Missions is not what I expected. It is far more and far less. For some, we are seen as heroes of the faith, living out the call to “take up your cross and follow Me” in a radical way. For others, we are nuisances, dinosaurs of modernity who should have found something better to do with their time than take from churches and change perfectly good cultures with an archaic message.
So be it, but for the Kemp family our journey has been less spectacular than either of those caricatures. It has been challenging, to say the least, to work in the same area where boys are homeschooling and one 15 month old is playing. Even more challenging is trying to get work done on a 10 hour drive with everyone in the van. My 15 month old has discovered that toilets hold water. . . My 4 year old is recovering from having lost his dinner sometime in the night because it apparently, quite by happenstance, consisted of a large dose of shelled peanuts. We only realized the quantity after it hit the bathroom floor twice. Our 13 year old is quite helpful in so many things, but he is also still learning what it means to be part of a family. And then there is the 7 and the 3 year old. . . the pair of scissors that were “found” and the book that had the shape of some of its pages “updated” and the teddy bear whose latest plastic surgeon never had a medical license.
Life is not very complicated, per se, in these fund-raising days, but it is upside down and very busy. We are 5 months into, “no house mode”, and that one change is enough to make my head spin. The house out of which we moved is being prepared for sale by local church volunteers. It is a glorious sacrificial help. . . yet one that moves at the pace of volunteers . . glorious and slow, kind, helpful and Christ-like. A gift of time, energy, and resources for which we give many thanks. As I type, I remember helping others on projects like this, but I have never been the recipient of such grace.
Yes, we are missionaries, not yet on the field; nearly 52 weeks into our professional church hopping presentations. And we have found our lives enriched, tested, and upheld.
Enriched- missions is a whole family enterprise. Our three year old on the ground, screaming at the front of the church while supposedly reciting Psalm 29, yep, that’s us. Our 7 year old hitting children (yes, multiple) during a bible lesson; the same boy lovingly helping those same children within minutes, yep, that is the missionaries’ son.
Tested- How would you enjoy taking your children to a new church every week? Let’s just say we don’t have a dull moment. “Daddy, do we sit through this service, or go to children’s church?” “Daddy, we don’t know these songs, do I ‘have’ to sing?” “Mommy, why do they do communion like that?”
“Daddy, when can we see those toys again. . . do we have to give away our kitty cat? Will we ever have another one?”
“Erin, did we get our prayer cards,” I say as we walk out the door having nearly forgotten the map to the church this week. And where is Nathanael? “Still in bed?” “How did that happen?” We almost just forgot our three year old!
“Son, you just used the toilet. No, we can not stop” . . . (minutes later) . . . “How wet is the seat? I guess we are stopping now.”
The to do list is longer than the “have done” list. Will this be the case when we get on the plane for our 15 hour trip to Johannesburg? We have discovered that there is a very good reason that most modern cultures are not nomadic. Life on the road as a family is a test; a beautiful, messy, sticky, test of endurance.
Upheld- Our Father hears our prayers. He rewards us with new mercies every morning. He gives strength for each day, and grace for each error. We have learned that it is better to be worshiping the Lord in song on I-79 with a peaceful family than in a settled home with discord.
The Result-Our desire to help the church in South Africa has only increased. Children are still being orphaned. Pastors are still without sufficient training. Whole families are still dying of Aids. The need has not lessened. We are ready to put our hand to the plow in the work to which we have been called. . . and I suspect that when we taxi out of Hartsfield and are cleared for takeoff that we may just remember our current ministry of deputation with fondness.
And when we arrive in Johannesburg we will embark on the next phase of missionary life. . . training pastors to shepherd their flock and to fulfill their call to equip the flock to do the work of the ministry. In South Africa that means loving the 4.1 million+ orphans by sharing the gospel with them and carrying for so many of them who suffer from sexual abuse, the resulting HIV infection, and a lack of the basic things of life for which we in America thank God at mealtime.
So, thank you for your faithful prayers on our behalf. Thank you for your financial gifts. We thank God for our partnership in the Gospel of His glorious Son.
We are supported at just over 75% at this point, and we have received over 1/3 of our moving expenses. As soon as we reach 100% we will leave for the field. We are praying for that to happen before the Spring of next year. Would you pray to that end as well?
Trusting in Him,
Scott and Erin Kemp