"Sometimes the dorms can get really lonely and you can get really homesick," one girl shared after reading Night by Elie Wiesel in Hillcrest's Philosophy and Religion class. "But God is always there for you...No matter how dark or lonely the situation feels." Mr. Preston's class drives students to live deeply.

Daniel Preston pauses mid-sentence to gather his thoughts as students wrestle through big ideas and learn how to communicate in Hillcrest's dialog-based classrooms.

As students file in and take their seats, Daniel hands Mr. Preston a chocolate muffin to signify the start of class. “Alright, let’s calm our bodily functions. I have a word from the Lord today,” Mr. Preston announces. After his devotional, students dive into books that stir deep thought.

Stories like Night and The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, cause gears to churn in students’ minds, awakening thoughts and ideas that would previously go unnoticed.

After their reading time, one student shares how the power of God is made perfect in weakness. Anxiety followed her to Hillcrest this year. She was frightened at the thought of living in the dorms. Not being able to see her parents before bed each night was a difficult reality for her, but she also knew God had her in his hands. Corrie Ten Boom’s story in The Hiding Place is providing perspective.

The student shares how she is resting in the fact that God placed her at Hillcrest in new surroundings, guiding her every bit as much as he guided Corrie in the heart of Nazi Germany. God was her strength, even when she felt weak.

Jayne and Sam take in Mr. Preston's analysis after the students have shared their varied cultural perspectives in Hillcrest's classes that boast small sizes with an intercultural thrust.

“Many times we ask ourselves, ‘Where is God in all of this?” Mr. Preston comments, addressing the class. He references Night when discussing how how challenging it is to see God in situations that seem so dark.

One student addresses the topics by contrasting both books. He speaks of the power of hope in God. When people don’t have God’s hope, life becomes shrouded in darkness. The young man observed the uplifting spirit found throughout The Hiding Place, compared to the heavy, somber tone permeating Night. “We don’t have to live with the despair that Elie had,” he concludes. “We have hope in Christ, just as Corrie did. So we can live freely and joyfully in that hope.”

As students saunter out of the classroom, they go with minds full of new understanding and hearts surging with the ultimate hope found only in Jesus. Philosophy and Religion brings life back into perspective for many students, reminded daily of the beacon of hope that in Jesus Christ.

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