From musical theatre to biblical counseling to her new role as Leavell College Director of College Life, Rebekah Callahan has found “community” to be a common thread throughout each season of her life.
Building community is Callahan’s goal as she directs Leavell College’s House System, a new initiative that is engaging Leavell College students in discipleship, missions, fellowship, as well as activities that are “just plain fun,” Callahan said.
“I want to see students leave Leavell College with lifelong friendships and ministry partnerships and a deep love for Jesus, His church, and the community around them,” Callahan said. “I want them to love where they are and who they are around.”
Through the House System—house (life and community groups) named for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lottie Moon, and Jim and Elisabeth Elliott—students share life at a deeper level and put what they learn in class into mission action. Patterned after the college systems of Oxford and Cambridge, the House System enhances the student experience spiritually and communally.
For Callahan, the importance of community first became apparent in college when as a music theatre major she watched stage productions move from opening auditions to closing night. The process drew cast and crew into a tight-knit community, something the house system will do as well, Callahan said.
“Both the house system and theatre build community – that’s what they have in common,” Callahan said. The House System allows students to “work out and walk out” what they learn in class and apply it to mission action in the city, she explained.
Callahan said Leavell College students have “servant-hearts” and that she appreciates the NOBTS/Leavell College slogan of “Prepare Here. Serve Anywhere.”
“I want that to be true for House students, that they really will feel prepared and ready to go wherever the Lord calls them,” Callahan said.
Callahan and her husband Chris moved to NOBTS recently from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she worked to enrich college life there. Callahan earned a masters in biblical counseling at SEBTS and continues pursuing an Ed.D. there.
Callahan’s studies in counseling reinforced to her the importance of feeling part of a community. Though the path through musical theatre, counseling, and working with college students may seem unusual to some, Callahan sees God’s hand at every turn.
“God has woven these together in a way that I get to do everything I love, which is build community, and have a fun time in the process,” Callahan said.
God wastes no season of life, Callahan added, and pointed to the loss not long ago of a tiny niece born with Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder. As a community of believers rallied around Callahan and her family, their support came in sharp contrast to a time during college when Callahan faced grief alone. The contrasting moments underscored for Callahan the value of every life and the importance of community.
“That time [of grief] is one reason I’m just so passionate about people feeling wanted and welcomed,” Callahan said. “That is part of what the House System can do.”
For Callahan, the future looks bright as the House System moves forward to disciple students, build community, and develop students’ talents in the creative arts, music, and story-telling. Every activity, Callahan said, keeps a clear mission and objective in view—helping students answer God’s call wherever that may lead.