The Family Exchange is a three day two night retreat for International and local families to connect, have a vibrant cultural exchange, experience defining moments, engage in deep conversations, and start relationships that will continue for the duration of their time as a part of the Auburn community.
This world is not our home. In Christ we are sojourners/pilgrims/foreigners in the world. As such, we should love the physical sojourner/foreigner in our midst. This is a natural outflow of a life changed by the gospel, it is obedience to the Scriptures (Leviticus 19: 33-34,Exodus 23:9, Matthew 25:35, Romans 15:7, Hebrews 13:1-2), it is loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40), and it is simply following the “Golden Rule” in Matthew 7:12 of doing for others what we would want them to do for us if we were foreigners in another country.
On top of this, it is our call as believers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), and in Auburn, we have the unique blessing of the nations coming to us. Therefore we have the opportunity to declare to them the hope and abundance of life in Jesus, in hopes that they would place their trust in the Lord and share this Gospel among the nations, both while they are here and if they go back to their home!
The reasoning behind the name “The Exchange” is multi-faceted. On the surface it’s that we want this weekend to be a fun cultural exchange where internationals feel welcomed and they, as well as the local hosts, get to learn more about cultural similarities and differences.
As a cultural exchange, we want them to have fun experiences in our local cultural setting while also being able to share about their culture. We will discuss cultural differences and share ideas about the general needs of America and the world.
We want them to become good friends and exchange numbers to continue the relationship after the weekend.
But ultimately, we want anyone in attendance that is not a follower of Jesus to exchange the lie they’ve been believing (i.e. that things of this world will satisfy, that there is any other way to God than through Jesus) for the truth and life of Jesus. And in so doing we pray for a reversal of the exchange that Romans 1:25 describes that we have all made where we all exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served creation rather than the Creator.
When & Where
January 27-29, 2023 at Camp Marannook
We want to leverage that opportunity to connect them with local followers of Christ who love them, will genuinely befriend them, and walk alongside them in a variety of ways while continually being an ambassador for Christ. That being said, we must make it clear that the vision for this retreat is that it will always be about more than just the event (where relationships are made), because the focus is on the relationships continuing and strengthening after the retreat.
International families and local host families!
The Exchange will be open to international families, whether new to the area or families that have been here a while but would still love to connect with locals in vibrant relationships. These international families will be treated as guests in our home - nothing more, nothing less. They are not campers or projects. They are our neighbors. They are guests of honor at this retreat.
They will be hosted by local families, followers of Christ that are helping make the Exchange happen, these families are referred to as local hosts. The local hosts are not counselors or even leaders, they are not above the international participants in any way. They too are participants, partaking in and contributing to the Exchange. The difference in the participants is that the local hosts take on the joint responsibility of always “preparing the table” for the international families. The local hosts joyfully take on the role of serving the internationals by welcoming them well, making them feel loved and valued, and going out of their way to connect with and befriend them. Furthermore, we desire that our local hosts be composed of followers of Christ who are actively involved in a local church, and we desire to have multiple local churches represented at the Exchange through our local hosts.
What happens at The Exchange?
To summarize it in one word I’d say that everything that happens at an Exchange is all about - Relationships!
Meals are eaten together with ample time because we believe in the power of breaking bread together and how people can be more prone to open up to others over a meal with them.
Trivia typically happens the first night as a fun group competition to help people connect by working together towards a common goal.
Fun, defining moment activities that our international friends most likely have not done before. For instance, you could stay at a local summer camp to use facilities like archery or ropes courses that they have, or staying at a nearby state park and doing hikes or activities offered there, or in warm weather staying at a lake and taking them tubing and doing other fun lake activities.
We also like to orchestrate purposeful cultural exchange conversations to have in group settings in discussion groups that feel safe and are of similar numbers of local hosts and international students.