Willie Alfonso tells with great humor and humility his incredible journey from being homeless at the age of 11 on the streets of New York City to the experiences that come with being a Chaplain for the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Yankees. It is a story that goes from eating out of trash cans to leading Mariano Rivera in a weekly one-on-one Bible study in his home. Willie shares the key lessons he has learned along the way–including the importance of really trusting in God and not allowing his own understanding to limit him, as well as the importance of guarding his name and reputation.
James Anderson, the President of the New Canaan Society, shares the importance of telling our stories–transparently and authentically. He starts by telling the unpleasant but sacred story of how God brought him from empty “success” (from Hollywood to a wildly successful real estate career selling homes to celebrities) to fulfilling “significance” through Focus on the Family and now NCS. With great humility, Anderson talks about the seeds and depth of his fall and the tremendous grace (both from God and a loving wife) that lifted him back up. He also reflects on how sharing “our story” leads to friendship, friendship lead us to a “better story” and friendship with Jesus draws us into God’s “bigger story”.
Biggs Burke shares his incredible journey from poverty in Harlem, to the top of the music business, to prison and then to life as a follower of Jesus. With great transparency and humility, Biggs reflects on how his life was being derailed even as he thought he had it all under control. He also explains how he came to follow Jesus and get back on track through an unlikely prison friendship, the love shown to his family by NCS brudders and miraculous answers to prayer.
Greg Doll shares some key life lessons he learned from his father. These weren’t lessons drilled in through lectures–they were lessons absorbed by watching. They are lessons that Greg has been able to draw upon for his own life and lessons that have informed his mentoring, coaching and counseling of student-athletes, people going through life transitions and those Greg calls the “successful but miserable”–people who have tremendous worldly success but are empty inside. Greg’s seven lessons are:
(1) Give thanks at all times;
(2) Never give place to unforgiveness, resentment or bitterness;
(3) Believe in the power of Christ’s redemption;
(4) Live joyfully and keep your sense of humor;
(5) Serve unto God;
(6) Love unconditionally; and
(7) Have a healthy spiritual rhythm.
The 2015 New Canaan Society New England Regional Retreat was held November 20-21 at the Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club in Lenox, MA. The theme was “Freedom Changes Everything”, and Mark Gordon Fee was our Spiritual Guide for the weekend. This is Mark’s third (and final) talk on Saturday afternoon.