It has been a wild 7 months – from the moment our students moved in all the way to the chaotic and unexpected way they moved out – Act Five has been the holding place for absolutely remarkable transformation in the lives of our 12 students. They are sad to have left Blake Haven, the place that has come to hold profound meaning for them, but it has been a true joy to hear them reflect on and put into words the stories of their journeys through the year. We wanted to share some of these stories here and invite you to celebrate with us the way God has been so, so faithful to us!
“The first semester for me was amazing. I learned so much and felt so opened up to new possibilities and new ways of thinking and living. So much of what we were learning I had simply never been exposed to before, and just kind of blew my mind. I remember the first time I cried at this house, and it was after a Six Acts class.
We had just learned about head knowledge vs heart knowledge when it comes to God, something I had never heard of. Basically, head knowledge is an understanding of Scripture and what it says, just the basic knowing that it is true. Heart knowledge is feeling God, and knowing he is there because you can see him acting in your own life as well as feeling him in your heart… I talked to John Bowen more about this and realized the gift I had in being able to know so much of the Bible, but this really furthered my longing to know God in more and deeper ways so that I could experience both these knowledges equally.
It was a time of wonder and awe at any new fact that came my way and everything struck me as so incredibly cool…
But the second semester is when things got real. It felt like we were living real life and not just this incredible dream. Second semester and our storytelling nights taught me to appreciate people because each person, regardless of how remarkable their life may or may not seem, has a really cool story. It showed me the strength that lies in having a community that could rally around me. It proved all that Theology of Place stuff as real and A Rocha made more sense. Basically it was living out what we had in the first semester only heard to be true and that’s so cool that we lived it and it made sense to us!”
“What does it look like to follow Christ faithfully? A question I have been thinking about a lot lately post-Act Five. I do not have a direct answer to this question but I have witnessed it a lot this past year.
I have witnessed and heard in my placements the project management team at Indwell, as they discuss and plan out the future for low income housing. How they talk about the way they build their buildings, changing everything to passive housing, to build all of their buildings energy efficient. This is something that costs more upfront, but is better for the earth and it shows in the way that they talk is what they care about. They want to cut back on homelessness and end poverty, not only in Hamilton but they are slowly working in other cities in Ontario.
Todd Bender the founder of CityKidz has inspired me a lot throughout this year and has shown me what it looks like to follow Christ faithfully… How he talked about the future and how it would be amazing if our great-great-great-grandchildren were doing a study on poverty and what that was?
Both of my placements this year in the end have the same sort of goal, they want to break the cycle of poverty, and I witnessed Christ in every one of my co-workers talking and planning what is possible in the future… The idea of a social enterprise and what could be something possible for my family business. How can I help a community like I have seen Indwell and CityKidz change and help shape a community? This has challenged me with everything new that I have been learning. I want things to change quickly, but in reality it will take longer than I want it to.”
“At my Citykidz placement, I felt really successful in the work I was doing and it just reminded me that I am good at things. It’s moments like the message I got from some the guys in the program thanking me for being supportive.
Slowly I’m starting to realize that this person behind the mask is actually way better than the mask will ever be.
I want to continue to put the mask away and allow myself to realize that I actually do have a lot to offer and I am more than just my failures. One of our storytellers, Carmen, said something about just ‘doing the next right thing’ and I think that can be used really well.
In this next time of my life where we are all separated into our own houses and even as I go into the next few years of my life, I hope that I can carry on with habits I’ve started like reading the Common Book of Prayer every day or what I’ve been doing more recently, making my bed every morning. I hope to be able to do these things, but also let myself fail in these things and as time goes on to be reflective enough to reevaluate and see what I need for the time of my life I’m in. I hope to continue to let people into my world and to experience joy and to be silly and laugh a lot.”
“I think the biggest thing I’ve realized about living a life of faithfulness is that there’s no set of standards you have to meet or guidelines you have to follow, and because of that everyone has a different way of doing it. Even the 12 of us who have spent the past seven months living with each other, taking part in all the same morning thoughts, complines, classes, trips and stories of faithfulness each have shown how we follow Christ in different ways, and will continue to do so in our respective paths of life, whether it be in Music, Art, an English major, or working on a farm.”
“Because of Act Five, there are now words I can’t seem to un-hear and I’m sure that won’t stop for a long time – those being: community, environment, and hummus.
I believe with my whole heart that Act Five is for the writer, the creator, the thinker, the do-er, and the dreamer. It’s for the realist, the foodie, the willing, the brave, the broken – the ones in the midst of healing.
For me, this program appealed to every “dreamer” instinct in me while at the same time grounding me to the biggest realities. Act Five has opened innumerable doors but gave me the peace to close others. It gave me the space to think big and then begin to think of practical and realistic ways to go about making it actually happen instead of keeping it as a far away dream.”
“I think following Christ faithfully is exactly what we’ve been told over and over again, that is, doing the next right thing, however big or small, and being bold enough to do it. Christ doesn’t demand a lot of us for salvation or His love, but He asks that we live boldly and show love because He showed us love first, and He showed so much of it that we don’t really have any reasonable excuse not to at least try to be more like Him.
We all show love in different ways, and we should all try to have an authentic servant heart, and declare the Gospel boldly, and pray often and deeply, and try to make a difference in the lives of others, but living up to what other people have done isn’t faithfulness. Faithfulness is really just trying to do the best with the gifts we’ve been offered, and doing so gladly day after day.”
Our prayer is that these 12 would know Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and that they would move forward in boldness, their feet secure and their heads held high, ready to walk faithfully to where God will lead them. Our hope rests that all of these experiences, stories, and daily practices may lead us all to the person of Jesus Christ, that our students may continue to walk with Jesus, and he with them. We are deeply grateful, and confident that God has done a wonderful work in our midst. May the memory only grow ever brighter!