In 1992 I found myself huddled with my family in our dark, humid garage as a class 5 hurricane tore through our Kauai island home.
When the eye of the storm passed overhead we scurried out of our hiding place during those few minutes of calm to survey the damage.
Just up the block there was a home sitting atop of another. There was debris and wild destruction all around but mercifully no one was injured.
Except for a few scrapes, one home in the neighborhood seemed virtually untouched; it was the home made entirely of cinder block that even a monster hurricane couldn’t hope to move…and it became the refuge for many as the winds reappeared.
As a father, a veteran youth worker and a Pastor I often feel as if I am back in the swirling wind and banging sounds of a hurricane. Not a physical one that wants to tear apart a dwelling, but a cultural one that wants to tear apart the soul.
Those winds seem to blow the strongest against young men and women of college age who are still in the midst of constructing their lives and it seems as if the footings and materials which once would hold our young people firm in the faith have either collapsed or are in need of fortification.
Many of us sent our kids to Christian schools or colleges hoping that the foundation would be reinforced there. But to our dismay, we noticed even many of those places of influence are now being tattered as they try to hold fast to a Biblical worldview and more than a few have suffered fatal spiritual damage.
But this isn’t the first cultural hurricane that I’ve been through. I was in the fury of another cultural storm way back in the mid 1960s.
I came of age when the social fabric of those who had built successful lives after the second world war was being torn apart by their own children who now played around with drugs, free love and sang about world peace.
As Southern Californian surf kid I was in the epicenter of these changes and challenges but fortunately I became a Christian at the beginning of what is now christened as “the Jesus Movement” and while Woodstock was happening I somehow ended up at a one year Bible School (Capernwray) in the United Kingdom.
It was a pivotal moment for a young man still under construction.
There I rubbed shoulders with men and women who, unbeknownst to me, were among the brilliant lights and intellectual heavy hitters in the Christian world; F.F. Bruce, Dr. Alan Redpath, Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Major Ian Thomas, Corrie Ten Boom and others who helped add support and structure to my rather immature faith.
Thinking long and hard about the present torrent pounding against the Christian faith which we hope has been imprinted on our children, it seems to me as if we (both in a church context and a family context) need not to rail against the wind but offer a stronger defense to it by way of deep, polite, thoughtful conversations which are geared not to tell our young people what to think but rather help them learn how to think. We ought not hide in our basements but ignite the light that offers illumination of well thought out Biblical teaching and sound reasoning. We should stop wagging our fingers and start telling better stories paired with more authentic Christian lives if we want to melt the cultural storm and reinforce the hearts and minds of our young adults.
Rather than moan and wring our hands about the madness around us, our little church community decided to try and do something about it.
We would create a one-year experience of intense, challenging and adventurous Bible exploration to help add to the spiritual cement of young people before they launch in a career or head off to college. Each week we would bring to our school one of a huge variety of devout, brilliant Christian teachers and thinkers to imprint sound Biblical truth and intellectual reasoning into our students. We are calling it The Anchor House because it is meant to offer that which will hold fast during a storm.
What specifically does a school of the Bible teach?
Well, naturally a Bible School teaches books of the Old and New Testament.
During this coming year of school at the Anchor House our students will be immersed in the books of Romans, Luke, Exodus, Hosea, 1st Peter, Philemon, James, 1st Kings, Isaiah, Ephesians, Ecclesiastes, Daniel and Nehemiah… to name a few.
Along side of these core main course studies students will learn about relationships, Kingdom economics, apologetics, science and faith, comparative religions, missions & culture, Christian living, Jesus in the Old Testament, Worship, how to teach the Bible, discipleship, hermeneutics and more.
And then there is the “hands on” stuff.
Depending on which area of ministry is signed up for, a student might find themselves learning how to create compelling stories behind a camera or with a computer, they may learn how to direct wild and wacky games for Middle School kids or they may sharpen their skill in teaching Bible stories creatively to children, putting together a rip roaring weekend retreat for young adults, creating and recording original worship music or making connections for Christ on a basketball court.
On top of the goodies being brought by visiting and local scholars, the Anchor House crew will learn what it is like to live in community and to navigate a uniquely different culture.
And some nights our crew will simply be munching popcorn at our fabulous and provocative “Movies That Get You Talking” night or raising their voices in an evening of praise.
Of course this doesn’t even take into account the various adventures around the island that are the real dessert of the Anchor House experience.
For those joining us on this first year, the cherry on top is the grand opening of the Anchor House that will be a “pull out all the stops” celebration that includes a concert by The Talbott Brothers (www.thetalbottbrothers.com) and other surprises.
So as you can see, the menu is a full one and if you have a hankering for what is being offered, make your reservations now, seating is limited.
When one thinks of the island lifestyle one rarely thinks of “nose to the grindstone” industry or streets full of well heeled business people walking fast paced and head down into their sky scraper cubical.
Instead we see visions of sun-drenched people lying in hammocks swinging in the gentle trade winds and being serviced by attractive ladies holding trays of iced beverages in coconuts with umbrellas sticking out of them. All are well tanned with nowhere to go and nothing to do…except relax.
The reality is somewhere in the middle.
The true rhythm of the island is that of hard working people…who also know how to relax…or “hang loose”.
People have to get to work on time, but they also will politely wave in waiting cars on the slow two-lane highway. And there is “island time” but it simply means a “bit more relaxed” not “throw away your watch”.
And appropriately, the Anchor House has tuned its teaching schedule to the rhythm of the island.
We will get down to business all morning and then after lunch let our students run loose to enjoy the sun, surf…or hammocks.
Our evenings will get busy again in school related things because, frankly, the sidewalks are rolled up after dark on Kauai and night time is “feeding time” in the ocean.
And to make sure that our students respect the island’s working folks, we will take Sunday and Monday off (not Saturday) so that the people who live here have a little more space on their favorite beach.
So you can get an idea of what the “typical” school week looks like we have posted a sample. But keep in mind that an actual week at the Anchor House could look delightfully and wonderfully different.
Perspective is everything. Most of us live in a very small world full of experiences, customs, ideas and actions that we assume most everyone else shares as well. Of course all you have to do is to travel a bit and you’ll find out quickly that there are lots of differences in how people act and think. And a good swath of those people assume that most of the others in the world think and act as they do. This is because being earth bound creatures we all have limitations and boundaries that tend to inhibit us from seeing things from other people’s experiences let alone God’s perspective.
The apostle Paul noted that even for Christians we “see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror” and it is only in our eventual exit from this ball of dirt that we will be able to have God’s angle on all things. But that doesn’t mean we are stuck in small thinking. The Anchor House experience is one of a journey to a place where a student can better see things as God does, a place where vistas are unhindered by the tangles and weeds of our small thinking world. A place where the hard questions suddenly become less difficult due to the introduction of a timeless and undiscovered perspective. This does not mean trying to fit Kingdom concepts into the small cheap container of modern culture but rather helping young men and women scale the big ideas of historic Christianity in order to see more clearly both the chaos of the world’s form of wisdom and the magnificent wonders of God. The view is truly better up here, the intellectual air cleaner and the expanse of God’s power and thoughts greater. Perhaps you or someone you know would like to take the climb with us. The journey starts September of this year.
The roof is on, the waterproof under materials, shingles and siding is going up. The Anchor House is now water tight, dry and within a few months ready to host a family of students from all over the world. Watching the construction one is reminded on how God does his work of construction in our lives. First clearing the rubble of sin and replacing it with the foundation of His Word and the promise of His forgiveness and then, piece by piece, beginning to build in us the very design of who he made us to be. It is a lifetime project, full of vital ideas and principals that support the rest of the lesser additions. Our Master designer and builder makes each of us different, unique and useful for His purposes. And he also makes us water tight, designed to hold fast against the torrents of life that beat against us from time to time. But it is a process, one board, one nail, one shingle at a time. The end product of the place now under construction is to be part of God’s formation process in the lives of every young man or woman who passes through the doorframe, that they will be more solid, more stable and more water tight in their faith. Perhaps you know someone for whom 9 months of focused spiritual construction would be help. If so, please let them know about the Anchor House as our 40 spaces will fill up quickly. And of course, perhaps it is you who might need to be a little more watertight. If so, welcome aboard.
There are lots of ways to stretch, grow and learn. Some people are self-taught using the tools of books, media and observation to develop their skill. Many take the traditional role of higher education in a college of four years or more. A growing number harken back to the old method of apprenticeship and shadow a craftsman until they develop the skill to replicate their trade. And for some it is a uniquely different mishmash of all of these methods.
The learning experience at the Anchor House promises to be a delightful mishmash. Almost weekly a guest lecturer, experts in their field, will fly into Kauai and impart their knowledge via book studies of the Bible, apologetics or Christian living.
These teachers, along with a cadre of local talent will live and eat at the Anchor House and be available for deeper conversations after class.
In addition students will be personally mentored by team experts in a specific area of ministry of their choosing such as youth ministry, children’s ministry, worship, sports ministry, camping ministry and media arts. This part of the experience is outside of the classroom and imbedded deep within the local community.
And of course there is the growth that comes from meeting new people from all over the world and doing life together for nine months on an island 3000 miles from the nearest landmass.
To be among the forty students for this once in a lifetime experience will truly be something uniquely different…and wonderful.
That’s what the learning experience is like at the Anchor House. With both visiting guest lecturers and Anchor House team teachers you will be challenged, inspired, awed and encouraged with Bible teaching that will invite you to go further up and further in.
The cranes have come and gone. Soon the roof will go down and the interior of the Anchor House, now “dried in” will become a beehive of activity as plumbers, electricians, dry-wall men and finish carpenters ply their trade.
In the meantime, staff is being assembled and guest lecturers locked down all in anticipation of our September 2022 launch date.
Everyone on the job knows that what they are creating is an important tool that will serve as the nest year after year for young men and women who crave a deeper understanding of God and His word.
The Christ tinged stories that will unfold under the now visible beams will make the sweat and splinters worth it to every craftsman on the job.
Maybe you know someone who needs to be part of that story. Maybe it’s you. If so, tell them about the Anchor House, we still have room to come aboard for our maiden voyage!