It is a bit difficult trying to tell someone else’s story because no one can tell it better than the person who lived it. However, I am going to do my best…
I sat in the small room that served as a chapel in the resident language school at which Chip and I had just arrived. We were surrounded by fellow classmates, as well as teachers and others who lived and worked on the compound. Sunday nights were chapel services, which we were required to attend as language school students. We had been told that we would be given opportunity to give our testimonies and this night was Chip’s turn. This was where I finally got to hear (more than a year later) the real story behind how we ended up in Kenya, East Africa rather than Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The way I recall his telling of the story, when he was 9 years old, he attended a week-long missions conference at his family’s church. It was an exciting time of hearing the adventurous – and sometimes scary – stories of the experiences and work of the several missionaries in attendance. This particular night, a missionary from Africa spoke (I don’t recall if he said the country or not). Chip’s 9-year-old heart was touched by the prospect of so many people who could go to hell simply because they had never heard of Jesus. This was the 1960s and many African nations were fighting for independence from colonial rulers, so not only were the stories inspiring for the young Chip, but scary as well, as he heard of violence and bloodshed. That night he cried himself to sleep thinking of all those people who had never heard the name of Jesus, and despite his fears, vowed he would go to Africa with the Good News.
The following night was a speaker from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He had wonderful, victorious stories of ministry and salvations. Sao Paulo also sounded like an exciting, and much safer place to be in those days, to boot. The 9 year old’s fears won over and Chip was sure he was called to Brazil after all.
One morning he approached his parents and told them he was called to be a missionary (I don’t know if he told them what country or continent) and they proceeded to march him down the aisle of church at the first opportunity and proudly told the pastor of Chip’s decision. Amazingly, both parents and pastor took this young boy’s decision seriously and prayed for him. There was no looking back for Chip after that. His heart was set on the mission field and there was no turning away.
I have already recounted when we met and our discussion of Africa vs Brazil and how after marriage, we had agreed to both keep an open mind and heart and to seek God together as to where He would have us serve.
The way Chip told us that evening in the chapel service in language school, one time, while praying, God reminded him (kind of like a flashback memory) of the night he cried himself to sleep over lost souls in Africa who had never heard of Jesus and his commitment to go. Though we continued to look at all options, I suspect that from then on, Chip knew in his heart that our destination would be somewhere in Africa.
The rest is history now and God led us to Kenya on the East African coast. We have been working and living in Kenya for 39 years now. Chip has applied for citizenship and this is where we hope to die. Kenya is home to us now and other than our ultimate home in heaven, we want no other on this earth.