Student returns to GA camp as missionary leader

During missions time at GA Camp, Katrina Brown invites each of the girls to try to carry a jug of water on her head, as African women do. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Brown)

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FLOYDADA—When Katrina Brown recently told Girls in Action campers at Plains Baptist Camp about her missionary experiences in Kenya, it represented both a dream come true and a homecoming.

Katrina, who will begin her senior year at Lubbock Christian University in the fall, first attended GA Camp in that same location before she technically was eligible to participate.

When Katrina was a preschooler, her grandmother, Ruth James, was a Woman’s Missionary Union leader at Calvary Baptist Church in Brownfield. She always led the craft time at GA Camp and directed the entire camp several years.

Katrina’s mother, Jeanne Brown, attended GA camp as a sponsor from their church when Katrina’s older sister Alex participated as a camper.

“So, I went along with Meemaw and helped her with crafts,” Katrina said.

Missions legacy

Jeanne Brown noted her mother always had instilled a commitment to missions in each of her six children, and her family grew up praying for her mom’s brother, who was a missionary to Kenya.

Katrina Brown teaches GAs about missions at the same camp she attended as a child. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Brown)

Once Katrina was old enough to join the GA group at her church, she looked forward to camp every summer. Her favorite part was spending time with missionaries who talked about their personal experiences serving around the world.

“As a camper, I learned about how people in other cultures live and how to love people in those cultures. It was just incredible,” she said. “That’s where I fell in love with missions.”

In 2013, she had her first overseas experience when she and her mother traveled to Zambia on a church-sponsored mission trip.

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“At age 15, it was my chance to see another culture on the other side of the world for the first time, and it was beautiful to me,” she said. “It opened my eyes to the world. It was life-changing for me.

“I began thinking about everything I had learned from missionaries at GA camp all those years. That’s when I realized I had the potential to become one of those people.”

Katrina’s older sister, Alex, was killed at age 17 in a wreck. However, her mother recalls fondly that Alex was able to participate in a mission trip to Mexico as a young teenager.

“We wanted our girls to see life outside of Terry County. We wanted them to experience other cultures,” Jeanne Brown said.

Serving in Kenya

At Lubbock Christian University, Katrina has worked in the missions department with Director Jim Beck, who divides his time between Lubbock and Kenya. For the past 10 years, Beck has spent about half of his time working with the Giryama people on Kenya’s eastern coast.

Katrina Brown teaches girls at GA Camp about her missions experience in Kenya. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Brown)

Last summer, Katrina completed a six-week internship with Beck in Malindi, Kenya—the same location where her uncle and aunt, Clay and Pat Coursey, served for decades as missionaries. In Malindi, Katrina visited one of the churches they started.

In Kenya, Katrina observed and worked with a local church, a school, a ministry that focuses on home-based orphan care and a program that seeks to empower women by teaching them how to build small businesses.

“My favorite was Marhenzo, a primary and secondary school,” she said. “I was able to spend time with the secondary school students. I spent hours interviewing members of the senior class. It meant so much to them that an American wanted to hear their stories.”

Return to GA Camp

For several years, Katrina has continued to attend GA Camp at Floydada as a junior leader, helping her mother by taking photos and video of activities.

This year, Katrina was invited to be a camp missionary, leading missions education times with the campers.

“I tried to make it a multi-sensory experience,” she said.

She invited each of the girls to try to carry a jug of water on her head, as African women do, and to taste a Kenyan dish. The group listened and watched a video of Kenyan children singing gospel songs.

“I talked about the importance of being humble and willing to learn from other cultures,” she said.

One year earlier, before Katrina left for Kenya, the girls at GA Camp had prayed for her and for another woman who was planning to participate in a mission trip to Hungary.

“Katrina asked the girls (this summer): ‘How many of you were at camp last year? Do you remember praying over two missionaries? I was one of them,’” her mother said. “That made an impact on the girls.”

Precious memories

GA camp brought back sweet memories of “what an incredible supporter of missions Meemaw was,” Katrina said.

Her grandmother continued to work at GA Camp and lead WMU until just a few years ago, when she had a stroke. After that, she looked forward to hearing reports from GA Camp from Katrina and her mother. Her grandmother died earlier this year.

“It was incredible for me to be able to sit in the same room where I had listened to missionaries and be the one teaching campers about missions,” she said. “It was like a dream come true for me.”

In the future, Katrina hopes to help her boyfriend, Caleb, who is preparing to become a youth minister, by leading students in short-term missions experiences.

After she graduates, she wants to teach English in an inner-city high school.

“I hope I can address the systems of poverty, working outside the school with students in the communities where they live,” she said.

Jeanne Brown believes God will continue to use her daughter in a special way, she noted.

“And it’s all because of what Mom taught me,” she said.

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