Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Eastern Student Retreat

Our Eastern and Western Student Retreats are happening this month. With that in mind, we thought we'd share some of our student reflections from last year's retreats. To learn more about the retreat and to register, visit our website or contact Shannon Friesen.

Xinyuan Hong (Camilla) – 2nd year medical student at McGill University
After a car ride of popcorn chicken, cookies, and memorizing verses from James 5 and the side effects of spironolactone, our McGill delegation finally found itself at the end of our 3-hour drive to Camp IAWAH. God has been abundant in His blessings to our CMDS Canada student chapter. Even within the first couple of months, He has built and guided a weekly prayer group, a supportive community for our walk with Christ. Coming to the retreat, I was most excited to get to know the larger CMDS Canada family. In the couple of hours left of the day, it was already clear that God was present and working in our interactions and conversations. From getting to know the girls while brushing our teeth, to midnight conversations with doctors and dentists, these relationships will surely last throughout our studies and into our practice.
Even though the retreat did not specifically address topics of calling or doing God’s work, when I was coming back from the retreat, I felt a great deal of renewed inspiration. The past month in school had been a bit of a lull because I was not particularly excited over nephrology. Curiously, after the retreat I felt much more motivated in the block and paid attention to giving glory to God in my work. This must have come from being in the midst of God-fearing, God-loving students and physicians, and I thank God for working through community to lead us to be Christ-centered in our studies.
While the retreat was a break from renal physiology, we had an equally edifying morning session discussing the intersection of secular philosophy and Christian thought. On a spectrum of values including peace, justice, reciprocity, service, and love, it appears that the conclusions that a multitude of great thinkers over centuries such as Plato and Pyrrho had come to are strikingly similar to Christian teachings. When I first came to faith three years prior, I experienced a lot of spiritual growth through my church and fellowships. In contrast, the communities I had within my campus and my family remained exceedingly secular. At times, it seems that the two worlds did not go together. While I had assumed science to be largely secular, I later learned that the majority of the founders of modern science, including Boyle and Newton, functioned on a Christian base -- they operated on a belief that God is creator and lawgiver who implanted laws in creation than man can discover. Similarly, it was enlightening to learn over the weekend that even “secular” philosophy points towards God. It was a reminder that our rational minds too are God’s creation and a reminder that faith transcends every area of life.

The weekend was not short of rest and enjoying each other’s company. We went on nature walks, we put together a worship session in just hours, we had deep conversations, we fell on the ice together playing Broomball, we taught each other new card games, and we relished in tubing under the stars. While I wished the retreat would last forever, our prayer time for our local CMDS Canada student chapters on the final day reminded us that God has placed us where we are for His Kingdom, and that we are called to be a light to our campuses. This gave me more courage to intentionally reach out to classmates. Thankfully, God has provided brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage each other in this. The value of our CMDS Canada community was once again apparent, when one of the residents shared how CMDS Canada members across the country look out for each other during residency match interviews. This is a community that I want to see and help grow. In giving clarity and direction in my work and having rest in Christ and, the retreat was definitely needed. Already, I can't wait for the next one. 

This year's retreat will be held from January 27-29, 2017. For more information visit our website

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