Married with three kids and at the peak of his professional baseball career, star pitcher Cole Hamels seems to have it all.
Starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers for the past few years, he was traded this past summer to the recent 2016 World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs.
But his extreme generosity towards a group of special needs kids is what is truly inspiring about his story.
Cole Hamels and his wife Heidi donated their $10 million mansion to Camp Barnabas, a Christian summer camp program for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
The 32,000-square-foot mansion sits on 104.7 acres of land and includes 1,700 feet of shoreline along Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, the perfect site for setting up a Christian summer camp.
According to the Camp Barnabas website:
“Camp Barnabas is a unique ministry providing Christian camping experiences to people with special needs and chronic illnesses, along with their siblings. The program exists to offer life-changing experiences to campers and to the people who serve them. Utilizing the camp venue, our organization provides ministry and social experiences that increase spiritual knowledge, social learning, and human dignity.”
“Our goal is to show others the love of Christ in every aspect of our ministry. Camp Barnabas goes beyond one week at summer camp. The Barnabas experience changes perspectives and redefines disability.”
“Christ comes first always” and staffers/counselors “point people to Christ in everything we do.”
Camp Barnabas makes a real impact and real children and their blog tells stories that will warm your heart.
Two campers, a little girl with Down’s Syndrome and her sister who were both born in China, have an inspirational story.
Her mom explains, “Rebekah’s story is a beautiful picture of God’s heart for the ‘least of these.’ He has redeemed her life from a hopeless situation and placed her into a family that adores her, and now at a camp where she is loved and embraced for exactly who God made her to be.”
“I choked back tears at the reception my girls received at Camp Barnabas. Both were abandoned by their parents and were unwanted by the world, but when they walked into the gates of Barnabas they were welcomed with open arms. They were cheered on. They were celebrated! Rebekah’s eyes twinkled with delight … almost as if living a dream. Maybe it is a dream, Rebekah! A dream come true!”
Another camper, Seth, is “a sweet, joyful, 10-year-old” who also has Down Syndrome.
When asked what his favorite part of camp was, Seth said: “Swimming in the pool and jumping off the diving board.” There is a video of Seth jumping off the diving board on the camp’s website.
According to Krystal Simon, the camp’s chief development officer, the donation of the mansion to Camp Barnabas will “further our ministry and truly change thousands of lives for years to come.”
Cole Hamels explained his generosity this way: “Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it … Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way.”
This isn’t the Hamels’ first act of Christ-led service.
For over a decade the Hamel’s have operated a charity called The Hamels Foundation which funds childhood education programs in both the United States and in Malawi, Africa.
In addition, the couple themselves adopted an orphaned baby girl from Ethiopia.
The little girl was abandoned at birth and after police found her all alone in a field she was placed in an orphanage.
“We are blessed to be the receiving end of what ended up happening to her, although you would never want that for her, we are blessed to have her,” Heidi said.
“The emotions are all over the place when we get to see her when she wakes up and the happiness that she has,” Cole said.
Please praise God for this couple’s generosity and service for others.