Four months have passed since the 63 of us arrived in Pine Mountain, and what an incredible four months of growth they have been. As we moved into the holiday season and anticipate the coming of a new year, we are reminded of the lessons we have learned and of all that the Lord has done in and for us over the past semester. But in addition to remembering, we also look forward in expectation to everything that lies ahead in the coming seasons.

In this season, the Lord has shown us what it looks like to live in community well. We have learned by experience that  community is at its best when its members practice and encourage vulnerability. For many of us, an ideal community, where we feel a sense of full contentedness and belonging, has been elusive and seemingly unreachable. Through daily interaction with one another, we quickly learned that true and meaningful interaction cannot happen until we are able to come alongside each other and express love towards each other from where we’re at. This looks like taking the time to listen to each other, being honest about our thoughts and experiences, as well as, affirming the good we see in each other. And providing hope based on promises of God’s grace. Community does not thrive on its own – it begs effort and intentionality on the parts of all its members. We have also learned the importance of giving grace within community. Living in such close proximity to one another, boundaries are bound to be crossed and feelings are bound to be hurt. But, when we are able to see past the mistakes, see the Image-bearing human that they are, and show them grace despite what they may have done, we love them like Christ would and we flourish as a body of believers.

While we have learned so much through experiencing and cultivating community, we have also learned a great deal about what it looks like to cultivate our minds, to think critically. As we consider the beliefs we hold to be true, we must be able to differentiate between what is true and what is not. As believers, it is so important that we know the truth and are able to defend and communicate it. Through learning in the classroom with various professors, we have been able to encounter truth and have been able to learn and experience what it means to truly own what we believe. We have continued to learn and understand culture, what it means to appreciate others, and what it means to shape culture. We have engaged in understanding the many aspects of worldview as applied in various forms. As depicted in the cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28, our role as humans is to multiply and fill and subdue the earth. We live out this mandate by creating and shaping culture that glorifies the Lord.

As we look towards the next season and all that 2019 will bring, we pray that the Lord continues to shape us and mold us. We are excited and full of anticipation of all that the Lord will do through the rest of our experiences, adventures, and lessons together.

With thankfulness and hope,

Class XIII