me. I was especially thankful for the training sessions; it encouraged me deeply to see the devotion of the counselors and those in charge when it came to the training. The fact that Christian brothers and sisters cared so much for the youth really moved me, especially because of my great heart for the youth. I think the training sessions' most important outcome was that we came together as one body to pray and train so that we could effectively be sent out to be instruments of God's grace to these students in the New England area."
- Suejung Kim
"Before my first ARISE experience, I had no prior experiences with the youth or ARISE community. I also didn't know anyone except the person who invited me. For people who are thinking about serving with ARISE, don't be intimidated or afraid of being uncomfortable. It was amazing to train two weeks prior to the retreat. By the time we were done with training, I thought the retreat was already over because we already felt like a family. I was so blessed through the training and getting to know the other counselors. It was intimidating in the beginning as an outsider but being there with the same purpose and in the same family of Christ really helps break the barrier. Before ARISE, I was already thinking about going into full time ministry, but it was only an idea at the time. With the experiences and people I've talked too at ARISE, it helped solidify the passion in my heart to serve and see people come to Christ. It helped open my perspective to what ministry is and isn't."
- Chris Chin
"ARISE has a special place in a lot of our hearts. I am so thankful for how God has called people to lead and serve through ARISE because it helped me tangibly see what it means to love, disciple, and live a life a faith. ARISE has definitely planted many seeds for me, as an adolescent as well as a counselor.
Before serving with ARISE, I didn't know what to expect. I was just nervous about being responsible for a group of kids; however, the actual experience exceeded my expectations. More than anything, the training was so foundational to understanding who God is. I still remember the seminars from the training--some strong, revealing stuff. If there were moments when I didn't understand something then, the teaching was a seed that revealed much clarity some years later.
The training sessions were not only a blessing to my spiritual growth, but it also strengthened our fellowship as a team of leaders. I was also thankful to see other leaders in different walks of life sharing and wanting to live out the life of faith. I still have lasting friendships from ARISE.
The first year as counselor, I struggled because I did not want to fail as a counselor; however, when I returned the following year, I recognized God's sovereignty in the way He led my group. As a third-time counselor, I recognized how much God pruned and shaped me as His child... since I first accepted Christ as a teen at ARISE."
- Jennifer Lee
"While I'd been around youth groups before, I was apprehensive about jumping back into things as one of the older counselors - in some ways I felt rusty and in others life seemed to be chaotic as the summer approached. But spending time with other servants for youth was a great blessing, and I treasure the time we had during our training - the devotionals, the worship, and even the snacks. I remember one evening that while we were in training to know the gospel and to serve the youth, I was reminded how much Christ had done to serve and love us. I don't get much vacation time, but I don't regret experiencing the blessings of fellowship and community with other counselors as well as being powerfully reminded of how much God desires us all - youth or far removed from youth - to be near Him. And further, while I was there to serve the youth I felt that the training and retreat actually shaped me towards loving Jesus all the more as I returned to my workplace. If I look back at my own life, some of my most formative Christian relationships came while in youth group so I'm grateful to be able to serve youth now so that hopefully they may not only discover the joy of knowing Christ but look back years later and feel called to serve others, too."
- Young Paik
"To be honest, even though I attended ARISE as a student for several years, I had no idea what to expect as a counselor. This made me extremely nervous. I didn't realize how scared I was of little girls!! But God came to show me why I was so nervous through small group times with other counselors because I was not trusting Him. My actual experience revolved around this idea... That it was way beyond my puny self. Realizing that I alone couldn't change these kids helped me to step back and form a servant's perspective.
The bond created between the other counselors and staff has to be one of my favorite parts of ARISE. We get so close in such a short amount of time. The fellowship created is unlike any friendships I've made, purely because the relationships are centered around Christ. ARISE is a big family 🙂
ARISE has been a huge part of my spiritual growth since junior high. This retreat is where I accepted Christ, and it helped me to learn things that I still carry with me today. It was like my building blocks all through high school... And honestly I feel that I've learned even more as a counselor through training and leading small groups.
The friendships made through this ministry are so unique and deeply rooted. Serving and keeping each other accountable bonds us in a way that, let's say, makes us want to see each other EVERY day after the retreat!! :D"
- Leianne Kim
"I want to first acknowledge that God has blessed this area immensely with ARISE, who serve the youth of New England. As I got older as a student at ARISE, the more and more this retreat became an encounter with the living God. I am so appreciative of the countless counselors, brothers, and willing servants that served me as a youth kid. I realize that ARISE empowered and prepared me for my own pursuit of Christ in my life at my home church, my college campus or extracurricular activities.
So when I decided to serve with ARISE, it wasn't quite as I expected; it was more. God revealed to me that as much as we serve youth at this retreat, we ourselves are also being transformed into His likeness. At training, you feel as if you are running an intensive marathon as we grasp theology, as well as, how to apply that within our small groups, one-to-one times, and interactions with the youth at the retreat. The 2 weeks of praying and training builds a foundation, not only for the retreat, but for our lives. And as you head into the retreat, God gives you a heart of longing and love; a glimpse of how God loves and sees His children. We have the joy of celebrating and rejoicing in the message of the Gospel and empowering this generation of youth to live for so much more."
- Jason Paik