by Evan Roberts
Recently, we got the chance to sit down with Tyler “The Beast” Tomasino, the work crew director at the Woods in 2018 and a Forge alumnus. As he ate his breakfast, Tyler told us about his experience with the Forge program this past year and how it has impacted his life.
“I was expecting the Forge to be like a Christian boot camp, really disciplined and strict. I thought it was going to be hard—a lot more challenging than fun,” Tyler said, recalling his thoughts before he started at the Forge. “But really, it felt more similar to college than camp. The things I did were enjoyable. Actually, it was the most fun I’ve ever had. It was an unforgettable experience, and sharing the experience with others made it even better.”
When asked how the program impacted him spiritually, Tyler thought quietly for a moment and replied, “The Forge grew me by softening my heart and deepening my understanding of grace. I was put with people that were different than me, people that I might not have ever been close with if not for the program. They might have been different than me, but I have never had a group of people care about me more than those who went through the Forge with me.”
On the topic of classes, Tyler said that the Forge covered a wide variety of topics. Off the top of his head, he listed theology, leadership, management, and general life skills. “The Forge education system is different than normal schools,” he explained. “It shifted the focus from grades and trying to prove yourself to be smart to focusing on the process or journey of learning.”
In between bites of an omelet, Tyler explained that the Forge prepared him for leadership roles, saying, “Leadership is all about relationships. The relationships around you help you learn how to interact with other people, and that in turn allows you to know each other better and on a deeper level.”
Tyler believes that his relationship with the Lord has become a lot more interactive. “I learned about some areas in my spiritual life that need improvement while going through the Forge. I’ve been a lot more active in my faith since. I learned to trust the Lord more, how to grow better and grow more.”
At one point in the program, the Forge goes on a study tour of Israel. Tyler was quick to highlight this trip and the impact it had on him. “In a sense, it made everything I believe about the Bible a reality. It made things tangible. Getting to experience it with my own senses was incredible. Israel showed me how God works in creation, and how to enjoy everything God made with those around you.”
“The hardest part of the Forge…” he paused. “I think it’s seeing yourself for who you truly are. You’re broken, and learning to accept grace and find it in Christ can be difficult.”
Tyler went through the Forge with 28 fellow students. We asked him what the community was like.
“It was probably the 28 most different people that you could have in a class. We challenged each other, tested each other, and rubbed each other the wrong way. But we also loved each other fully. They poured love into me. I could honestly call on any of them to help me and they would be there. The people I went through the Forge with are some of my closest friends ever.”
Reflecting on how those friends around him changed throughout the program, Tyler said, “I saw people seeing themselves as broken, but moving past that to receive grace. We were all squeezed heavily, and normally people get testy in those situations. We decided to run toward one another instead.”
Jeremiah 6:16 is one of many passages that shaped Tyler during the Forge.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
Tyler remarked, “When I read that, I realized that I have a lot to learn. The ‘ancient paths’ are the best ways to go. In the modern world it seems like we only want new ways and success is in finding new pathways, but it’s clear here that the answer is going back. You can’t find your own way.”
Since Tyler’s time in the Forge, he has noticed a difference in working for Pine Cove. “I found more confidence and realized that the position God puts me in is a blessing that I should be thankful for.”
For anyone considering applying for the Forge in the future, Tyler has this advice: “Let go of comfort and convenience. Lay aside your agenda, your goals. Take every moment to invest in your fellow Forge students. The sweetest times were when I spent time with other people in the program.”
Learn more about The Forge on our website.
Posted Aug 21, 2018