“What in the world are we doing?”
I bet Abraham asked himself this question when God commanded him to uproot his family to Canaan. I asked myself the same question about a year ago when my wife and I decided to move our small family of three across the world.
For the past year we have been living in upcountry Kenya, training local volunteers for a ministry program called Youth Venture. This particular ministry looks different here than its U.S. counterpart, but the premise is the same - to train up the next generation to be disciples of Christ. As of now, our family is planning to be here for a total of four years, but who knows where or what the Lord will have us do by then!
Formalities aside, here’s a glimpse into what it’s been like for me, as a husband and father, transplanting my family to the other side of the world. In truth, this is not the life I ever dreamt of living. In essence, however, I really am living my best life.
Up until December of 2017, my personal faith journey had only taken a dramatic turn probably once or twice. I fell into a pretty routine schedule of balancing family, ministry, and work. When I got a job at a growing tech company in downtown San Diego, I had this idea that my life - including that of my family - was now in order. We could further establish roots in San Diego and still serve in the local church. We could even have been the type of small family to own a house someday! It seemed like things were really falling into place.
Then God did what He does best and disrupted everything. He opened a pretty big door, inviting us to step through. How could we resist?
So being married for almost five years with a three year old in tow, I am now tasked with leading my family in a new way - serving as a foreign missionary in Kenya. Yet, it’s not so different because, as a husband, the call to lead is the same no matter where I am geographically - except I now find myself needing to lead more intentionally, more deliberately.
In many ways, we are “alone” on this side of paradise spending most, if not all of our time together, so I don’t really have the luxury to wait until I’m in the mood to be a good husband or dad.
There’s kind of a romantic and adventurous idea of living in another country, especially where it is seemingly more “dangerous” than our Western bubbles. In actuality, Kenya is quite peaceful and still considers itself a Christian nation; so there really aren’t too many distractions here.
Because there are fewer distractions, I have no time to tool around; there’s more at stake if my family suffers. If I’m not keen to guard my heart and protect my wife’s, if I let our marriage fail, everything else quickly and more intensely follows suit - our family unit will be broken, we won’t be effective in our ministry, and the Kingdom will ultimately be negatively impacted. You see why being a husband and father doesn’t change no matter where I live? Of course, I don’t mean to say that we are God’s amazing gift to Kenya, but we each have a role to play in His work and purpose here.
It’s very crucial that I do what I can to make sure my wife is secure in her role and that we are raising our daughter to love the Lord.
Part of the joy in this story of obedience is the anticipated fruit to come. I don’t actually know what that fruit will be or how it will manifest, but I am grateful we are planting seeds in Kenyan soil that will, God-willing, have lasting impact for generations to come.