One of the most exciting parts about attending college is anticipating the opportunity to form new friendships and be part of a tight knit community. Every year I hear parents tell their children how college friendships made a deep impact on their life. When students start to think about their education and what they are looking for in a college they usually decide to visit to better understand what the campus will be like. When students go for a college visit they want the affirmation that the campus has a sense of community. Students want to know they will belong and thrive there. Current student Nate Payne recently said, “Community was most certainly a major factor when deciding to attend. I wanted a place that was focused on family.”
The Word of Life Bible Institute has a unique atmosphere centered on community. Specifically, because the Jeju campus is smaller in number, the students have the opportunity to form deep and meaningful relationships with each other. Current student Ana Mosley knows the Jeju campus is the perfect fit for her because of the family atmosphere saying, “The idea of an excessively large student body is daunting to me in that it’s typically harder to get to know others (in my experience), but that wasn’t a problem at this particular institution.” Knowing how important community is both to the college experience and Korean culture, our staff seeks to create opportunities to help develop a strong and loving Biblical community on campus. Ana further commented, “as soon as the year started I felt the high priority this school places on forming a community. Whether it be through building relationships in the dorm, class discussions, student outings or devotions, the tight knit fellowship between both staff and students is a phenomenon I haven’t seen or experienced anywhere else.”
Working closely with the students gives the staff the opportunity to see God work in all their lives throughout the year. Right now God is teaching them the meaning of community. There is a sharp contrast between the interaction they had as students when they first stepped foot on campus in September to now where you can hear them laughing and enjoying fellowship with each other all around campus. “Everyone will often come together to share a meal (not an official one) and chat and share food. It’s a great time to fellowship, share and talk. And there’s food”, Nate commented. When people walk together through experiences, whether ministry or academic related, they have the opportunity to grow closer. The class of 2017 definitely has. The students have the common bond of journeying through this year together but also have the bond as the body of Christ, which deepens their friendships.
Each week the students are connecting with each other in different ways. A few weeks ago it was laughter from the library while trying to write their Old Testament research papers. Then it was overhearing laughter from exchanging stories of the trip some students took into Jeju City. This week it was a group of students getting together to go sledding and have a snowball fight. “It feels like a family at this point and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be part of this community” Ana explained.
As a graduate of WOLBI myself, I cherish the community I was surrounded by during my two years studying the Bible. My dear friends from the Bible Institute are to this day my biggest cheerleaders in life. Their investment in my relationship with God had a big impact on the direction of my life and continues to impact my ministry here on Jeju.
These friendships at WOLBI Jeju will last a lifetime. Whether they go into ministry or work in a specific field, the students will go forth in life with the godly and loving support of these friends cheering them on each step of the way.