University of Mobile’s RamCorps and Welsh Revival instrumental ensembles experienced the beginning of a new year in a new world during winter break, allowing children in Jamaica to experience a new world, too.
RamCorps, led by Kenn Hughes, and Welsh Revival, directed by Steve Dunn, both assistant professors of music in the UMobile Center for Performing Arts
, traveled to Jamaica during the New Year holiday to share their love for Christ and for the music that He inspires in them.
RamCorps has a tradition of serving others in face-to-face environments, and their trip to Jamaica was no different. Although they led the local church in music-based worship, RamCorps and Welsh Revival removed themselves from the stage and made Jamaican citizens the stars of their trip.
“The City of Montego Bay and the surrounding areas are hungry for something that will last, something eternal,” said RamCorps trumpeter Ben Stith, junior math major from Birmingham, AL. “The area is desperate for people to take a stand for honesty, integrity, love, and Christ.”
RamCorps did, and their endeavor began before they left American ground.
“In August, RamCorps began meeting every Monday to pray and prepare our hearts for Jamaica,” said Ryan Schoch, junior worship leadership major from Warner Robbins, GA. The early start for RamCorps signified that they were serious about the aid they could provide to Jamaica, an attitude not uncommon for University of Mobile students.
“My goals for the trip were to draw nearer to God and to serve,” said Leslie Ann Godwin, junior music education and vocal performance major from Pensacola, FL. “Each day, I felt a strong dependence on God.”
After arriving in Jamaica, the students were eager to work, but were unsure of the tasks at hand. “I did not expect any physical work to be involved. I thought it was going to be just performances,” said David Haney, sophomore sociology major from Semmes, AL. The value and necessity of physical aid was not lost with the students, however.
“I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s presence,” continued Godwin. “Not only in the music, and taking it to a foreign country, but also in serving others and investing in the lives of the people there.”
To help the community, the students mixed and poured concrete, painted, and cleaned the local church, reestablishing a home in which the citizens could worship. They ensured that relationships were built with the citizens by dancing and singing with them, and even showing them how the instruments worked. They also played alongside a local youth band, sharing with them in worship and celebration.
Many members of RamCorps chose to be baptized as a sign of a rededication to the purpose that God has for their lives.
“I waded into the water and got baptized again as a declaration to the Lord that I surrender to Him,” said Loni Taylor, freshman music education major from Jacksonville, FL. She added, “God didn’t work on us just as individuals, but as a community.”
RamCorps accomplished their goals to change the lives of the Jamaican citizens because they worked as a team, a mentality promoted widely at UMobile.
The team mentality is reflected in the way RamCorps operates, as explained by Hughes, who is the director of instrumental studies, Jazz Band and RamCorps at the Christian university.
“RamCorps brings together 25 brass and percussion musicians in a unique explosion of music and theater. It is an intense, choreographed musical experience achieving high levels of excellence in performance,” Hughes said.
Their discipline and dedication learned through diligent practice and choreography allowed RamCorps to change lives to change the world, he said.
“Our purpose was to glorify God by serving Westgate Hills Baptist Church and invest into the lives of Jamaicans in Montego Bay,” said Hughes. “Eight Jamaicans that we know of prayed to receive Christ.”
They are not unaccustomed to lifting others’ interests above their own to change lives. The 25 members of RamCorps, five members of Welsh Revival, and Hughes will perform approximately 80 concerts this academic year, an incredible number of shows for students who must also attend class and submit homework. Yet, the students under Hughes were focused on their most important goals.
“Lives were changed,” said RamCorps member Jayme Snellgrove, 2012 graduate and biology major from Headland, AL. “The most exciting part of this whole process is that it is not finished.”
The members of RamCorps are:
Hunter Ballard, freshman computer information systems major from Wilmer, AL.
Brittany Berryman, sophomore music education from Niceville, FL.
John Calcote, junior music education from Brookhaven, MS.
Jacob Carver, junior worship leadership from Gordo, AL.
Jessica Catlin, senior political science/criminal justice from Sylvan Springs, AL.
Alex Cherry, sophomore worship leadership/music business from Semmes, AL.
Matthew Dempsey, junior worship leadership from Louisville, MS.
Nathan Dodd, sophomore worship leadership from Moody, AL.
Miranda Freeman, freshman music education from Lucedale, MS
David Haney, sophomore sociology/criminal justice from Semmes, AL.
Joshua Holley, freshman theology major from Silverhill, AL.
Harrison Hughes, junior music education from Nashville, TN.
Christopher James, sophomore business/managerial from Pensacola, FL.
Kory Van Matre, junior worship leadership/music business from Foley, AL.
Mark Meadows, senior music education from Valley, AL.
Jesus Morales, freshman music education from Haines City, FL.
Ashton Nall, junior finance/MBA from Seguin, TX.
Christina Pierre, sophomore intercultural studies from Pensacola, FL.
Joleigh Pigott, sophomore music education from Hattiesburg, MS.
Megan Ramsey, senior worship leadership from Theodore, AL.
Ryan Schoch, junior worship leadership from Warner Robins, GA.
Kayleigh Smith, sophomore computer information systems/MBA from Axis, AL.
Jayme Snellgrove, biology major from Hedlund, AL.
Zack Steele, junior psychology from Jasper, AL.
Ben Stith, junior mathematics major from Helena, AL.
Michelle Tew, junior math education from Wilmer, AL.
The members of Welsh Revival are:
Katherine Chen, junior from Pensacola, FL.
Leslie Ann Godwin, junior from Pensacola, FL.
Jennifer Gonzalez, junior from Ocala, FL.
Tinsley Griffin, freshman from Savannah, GA.
Lauren Kirkland, junior from Brewton, AL.
Christine Lewis, junior from Leeds, AL.
Joleigh Pigott, sophomore from Hattiesburg, MS.
Loni Taylor, freshman from Jacksonville, FL.
For more information about the University of Mobile, visit www.umobile.edu
or call Enrollment Services at 251-442-2222 or 800-WIN-RAMS.
To become a part of the phenomenal RamCorps team and directly change the lives of others, prospective students may visit www.umobile.edu/audition.
To support RamCorps, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/umramcorps
. To schedule a performance by RamCorps, contact 251-442-2321 or email RamCorps@umobile.edu
(Article by Will Drake, media relations writer in the University of Mobile Media Relations Office and junior majoring in English and humanities from Cullman, AL. Photos by Harrison Hughes, junior music education major from Nashville.)
John Calcote and Jessica Catlin hold Jamaican
children while meeting the families in the
Zack Steele enjoys fellowship with Jamaican children as they run a race.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also
lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with
endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
Christina Pierre holds a Jamaican child
as he watches RamCorps perform.
RamCorps team photo
Hunter Ballard teaches Jamaican children to
play his tenor drums.
Josh Holley shares a passage of
scripture with Jamaican youth.The
RamCorps students provided
spiritual and physical help to
Jamaican citizens during their trip.
Construction team poses for photo.
University of Mobile RamCorps leads a parade through a Jamaican neighborhood.