In what ways has Cambridge formed me?
By Cambridge Alum Joey Jekel
Hello, my name is Joey Jekel. I graduated from Cambridge in 2014, at which point I headed to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. I came to study English Creative Writing, Philosophy, and Classical Studies there, graduating in May of 2018. Now, I work for Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at the University of Alabama.
I wanted to reflect on the question: in what ways has Cambridge formed me?
The first thought that comes to mind in seeking to answer this question regards my faith in God. I became a Christian at Cambridge. I grew up in a loving, Christian household, and had always attended a private Christian school, even before arriving at Cambridge in 7th grade. Nevertheless, the truth that I need Jesus did not dwell in me. I disciplined myself in reading Scripture and praying, not because I knew I needed the person of Jesus Christ, but because I thought it was right and dutiful. To be sure, these practices are right and dutiful, but not merely so. The practices of the Christian faith are not enough, and I did not come to understand this until my Senior year. At Cambridge, God used Scripture, worship, mentors (Christopher Benson and Blake Schwarz), literature, past sins, and mental disorders in order to bring me to Himself. There is more here than I can explain, but I do know that God placed me in the community of Cambridge in order to call me to Himself. I certainly doubt I would have become an RUF Intern, if I had not been formed in this way at Cambridge.
Secondly, I believe that Cambridge has both defined and encouraged a life of thinking for me. Much of my experience of academia outside of Christianity has been a blessing to me. Nevertheless, it has proved empty in being too full of itself. Thinking for thinking’s sake is idolatrous and without meaning. Cambridge has provided me with a different view of the intellectual life. “Loving God with the mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things,” John Piper writes in his book, Think. Cambridge provided me with the true and meaningful purpose of education, learning, and thinking: God Himself. Heading off to college, my academic life made sense only because it was pointing to the God of all creation. I don’t think that I would want to go back to education as an English teacher if it weren’t for this intellectual cultivation.
Lastly, Cambridge gave me a vision of community that I had not experienced before. As I said above, Cambridge guided me to the truth that I need Jesus. Yet, I also came to understand that I need other people as well. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in Life Together, “We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity.”
What I learned about community in high school brought me to RUF and to Christ Community Church, communities in Fayetteville that made me see Christ more clearly. Cambridge allowed me to see “how far / more nearly home we are when joined,” in the words of contemporary poet Scott Cairns. Within the community of Cambridge, God revealed to me how close we are to home when we are together. When I am in Christ and with other Christians, I am more nearly home than I ever will be this side of paradise. I would not want to assist in church planting in the PCA if it were not for these experiences of community at Cambridge.
These are merely the main ways in which Cambridge has formed me as a human being; it has developed me in countless other ways, both large and small. I thank the Lord for bringing me to The Cambridge School of Dallas.