Hebrews 11 lists a number of biblical characters who were commended for their faith. And in Hebrews 12, the author reveals that the purpose for publishing these short narratives was for our encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
Likewise, the Eastern Christian community is comprised of countless individuals past and present who have walked by faith, upheld by the promises of God. And so this spring over social media, Eastern Christian School asked our community to tell us about these individuals: the specific people in our midst who inspire others, encourage others, and support others along their journey. Following in this blog series are the results, and the stories of just a few of the people in our great cloud of witnesses.
“Chela is a kind person and treats students of all ages with love and respect. My elementary students look up to her as a leader. They admire her friendly personality.” – First nominating quote
“Chela leads and mentors her fellow ABIDE students with grace and courage. Younger students look up to her and she inspires me.” – Second nominating quote
Sometimes, events that occur nationally profoundly affect us personally. This was the case for Chela Owour, graduating senior and Kenyan ex-patriate, as she grappled with the death and aftermath of George Floyd—a man whose skin color looked like hers. Owour, a self-described deep thinker, saw this event as a catalyst that fueled her personal passion to embrace diversity and teach others to do the same in her sphere of influence.
“I realized [the issue of diversity and inequality] was important to individuals of color. And in order to help the community, we have to heal the wounds and forgive because it is important to not do anything in anger,” she says.
Owour is a leader in many ways at Eastern Christian, serving as National Honor Society Secretary, in student council and as a leader in the classroom. But most importantly to her, she is also a founding member of ABIDE, a group that seeks to “heal together” and celebrate culture. Reflecting on her own journey moving to the United States and desiring to find belongingness while struggling with loneliness, she shares, “One thing people of color struggle with [in a primarily white environment] is not hearing stories that celebrate our cultures.” She adds, “All the things we have done, as far as bulletin boards and events to celebrate various cultures, heritages and backgrounds, have uplifted people who felt like they didn’t belong. It is a way to say that you are part of this community and we see everything you bring to the table.”
In addition to diversity, Owour is also passionate about environmental sustainability. In the fall, she heads to LIM College to study fashion merchandising. Already fluent in three languages and working on a fourth, Owour credits four teachers with pushing her further in pursuit of the global values of loving and serving God and neighbor. Specifically, she appreciates teachers Marci Roniet, Leah Genuario, Melissa Troast and Esther Kim who helped challenge her “to think of the world outside of who we are and really teach us with their full potential.”
Enjoying this blog series? Read more stories in the fall edition of The Herald, publishing late August 2022.
Would you like to celebrate another member of the EC community for being an inspiration? Send your nominations to Herald@easternchristian.org and we may feature your nominating quotes in our final Cloud of Witnesses blog. EC reserves the right to edit/omit submissions.