“Sometimes the dorms can get really lonely and you can get really homesick,” one girl shares after reading Night by Elie Wiesel in Philosophy and Religion. “But God is always there for you...No matter how dark or lonely the situation feels.” Mr. Preston's class does more than teach philosophy.
As students file into the classroom and take their seats, Daniel hands Mr. Preston his chocolate muffin and a couple of donuts from Service Food. “Alright class, 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 provoke deep thought. Night and The Hiding Place cause gears to churn in the minds of students, awakening thoughts and ideas.
One classmate shares that the power of God is made perfect in weakness. Anxiety followed her to Hillcrest this year with the frightening thought of living in the dorms and not being able to see the faces of her parents before she went to bed each night. She was nervous and knew it was going to be a hard transition. But she also knew that God had her in his hands, much like Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place, and Corrie's story provides perspective. The student was able to rest in the fact that God cared for her in the new surroundings. Seeing how God guided Corrie in the heart of Nazi Germany provides the girl confidence. God was Corrie's strength even when she felt weak.
Another girl shares about the loneliness she feels in the dorms. The Hiding Place make it clear to her that no matter what happens, she is never alone. Discussions in Philosophy and Religion reminds her of home--of conversations she had with her family before she came to Hillcrest. She is reminded that God is with her, just as God was with Corrie when she was separated from her father and sister to follow a path that God ordained. Although Corrie felt alone, God constantly showed himself to her. God spoke to her in little ways, like when he provided the Gospels for her to read in prison. This allowed her to communicate with God and God to communicate with her. God was reassuring Corrie that he’d never leave or forsake her.
“Many times we ask ourselves, ‘Where is God in all of this?'” Mr. Preston continues, addressing the class. He references Night when discussing how challenging it can be to see God in situations that seem so dark.
One student addresses this issue by contrasting both books being discussed. He spoke of the power of hope. When people don’t have God’s hope, life becomes shrouded in darkness. The young man observed the uplifting spirit in The Hiding Place that contrasts with 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. Their hearts surging with the ultimate hope found only in Jesus. Philosophy and Religion brings life into perspective for many students, reminding them daily of the beacon of hope that is in the Savior.