The Waldensian Trail of Faith
At 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 16, twelve Living Education students stood in a dorm driveway waiting for Miss Rebekah Ross and Mr. Jonathan McNair—their “taxi-drivers” for a trip 800 years into the past.
A few hours later, they pulled into the Cottian Alps in the border region of France and Italy—actually, they arrived at the Waldensian Trail of Faith located in Valdese, North Carolina. And, for half a day, they journeyed into the Era of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18–29).
At this outdoor museum, students stepped into an exact replica of the old “Barba” college where young Waldensians memorized long sections of Scripture in secret. Several intrepid LE students crawled on hands and knees into a model of the cave where dozens of Waldensians once covertly congregated to study and sing hymns. Only a sliver of light illuminated the back of the cave. The guide explained that on one terrible day, French-Catholic soldiers used that tiny crack in the rock to smoke the gatherers out—in order to kill them, one by one, as they crawled from the cave.
Mr. McNair explained to the group that much of the history exhibited was not the history of true Christians. Early on, most of the Waldenses were absorbed into Protestantism, and the true Church moved into Eastern Europe. Driving this point home, the students passed a replica of the Chanforan Monument, dedicated to the Waldensians’ official entry into the Reformation in 1532.
Mr. McNair encouraged the students to appreciate the sacrifices of these people, even while recognizing that their beliefs were not fully scriptural. He challenged them, “Would you be willing to die for what you believe in, as they did?”
After the drive back to Charlotte, students jumped out of the cars and back into their modern lives at Living Education. For just a day, they had visited the Era of Thyatira and stepped into the shoes of the Waldensians—and, just as God’s Church has carried on through time, so do they.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame
If you have a need for speed, you may wish you had tagged along with the Living Education students on Sunday, December 20. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is located in downtown Charlotte, only 20 minutes from the student residences—so they didn’t have to race to get there by 10:00 a.m. Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan McNair accompanied the students, along with several other LE instructors and their wives, providing some stiff competition for the races later in the day.
Making their way through the Hall, students walked the “Glory Road” exhibit and examined 18 cars dating from the 1920s to the 1990s. These iconic stock cars were parked on a display track with banking gradually increasing to 33 degrees. Speedways use steep banking to apply centripetal force to the cars, which prevents them from being flung off the tracks due to the lack of friction between the tires and the road.
At the Pit Crew Challenge, students and teachers teamed up and competed against each other to get cars jacked up, gassed up, and equipped with new tires. The pit crew of Mr. Ryan Dawson, who teaches LE’s “Living the Fruits of the Spirit” class, took first place by finishing in less than nine seconds.
Finally, Mr. McNair led the group to the Racing Simulators. Students and instructors jumped into the driver seats of stock cars lined up beneath a huge video screen that projected the virtual race. The virtual track for the day was the oval Daytona International Speedway. The fastest lap-times and speeds were projected onto the leaderboard, and DaQuan Rucker snared first place at 193.79 mph, edging past German Roldan’s previous record of 192.64. Mr. Jerry Ruddlesden and Mr. McNair followed close behind.
As the group climbed into the vans and were driven—at normal speed—back to the dorms, they geared up for the final stretch of the semester. Finals loomed and term project deadlines were fast approaching. Soon, unless the students shifted into high gear, they would find themselves with a need for speed.