Sycamore Award Acceptance Speech

Last week I was given the Sycamore Award.

This award comes from the story of Zacheas in the Bible, who climbed a sycamore tree to get a better look at Jesus over a crowd.  This award is given to community members by Rochester Church of Christ for helping folks see Jesus better.  Someone asked that I put up my acceptance speech so they could see it later, so here it is.

[Giving the introduction and presenting the award was Bert Bryan.  He is an elder at Rochester Church, a member of the Board of Directors at Micah 6 Community and a dear friend and mentor.]

[Earlier that evening other winners included John and Sara Barton for their work with KIBO group and their service to Rochester College. Also presented was Lisa Cain and family for their work in creating God’s Helping Hands. Additionally awarded were Lynn Stewart for 35 years of teaching the toddler class and Joey Kessler for many years of devoted service to that church.]

Thank you for this award.  I feel a little ridiculous getting it though.  John and Sara founded a mission effort that is changing Uganda and has been impacting lives for almost 20 years.  The Cains have built an organization out of a warehouse that is changing lives and helping folks out all over Southeast Michigan.  Me?  I haven’t done anything yet.  This feels a little bit like Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.  It’s like the committee saying, “We expect you to do great things, so here’s this award in advance.”  I hope that in the years to come you’re more satisfied with your decision than the Nobel committee is with theirs.

A few years ago Jenny and I were placing membership here and we heard about the Sycamore Awards and I leaned over and said, “I hope that one day I am the kind of guy that people look to and say, “He’s helped me see Jesus better.”

A few weeks ago, Karen Owen sent me an email letting me know that I was receiving this award and I said, “Oh, okay, just make it out to “Micah 6 Community’” and she told me that they couldn’t do that because the awards are for individuals, not organizations.  That made me uncomfortable.

It makes me uncomfortable because I can look to my group, my team, and say “Yes, we’ve done great things this year and I feel like we are helping people to see Jesus better.”  It is easy to see that from Micah 6 Community.  It is not, however, easy to see that from myself.  This leads me to believe one thing: The folks voting must not know me very well.

This has been a hard year.  I’ve made some awful decisions, hurt people, said things I shouldn’t’ve, done things I regret. So it is uncomfortable to get this award.  So, instead, I am going to accept this on behalf of Micah 6 and the folks who helped us get here.

So, first I want to thank the people who helped me out when I got here.  Jenny helped me eat when I was making next to nothing and could afford even less.  James Zerelli, let me live in his basement for a year while I was trying to get on my feet. This doesn’t happen without him.

Thanks to Jenny who was my early sound board when this thing was coming together.  She helped me keep my dreams realistic and was a constant reminder of how much progress we were making. This doesn’t get going without her.

Thanks to my team: Dylan, Kim, Blake who left today, Sean.  These guys are making Micah 6 a reality and doing great work in our neighborhood.  Without them, this award doesn’t happen.

Thanks to great mentors.  Bert Bryan, Adam Hill, the Bowers, Chris Shields, Candace Cain.  They are all great mentors for me and have been there when I needed to vent and needed advice and guidance.

I want to take a minute and thank the Bartons for their amazing lives and work with KIBO over the years.  It was the example of KIBO, show to us through Jimmy and Angela Shaw as well as Dr Cox and Bobby and Candace Gardner that really was a big part in inspiring Dylan and I.  It is no mystery that KIBO was an early example of a group stepping out, living in a culture and just getting a feel for the issues surrounding that culture and seeing how they can step in, like Christ, and see what they can do to help.  That’s all that Micah 6 Community has done and it is because that is the model we learned from KIBO.  So, without you guys I don’t know if there is a Micah 6.

I am also excited about the next generation of Micah 6.  Folks who, only in the past year or so have really presented themselves as future members of the work there: Sean and Breanna, Kelly, Maria, Matt Burrows.  These guys are coming along at a great time for ministry in the neighborhood.

Thanks to this church family.  You’ve been amazing to us and have been a wonderful support for us and our work.  We look forward to the coming years.  Thanks to the Missions Committee for believing in what we do.  Thanks for Karen Owen and Betty Dunlap for putting up with my late checks, last minute emails and such.



About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: Flickr:

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