Was it all you expected it to be?
The Forge has exceeded my expectations and God has shown me that his plans are so much bigger my own. I expected to learn new things about myself and to gain more knowledge about scripture and leadership, but I had no idea what it meant to take eight months and go through an intense discipleship program. I expected living in community would be stretching, but I didn’t realize how stretching living with fifteen people that I didn’t choose to live with actually would be. The Forge is tough, because God uses it to refine. “These [trials] have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes event though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:7
What do you do each day?
Most mornings begin with P2 (prayer and physical training). Then we have class in the mornings and some afternoons. These include Theology, Life 101, Nehemiah (Leadership Principles), Inductive Bible Study, and several others. We also have weekly speakers who give lectures. Each speaker is so different, and yet there’s always something to be learned from them—especially in our Q&A time! Most evenings we have some free time to work on assignments, visit our host families, or have Forge family dinners. However, no two days are the same. Flexibility is a big part of the program.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned?
This semester has been spent answering the question, “who are you?” In our Sanctus class, we learned the different components of identity including character and temperament, genetics and history, and foundation. We took the Myers-Briggs temperament analysis and we’re also doing a leadership styles class. I was surprised at how accurate these assessments were, and how helpful they’ve been in understanding myself and the group dynamics. A definition of maturity is “knowing oneself,” and I think that someone who does not know themselves cannot be a good leader. If you don’t know how you’re made, you certainly don’t know what you’re made for. I don’t want to be a pencil trying to paint a masterpiece. It has been eye-opening for me to see how God has uniquely made me, and I’m looking forward to next semester where we will start to answer “why are you here?”
What are your weekends like?
Six weekends each semester we work conferences or retreats at one of Pine Cove’s camps in Tyler. This helps us apply what we’ve learned during the week to our weekends; it also helps offset the cost of the program and build close relationships with Pine Cove’s awesome resident staff. I have done everything from work crew in the dining hall to leading the four and five year olds program to speaking to the high school age campers, and it required a lot of flexibility. Then, the weekends where we don’t work, we are free to do whatever we like as long as we’re back for class on Monday.
What’s been the most challenging part of the program?
One of the most challenging things for me was my Forge director week. Each student has the opportunity to be the Forge director for one week during the program. This student has all of the responsibilities of the Forge director, including taking care of our speaker (arrival and their stay with us), scheduling of classes, and planning any special events for the week. I have found that my personality is much different from most of the students in the program, so it was difficult for me to lead them. There were tasks that I knew needed to get done, but I had to find a way to make them fun and exciting for the group.
Are you finished fundraising?
I am not completely finished, but have $1,163 left for the program. I am confident that God will provide for this remaining portion of tuition costs. I also want to thank those of you who are supporting me. God has abundantly and overwhelmingly provided for me thus far!