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Men will 'get real' at Christian retreat April 4

Summit to Summit Men’s Ministry will host their annual Columbia Gorge Men’s Retreat starting Friday evening, April 4 and continuing through the weekend at Young Life’s Washington Family Ranch in southern Wasco County.

The group meets each year in an effort to “allow God to lead us in our three primary goals of unity, accountability and leadership,” according to literature about the program.

The theme this year is “Who am I?” based on Moses’ question to God in Exodus 3-11: “Who am I? What makes you think that I could ever go and lead?”

“With a lot of Christian men, they struggle with being leaders in their family and in the church and in the community,” said Bill Nagreen, director of the nondenominational retreat.

He said sometimes men struggle with what being a man means in today’s society.

“Not to be confused with a dominating, ‘I am the boss,’ attitude,” Nagreen said. “Being what men are supposed to be. We’re supposed to be protectors, to love our wives more than ourselves and to lead our families.”

Part of the goal is to have fun together and bond, so the men at the retreat take full advantage of the ranch’s extensive facilities.

“All afternoon is free time, where they use the zip lines, they use a swing called a screamer that’s about 40 feet up in the air … they have canyon cars that are kind of a souped-up go-kart track. It’s just a blast.” They also play three-on-three basketball, have a nine-ball pool tournament, and a cribbage tournament for those who like a little more relaxed pace.

The men gather together in the evening for what Nagreen calls “man church. The speakers can get much more radical. They speak to men’s issues. No punches are pulled. We had a meeting last Monday and reminded the two speakers that this isn’t like church service, don’t pull your punches. Don’t bore us with a 40-minute lecture.”

Among the issues the men will be addressing are sexual purity, Nagreen said.

“Some men struggle with that,” he said. “There’s an epidemic of men addicted to Internet porn.”

Initially the group, which plans the retreats by consensus, decided boys should not be involved in the retreat.

“We wanted the guys to feel open and free to talk without the boys,” Nagreen said. “But my take is that our boys need to hear about real life and how men are dealing with things, rather than keeping secrets. By the time they get into middle school, boys are so inundated with this highly charges sexual society — it’s supercharged as far as sex. Our boys need to hear men talk about how we can address those things.”

So boys are now allowed to attend the retreat.

“I know so many guys who have gotten a kick start at camp to practice sexual purity, when they’ve struggled all their adult life.”

Nagreen was quick to say that retreat planners aren’t trying to imply that churches themselves aren’t doing the job.

“But this is a time for guys to get away and to deal with things head-on.”

He emphasized that what happens during the event stays with the group.

After a busy day and evening of activities and sessions, the day ends with some small group time with the men in their shared cabins.

“There’s a lot of confessing, a lot of prayer, and follow-up after camp,” Nagreen said. “The guys have a relationship with guys they can trust. The accountability is so much greater. The main theme of the retreat, from the beginning, has been unity in the body of Christ.”

It’s too late for advanced registration for the program, but men can register at the camp between 5 and 7:30 p.m.

Nagreen urged people considering the retreat to call one of three people before hand to get information, costs and directions, if needed: Nagreen, 541-806-0642; Mark Brown, 541-806-2386; and Darrell France, 541-993-4550.

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