I thought I'd start our holiday report with our impressions of the college itself. In case there's anyone left who doesn't know where Sam is attending college, he is going to West Coast Baptist College, a ministry of Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, CA. This college was started 12 years ago, and in that time has grown to over 800 students. We had never heard of it until about 3 years ago, when we came to Canada, and met many of the Canadian students who have attended and are attending there. We heard so many good things about it that Sam started looking at the website, listening to their college singing groups, listening to sermons by Pastor Chappell and some of the men on the staff of the college . . . and he fell in love with WCBC. Everything that we checked out about it was good, so we had no objection when he decided that this is the college God wanted him to attend.
Our first impressions were that this place is in one of the ugliest places on earth! LOL Lancaster is located in the high desert of California, about an hour north of Los Angeles, 30 miles from Edwards AFB. There is nothing there to look at except tumbleweeds and dust. The campus of the church and college, though, are beautiful: palm trees, green grass, and well-kept, modern buildings.
Of course, a church and college are not made up of the buildings and physical location. We found the staff and members of the church to be some of the most gracious, helpful people we've ever met. They strive to make college "home" for the students. We were assured many times that our boy would be well cared-for. Each dorm room has a "room mom" who takes care of those 4 students exclusively, making them cookies, having them in her home on occasion, checking for any needs they might have. The dorm supervisors and room leaders are juniors and seniors hand-picked by the administration for their spiritual maturity and leadership qualities. Pastor Chappell's personal ministry philosophy is one of servant leadership: the leaders are servants as well as leaders, not fancying themselves as better than their students, but serving alongside them, teaching by example. That is biblical, by the way. Jesus washed His disciples' feet and taught them that in order to lead, they had to become servants. The college focuses on teaching the students this same philosophy. I know it's not always this way with Christian colleges, but we have heard from numerous people that they know someone who has graduated from WCBC, and we have never yet heard a bad report of a WCBC graduate. I believe that might have something to do with the leadership!
Some of the everyday things:
Food - the college provides 21 meals a week, 19 of which are hot meals. Saturday and Sunday lunches are sack lunches because the students are involved in ministry duties during those times. However, on Sunday night after church, the students are treated to their biggest meal of the week. We were told that they have things like roast beef, steak and shrimp, etc. during that meal. The chef for the school is a former professional chef for a cruise line; he is used to cooking good food for large groups of people. We had a couple of meals with Samuel in the dining hall, and found the food to be very good. For students who work during meal times during the week, a sack lunch is provided, with their choice of sandwich, chips, and fruit. I don't think Sam will go hungry, and he won't have to spend a lot of money going to buy fast food. He did say that they have been buying cold drinks from the Sam's drink machine in front of Wal Mart. He says they're not the best sodas, but when it's over 100 degrees outside, something cold tastes good no matter what!
Dorm rooms - Sam's room is in one of the older dorms, from what I understand. It's about 15 feet square, with two bunk beds, a desk, and a dresser. It's full, to say the least! His room leader is very neat, though, so I think they'll be able to fit everything in that they need. There are laundry facilities on each floor, and a common room with a fridge and microwave on each floor. The newer dorm rooms are bigger. One of his friends from here is in his dorm, but his other friends are in other dorms.
Ministry opportunities - each student is required to be involved in one aspect of ministry each year that they attend. They choose all that they're interested in from a list of all the ministries, and then a staff member interviews them and places them. Samuel chose several different ministries, and he was placed in 4th-6th grade Saturday classes for the kids who ride the busses to the church. I'm excited for him; I am praying that the Lord will use him to lead some of these kids to the Lord and as an influence on them to serve the Lord. He starts in his ministry next Saturday.
Soul winning - WCBC and LBC are dedicated to actively witnessing to others. The students are required to go soulwinning every week, but there is no "quota" of converts required. The quota idea has never been a favorite of mine. We can witness to people faithfully, but they must make the decision to accept or reject Christ themselves; we cannot force them to accept Christ. To require a certain amount of conversions each week, with consequences for not reaching that quota, forces students, or at least tempts them, to pad their numbers or push for false professions. I love the balance of having a time to witness, but not having a quota - it's how we've lived our own lives and trained our children. LBC has grown to over 4,000 attendance in 21 years by simply witnessing and allowing the Lord to work in people's hearts!
This has gotten quite long. I'm just really pleased with the school and the church. Andrew, after being down there and seeing the dorms and the activity and the church services, is now excited to finish high school and get down there himself. He went with Sam last Monday as he moved into his dorm room and explored quite a bit. He's already trying to figure out how he can make money to save for college, and to that I say a hearty Amen! LOL
Classes start Tuesday. Tomorrow, the entire college is going to the Anaheim Angels baseball game - a block of 850 tickets! This is right up Sam's alley! He'll have great fun, and then they'll all buckle down to study (I hope!). He placed well enough on his English placement exam that he is in the regular freshman English and not remedial. As a homeschool mom, I was a little afraid of that placement test! I was pretty relieved that he made the regular class, and he was relieved that he didn't make the advanced class, the stinker! LOL I'll probably tell bits of Sam's college life as the year progresses. Hope you don't mind! ;)