Posted on October 9, 2015
Hidden in the Heart of an Apple … An Orchard Grows
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” ~Jeremiah 17: 7-8
The spiritual focus for this year’s Vanguards is the idea of being rooted in God, as Jeremiah describes in these verses. Vanguard, HoneyRock’s new gap year program, is designed to offer 18-20 year old high school graduates a chance to explore their identity and calling in life before entering college. Taking a gap year between high school graduation and college has been an increasing trend in the past few years and has been proven beneficial for students. Vanguard offers a chance for this exploration to take place in the beauty of God’s creation with a Christ-centered community.
As part of last weekend’s commissioning ceremony for the 2015 Vanguards, the new Vanguards and their parents planted an apple tree. The tree is the first of what will one day become an entire orchard, as each cohort of Vanguards plants a new tree. The apple tree represents how the Vanguards will grow to be more deeply rooted in the Lord, so that their lives may produce spiritual fruit.
To kick of their new lives at HoneyRock, this year’s cohort of 12 Vanguards are spending their first week on a wilderness trip backpacking along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When they return, they will continue to form community as they are introduced to HoneyRock culture and establish their daily lives for the next 11 months.
Vanguard Gap Year is structured around the historical church calendar and encourages growth of body, mind and spirit. Students will engage their bodies through work and service, outdoor activities, and learning job skills. They will engage their minds through personal study and interdisciplinary seminars on core theological and philosophical questions taught by Wheaton College professors. They will experience spiritual growth through church activities, mentorships, worship, and prayer.
This gap year will be a formative experience for these 12 new Vanguard participants. We pray that God will use it to give their faith deep roots and their lives purpose for His Kingdom.
-written by Lydia H. Stucki