ATLANTIC CITY — Actor Kirk Cameron, the teenage heart-throb Mike Seaver from the '80s hit show “Growing Pains” and star of the "Left Behind" series, "Fireproof," and dozens of other TV shows and movies, was the keynote speaker at Atlantic Christian School’s sixth annual Legacy Gala on Friday, March 29, at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel in Atlantic City.
Atlantic Christian Chief School Administrator Karen Oblen, joined by several students on stage, presented Cameron with an original painting by 12th gradeer Rebekah Darragh, of Egg Harbor Township, with a plaque congratulating him for his exemplary legacy of faith and service over the past 34 years.
“Mr. Cameron has lived his life with a focused and resolute commitment to serving God with the gifts and abilities he has been given,” Oblen said. “Our school family and friends in the community have been inspired and encouraged by his faith story and his passion for spiritual revival in our country.”
The painting given to Cameron depicts three young people seated around a campfire in a forest setting with the Bible verse from Matthew 18:20 written in script above: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Twelfth-grader Solomon Griffith of Ocean City, who introduced Cameron during the gala, said the painting was inspired by Cameron’s important ministry with Camp Firefly, an all-expenses-paid summer camp in Georgia for terminally ill children and their families.
During his remarks to nearly 300 guests at the gala, Cameron shared the experiences that led to his conversion from being an atheist to accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior at the age 17, during the height of his fame on “Growing Pains.”
“I can tell you that of all the things I’ve ever done in my life, of all the people that I’ve met, all the cool places that I’ve been, that there’s nothing in the world that is more important today than the joy of knowing Christ and of being in a right relationship with my maker,” Cameron said. In addition to sharing his Christian testimony at the gala, Cameron said he enjoyed having the opportunity to worship with and speak to Atlantic Christian students at their sixth- to 12th-grade chapel earlier that afternoon.
“If I lived here, this is the kind of school that I would put my kids in,” said Cameron, who has six children, three of whom are teenagers.
Over the years, Cameron’s faith has inspired him to be involved in documentaries and movies that have given hope and inspiration, shared the message of the gospel and even provided a historical perspective on the important contributions of the Pilgrims to America, as told in his film “Monumental.”
Cameron spoke passionately about the focus of that film, a little-known, 81-foot-high granite monument located in Massachusetts near Plymouth Rock, known as the “National Monument to the Forefathers.” He described the Pilgrims as “out of the box, free-thinking, trail-blazing Christians” and that their legacy as depicted in the national monument provides the “secret sauce” or roadmap for helping America return to its Biblical, faith-based foundation for morals, laws and education.
“One part of this monument shows that when you educate your children with a Biblical worldview, the product will be liberty and freedom,” Cameron said.
Cameron had 500 replica statues made of the monument and presented Oblen with one of them, thanking her “for your devotion and your passion for educating the next generation.”
Cameron said he has also given the monument replica statue, which stands 14 inches high, to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other school principals, pastors and people across America involved in shaping hearts and minds.
In addition to Cameron’s keynote address, the gala program included oral and musical presentations by ACS students. Board Chair Doug Pearson announced the 2019 Servant's Heart Award recipients. Twelfth-grader Caraline Winkel, of Egg Harbor Township, opened the gala program with prayer. The Take Note high school vocal ensemble, led by choral and instrumental music director Jaron Beadle, gave an uplifting performance of Lauren Daigle’s "Love Like This” and "Better Is One Day" by Matt Redman.
The ensemble recently had the memorable experience of performing at Daigle’s sold-out concert in Carnegie Hall as part of a select choir. The ensemble members were Elizabeth Alford, of Egg Harbor Township; Asher Dawkins of Somers Point; Emily Elgersma, of Cape May Court House; Amy (Hyewon) Ki, of Galloway Township; Rebekah Kimmerley, of Egg Harbor Township; Shermia Liggins, of Mays Landing; Ashleigh Martin, of Mays Landing; Ayolola Oguntuase, of Egg Harbor Township; Sydney Pearson, of Egg Harbor Township; and Imohimi Unuigbe, of Egg Harbor Township.
Seniors Rebekah Darragh and Julia (Jia Wei) Wong presented their winning essays that described a platform, gift, or ability that God has given them to use to impact others for Christ. Rebekah spoke about her abilities as an artist and her career goal to bless others through the field of art therapy. Julia, an international student from Malaysia who resides with a host family in Sea Isle City, talked about how her fluency in different languages, including Malaysian, Mandarin and English, has given her opportunities to share her faith with others.