Gavin the Great!

April 9, 2024


On MacDill Air Force Base, like many other military installations, April is filled with purple parades, parties, and celebrations to honor the kind of kid closest to my heart, the military child. The term BRAT is what we affectionately call these kids, as they are Born Resilient And Tough. I see these traits in many of the teens that come to Campus Life Military MacDill, but one teenager not only exemplifies the BRAT badge, but also demonstrates what having a heart for Jesus looks like.

Over the last two years, I’ve watched Gavin mature from a quiet kid to a kind and gentle young man. Gavin is an athlete. From his first time at Club, he jumped into the games and can never quite get enough. This guy is competitive but always displays the highest level of humility and sportsmanship. When playing games with some of our younger students, he ensures they get a chance with the ball, noodle, or octopus (!) – at times, to the detriment of his own team. He wants to make sure everyone feels included and important.

Gavin is a servant. Since starting Campus Life Military MacDill in September 2022, I have never once seen him pass on the opportunity to help. Whether bringing out food, cleaning up after a game, putting away tables and chairs, or sweeping up, you can always find Gavin stepping in with mundane tasks while encouraging others to step up too. He’s always the last to leave after checking to see if there is anything else I need help with.

Gavin is also a shepherd and a teacher. He wants to ensure everyone feels like they belong at Campus Life Military. When a new student arrives, Gavin often pulls up a chair beside them. He welcomes them and gets to know their story.

When the younger students look like they are being left out, Gavin will sit down with them and start participating in whatever they are doing. If another kid is having trouble with a task, he will take the time to show them how they might do it better. In discussion groups, Gavin likes to explore biblical messages and illustrate more abstract concepts to make them easier for his peers to understand.

Gavin cares deeply. He loves his family, and everyone knows their importance to him. He prays for his friends and talks to them openly when they are going through challenging situations.

He even cares for his leaders. He once checked on me when he heard I was sick, and has texted me every holiday with well wishes. He often texts his leader from camp, Mr. Chris, to check on him and say hello.

For Month of the Military Child, I wanted to take the opportunity to hype up Gavin. As a military-connected youth, he faces the same struggles as other teens like him, but his Christ-like nature sets him apart. His unwavering dedication to Jesus, his family, and his friends deserves recognition. So, when you “Purple-Up” for military kids in April, think of Gavin and thank God for his influence here at MacDill.

Article by Kristi Harrison-Coffey, Ministry Site Director, MacDill AFB