Passing the Baton
by Larry Magnuson
The time has come to pass the baton! In October 2002 I was asked to become the CEO of SonScape Retreats. For the past 141/2 years, it has been my great privilege to serve as CEO and then President of an incredible ministry where week after week God changes lives, marriages, and ministries. Now the time has come for that joy and responsibility of leadership to be passed to another.
I have been in conversation with the board about this change for almost two years but my recent attack of NMO (Neuromyelitis Optica) after six years of remission sped up the decision. Barbara and I will continue to be a part of the SonScape team. We are simply trading in leadership responsibilities to do more of what we love most which is leading retreats.
As I think back over the past years, I am overwhelmed by the amazing things I have seen God do in this ministry and in the lives of the Christian leaders we serve. Certainly there are things I wish I had done better or to which I had given greater attention. Yet as God does so often, he used an imperfect leader to accomplish His work and to bring help to those in need.
Here are just a few of the highlights of the past 14+ years:
a ministry God has grown by almost 500%…
When Barbara and I arrived, Bob and Sandy Sewell were leading approximately ten retreats a year ministering to 35 couples/singles annually. Today, SonScape retreats are held in Colorado, Tennessee, and New York ministering to 125 couples/singles each year. And that does not include retreats held internationally in Colombia and Argentina; and in Canada where we partner with Focus on the Family and their Kerith Creek retreat ministry. In all, almost 200 couples and/or singles experience a life changing week each year.
the remarkable people that serve the Lord across the country and around the world…
There simply are not words to describe the beautiful, gifted, passionate people who sit with us week after week in our retreats. It is our privilege to offer them a ‘cup of cold water’ and a safe place where they can find the healing and encouragement they need to continue their critical work. But it is not just our alumni who are amazing, it is our ministry partners as well. People who host retreats, cook food, give their time at work weeks, give generously, and perhaps most importantly, pray faithfully. We count it a great privilege to have served, and serve with, some of the greatest people on earth!
the birth of 2.0 Retreats and SonScape Retreats International…
In 2015 we launched both the 2.0 retreats in Colorado under the direction of Greg and Connie Kennedy and SonScape Retreats International under the leadership of Rob and Shini Abraham. After three years, the 2.0 retreats are receiving rave reviews. Not only have international retreats been held in Colombia and Argentina but this year two couples in Colombia (Félix and Yury Méndez and Hernán and Mariela Arango) will begin leading retreats for pastors and missionaries in Spanish. Rob and Shini have been invited to hold retreats in numerous other countries. This may well become the fastest growing arm of the ministry of SonScape Retreats.
10 other ministries birthed during a SonScape retreat or where SonScape played a significant part in their development…
Retreat ministries in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Thailand, and South America ministering to couples, pastors, missionaries, and pastors’ wives were directly impacted by a SonScape retreat. Two ministries working with those who have experienced dramatic and painful loss found their beginnings at SonScape. An amazing bed and breakfast in Lake City, Colorado came through a life-changing retreat years ago. The reach of SonScape extends far and wide.
the ‘God moments’ that have been so much a part of the history of SonScape Retreats…
The property in Colorado where our retreat center now sits came at a critical moment in SonScape’s history along with the funds to purchase it in cash. Standing with a couple on a mountain in New York dreaming of a home large enough to hold retreats and then leading a retreat last year in that home on that mountain. A check for $200,000 that came seemingly ‘out of nowhere’ on December 31, 2010 – the year where we desperately needed $200,000. The gift of the Whitestone Country Inn and 500 acres of land in Tennessee through the generosity of the Green Family of Hobby Lobby opening the door for an East Coast retreat center. A church in Hong Kong scholarshipping missionaries working in Asia making it possible for them to attend a SonScape retreat. And these are only a few of the many ‘God moments’ that we have experienced across the years. What a great God we serve!
I have had the joy to work alongside some incredible co-workers who have sacrificed much to give themselves to the work of God called SonScape Retreats. Some have worked in the forefront leading retreats and speaking at conferences, while other work behind the scenes – all played a crucial role in this vital ministry.
I thank God and I thank you for the privilege of serving in this leadership role. The last 14 years have been a wonderful, amazing, remarkable ride. Now it is time to pass the baton.
A New Season
by Rob Lauer
Larry’s friendship of almost 12 years has been a significant blessing throughout my journey; someone with whom I’ve shared my life story, discussed the events of painful seasons and simply hung out at Starbucks. He is gifted with presence . . . the ability to actively listen, without judgment, while drawing out my thoughts and feelings. Those of us who call Larry our friend are blessed . . . and we know it.
Nine years ago Larry asked me to join the board of SonScape Retreats. He recognized how much I love pastors and believe in the transformation that occurs when pastors and missionaries attend a retreat. He knew that 20 years ago my life and marriage was impacted as a result of attending Marble Retreat, the retreat center that birthed SonScape.
Larry and I are walking a new journey together . . . one that neither of us anticipated . . . the deliberate handing off of leadership at SonScape. The overwhelming responsibilities seem less daunting because of Larry’s patient mentoring and commitment to a seamless transition. If you know Larry, you know he would have it no other way.
I am excited and honored to be selected as the Acting President and CEO by the Board. It is a privilege to work alongside the gifted team at SonScape. My prayers and objectives are focused on building upon the solid foundation, vision, and dreams of Bob Sewell and Larry Magnuson to serve pastors and missionaries and provide them with a retreat experience that transforms their lives and, as a result, the thousands of lives ministered to around the world.
Although the ministry may undergo minor adjustments in the future, one thing will never change . . . our mission. Developing healthy, vital Christian leaders through retreats focused on inner life, marriage, and intimacy with Jesus.
Exciting things are happening with SonScape Retreats International under the leadership of Rob and Shini Abraham. Last month Rob and Shini trained two couples who will soon begin to lead retreats in Spanish in South America. Rob and Shini have been working with these couples for the last three years and they have completed their training in the MBTI. Our hope is that they will lead retreats part time in a number of Spanish-speaking countries throughout South and Central America.
It is our privilege to introduce them to you . . .
Félix and Yury Méndez (Cuba and Colombia) are directors of YWAM base in Pereira, Colombia. They have discipled 100+ people and have sent over 20 missionary teams to 9 nations since 2011. They bring a wealth of ministry and cross-cultural experience to our retreats in Colombia and beyond.
Their blended ministry calling is two-fold: to restore young people to find their purpose in God and to develop emerging leaders to model Jesus in their families and spheres of society. At a SonScape retreat, they experienced freedom in fully embracing who God created them to be and committed to celebrating their differences and strengths. They learned healthy ways to deal with losses and betrayals so they can multiply health in those they are called to shepherd. They deeply desire to enable pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders in the Spanish-speaking world to have such times of purposeful rest, renewal, and transformation through a SonScape retreat.
Félix is a graduate of International Journalism of the State Institute of International Relations in Moscow. Yury has completed counseling and leadership training and is gifted in administration.
Hernán and Mariela Arango (Colombia) serve as senior pastors at Fountain of Life Church in Medellin, Colombia. They bring 17 years of ministry experience as they serve as facilitators in our Spanish retreats.
They attended a SonScape retreat in 2015 when stress and burdens of ministry had brought them to the point of burnout. They accepted God’s invitation into Sabbath rest and experienced firsthand the deep transformation that happens during our retreats. They always had a passion to serve pastors and missionaries so when they were invited to be on SonScape’s Latin American team, it was a natural step in the direction God had already been showing them.
Hernán has a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Sciences and is finishing his studies of theology. Mariela is a psychologist in the Luis Amigó University Foundation.
A.J. and Dana Rinaldi
SonScape Retreats provides relevant, insightful, and effective training and counseling, the likes of which are often overlooked or ignored altogether by leaders in vocational and lay ministries. It has been life changing. We can’t think of any other place that does soul care for those in ministry like SonScape. It is challenging, intimate, refreshing, and led with such love and care. We believe everyone in ministry should attend a core retreat and then come back for a 2.0.
Randy and Robin Marshall
Modern ministry is hard, even under the best circumstances. The often unseen yet undeniable stresses had us beaten down and we were hurting. Our first SonScape retreat in 2008 was really special. Then we came back to a SonScape 2.0 retreat. God spoke life and encouragement back into our souls. Our leaders reminded us of who and whose we are, helped us celebrate the love and call on our lives, and simply poured into us all they could. It changed everything!
Our 2017 retreats are filling fast . . . over 30% filled already!
Don’t miss out . . . register today!
Rob and Shini Abraham
Associate Retreat Leaders
Bob and Jeanne Blahnik
Associate Retreat Leaders
Director of Operations
Administrative Support | Designer