"Coram Deo also has emphasized shaping culture for the glory of God. One way this is accomplished is through History classes that teach the story of cultures with their distinctive characteristics. While I was on my trip to Kenya, my studies of African culture in World History and Art History enabled me to better serve the Kenyans and appreciate their beautiful culture."
Hello! My name is Rebekah Hamm, and I am a senior at the Flower Mound campus. This summer I had the amazing opportunity to serve as a counselor at Camp Blessing and go on a mission trip to Kenya with my family.
Dr. Seuss once wrote “to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” We often want to make a huge change in the lives of hundreds of people. However, sometimes God calls us to make a change in the lives of a few, or maybe even just one person. This is what I had the opportunity to be a part of this summer.
Camp Blessing serves campers with special needs by providing a place of “love, acceptance, and fun.” Camp Blessing simulates a real camp experience by creating accommodations for a variety of disabilities and pairing campers one-on-one with counselors. Most counselors go to Camp Blessing thinking that they will help their special needs camper. This is true, yet I have found that the campers end up being an even bigger blessing to the counselors! Camp Blessing will always be one of my favorite places, not just because everyone is accepted for who they are, but because God is the cornerstone of all aspects of camp.
A couple weeks after I came home from Camp Blessing, my family traveled to Kenya. We visited our friends who are missionaries there, and we had the privilege of serving alongside their church, Rift Valley Fellowship. We helped with some construction projects, delivered food to needy families, and spent time with the children they have rescued from the streets. We also got to spend time at Naomi’s Village, an orphanage which has rescued and adopted 84 children, and Wells of Joy, a ministry in the Slums of Nairobi. I also had the privilege of observing different schools and learning centers, which was special for me because I want to be a teacher one day.
Camp Blessing and Kenya impacted my life in many ways, but one of the things that stood out the most to me was how much I share in common with the people I interacted with. At Camp Blessing, the campers with special needs have very different lives than I do. However, what I realized when serving these kids is all the things we doshare in common. We go to school, participate in activities, have families and friends. We laugh, sing, dance and cry. In Kenya, we had the opportunity to interact with street boys and girls around our age. I remember sitting in a circle with a group of boys around my brother's ages, listening to them having conversations very similar to what my brothers would talk about at home. The boys wanted to talk about sports, the World Cup, their favorite music, and what they wanted to be when they grow up. We walked away feeling like we had so much in common with these Kenyan street boys.
I was able to have these amazing experiences partly because Coram Deo Academy has been very influential in equipping me for these opportunities. Our mission statement claims: “We strive to train the next generation of ethical servant-leaders and wise thinkers who will shape culture for the glory of God.” Servant Leadership can be difficult because many Christians want to do one or the other. Either they do a great job of being a servant, but not feeling enabled to lead, or they feel called to lead, but want to let other people “get their hands dirty” serving others. Coram Deo, through the many service and leadership opportunities, creates an environment in which students get to practice both servanthood and leadership. On both of my trips this summer, there were times when I was called upon to play a background role and serve behind the scenes, and times when I had to step up when a leader was needed.
Besides teaching servant leadership, Coram Deo also has emphasized shaping culture for the glory of God. One way this is accomplished is through History classes that teach the story of cultures with their distinctive characteristics. While I was on my trip to Kenya, my studies of African culture in World History and Art History enabled me to better serve the Kenyans and appreciate their beautiful culture.
I think that serving others, both locally and internationally, is so important because it takes our eyes off ourselves and onto the mission of God. Often, we either fall into pride, thinking that we are greater that we really are, or we slip into focusing on all the ways we are imperfect. Neither leads to the joy that God has called us into. Rick Warren states, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” When we “forget” about what we want or think we deserve, and instead focus on others, we have so much more joy.
As I reflect on the amazing opportunities I have had this summer to serve others, I feel so blessed to be surrounded by a family who loves me, as well as the family of Coram Deo Academy. I am so thankful for the ways they both have prepared me to be a servant leader. I would encourage anyone who wants to serve others that it is not necessary to leave their city, neighborhood, or house to be a servant. Service is not something that one does at camp or on a trip during the summer, but a way of life that follows in the footsteps of Jesus.