Happy late new year everyone! Wherever you are in your life, I pray that this blog post finds you well
and inquisitive for what God has in store for you in the new year!


I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on some of the things God has done this year. I couldn’t
close out the year and enter a new one without inviting you to re-look at 2019 with a bird’s eye view:
  • I became 85% fundraised by the time summer came to a close! 
  • A large number of the people we met at Welcome Week are still here and learning about Jesus.
  • God moved in our students to take a serious dive into Scripture.
  • Fall Camp was a success - students connected with God, each other, and took the opportunity to worship Jesus in an uninterrupted space.
  • Our Preston Ridge students have become a close and supportive group to one another.
  • Jesus is working to free me from anxiety by placing people like my mentors and coworkers in my life who have directed me towards counseling and God.
  • My brother became a dad to a beautiful and healthy baby girl in November. Praise God!
And the list goes on! These are just some highlights. Now let’s dive into December!


How can you tell when students are trusting one another and becoming a real, authentic, Jesus-loving
community? I think this starts to take hold when you see people take part in 3 things: 1) conversations
and questions about Jesus, 2) serving and supporting each other, even if that means sacrificing time,
3) freedom to be goofy with each other. Surely, there is more than this, but in a very simple way, I
have seen God bless our Preston Ridge students by providing us with homes to have our small
groups, goofy holiday parties, and opportunities to serve.

Preston Ridge Christmas Party and White Elephant Gift Exchange!

I have seen this specifically with a pair of students that came in to our community to be blessed, and
immediately became blessings. They both underwent surgeries this year that took them out of school,
and our students jumped at the opportunity to visit, bring them food, and keep them company.
In turn, they opened up their homes as a place to host Christmas parties like the one above, and
have shown such a fervor for people and Jesus. Their willingness and teachability has struck me.
Please give God a praise of thanks for these two!


On the last Thursday and Friday before our Christmas break, the apprentices were assigned to give a
20-25 minute sermon on the topic “This is My Gospel”, or why Jesus is good news to us personally.

The apprentices went to an arcade to celebrate ending the year and crushing our sermons!

Though I was very nervous and has such a hard time writing it, the opportunity to reflect on God’s hand
in my life was really good for me, and hearing about His hand in the lives of my friends was even
more powerful. It is always astounding and beautiful to me when I get to hear the stories God has
written for people, and how He has moved them from A to B. I was really honored to hear God speak
through our apprentices, and to hear God speak through me to the point where the sermon itself was
a healing process. Only 2 more sermons to go!


This winter, we took a staff retreat down to Austin. These retreats are really meant for bonding, but also to take a pause and get back on board with God’s agenda for our students
and staff post-break.

Worship at Staff Retreat Part 1!

Worship at Staff Retreat Part 2!

We spent the retreat worshipping God together, speaking encouragements to each other, playing
lots of games and taking lots of walks, and reflecting on The Narrative of Frederick Douglass.

The theme of our staff retreat, if there was one, was learning how to persevere. The book on Frederick
Douglass gave us an example of how to hope in God in suffering, and what our reactions to hardship as
a staff can say about our faith in God. I highly encourage you to read it no matter who you are. It was a
quick read, and it really challenged me to think carefully about if I praise God and consider it an honor
to suffer as a means to be more like Jesus.

Hike at Inks Lakes featuring a beautiful waterfall!

At one point in the retreat, I went on a hike with a lot of the women plus Drew, one of our apprentices.
We climbed lots of rocks and made our own path in some ways. I don’t know if this is true, but I think
that mini-hike taught me a little about perseverance. I don’t climb rocks or hike, but that day, that was
our only option. It wasn’t difficult, but it made me wonder why I was so willing to take a chance on
climbing these random rocks but never take chances in my actual life. I could have fallen, and I
definitely tripped, but either way, I was thankful to be on God’s creation. It’s something I want to pray
about more - how courage, perseverance, and taking chances are related to faith and the Kingdom of

Hiking Crew!

Thank you so much for reading! If you have a moment, please consider praying these prayers for our
students, staff, and world:
  • Apprentices deciding what to do with our careers
  • Staff regaining health - so many of us got sick at staff retreat! 
  • Students continuing to grow in faith and reading of Scripture.
  • Depression and anxiety is plaguing our students and world - please pray for whatever needs to happen to counteract this!
  • World leaders. Please pray for our world leaders to desire what God desires for His people.




  1. Hey Sam! Thanks for sharing. I love that you took the time to recap what God did in 2018 - it was a great year, and I'm looking forward to how God tops it in 2019!
    I'm also encouraged to hear what you thought of the book and our topic for staff retreat. I think it was a good reminder to all of to persevere in the face of hardship and keep honoring God who brings us through it. Love you!


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