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Season 3 | EPISODE 11

Building God’s Kingdom in Community

54:24 · July 2, 2024

In this episode, Jim has a heartfelt chat with a group of devoted missionaries, exploring the beautiful complexities of life in community. Our guests share personal stories of intentional community living, conflict resolution, and the beauty of building a paradise on earth through unity and love. Their experiences reveal the transformative power of community and the joy of living side by side in Christ. Join us, be inspired by their journey, and discover how you might create such a loving and supportive community in your own life.

In this episode, Jim has a heartfelt chat with a group of devoted missionaries, exploring the beautiful complexities of life in community. Our guests share personal stories of intentional community living, conflict resolution, and the beauty of building a paradise on earth through unity and love. Their experiences reveal the transformative power of community and the joy of living side by side in Christ. Join us, be inspired by their journey, and discover how you might create such a loving and supportive community in your own life.

In this episode, they discuss...

  • Missionary life and medical education in Chogoria (5:37)
  • Navigating daily challenges in a close-knit community (19:57)
  • The challenges and rewards of homeschooling in a missionary community (27:09)
  • Conflict resolution and community building in mission work (42:24)

Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!

Referenced in the episode...

Credits

Our guests for this episode were Derek and Lauren Webber (Serge), Eli and Krista Horn (World Gospel Mission), Elena Roumaya (World Medical Mission), and Matthew and Maggie Loftus (Pioneers) — missionaries serving in Chogoria, Kenya. While all from different organizations, they’re discovering what it means to serve, live, and grow together as a community of Christ followers. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Evan Mader, Anna Madsen, and Grace Chang. Music by Tommy Leahy.

𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.

Connect with us!

Get in touch:
Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at podcast@serge.org

 

[Music]

Welcome to Grace at the Fray, a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His kingdom.

[music]

0:00:23.1 Jim Lovelady: Hello, beloved, welcome to Grace at the Fray. This episode is all about the challenges and blessings of living life together in community in such a way that the church begins to look more and more beautiful, like a taste of paradise on earth as it is in heaven. Now, I’ve heard it said somewhere about the church, where two or more are gathered together, there will be conflict, and no, that’s not the Bible verse, that’s not how it goes, but it’s definitely something that we can all relate with. Getting along with others is incredibly difficult, we have a hard time getting along with our spouse and family, so of course, getting along with others in dealing with the conflict in our churches seems nearly impossible. And have you ever heard this phrase, the main obstacle to people becoming a Christian is other Christians. This one stings a bit because I’ve heard it said also, and this one is in the Bible. “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” That’s John 13:35. The world looks at us in our inability to love one another as proof that Christianity isn’t real, so today, I wanna give you a glimpse into a beautiful little community of Jesus followers who are taking the call to love one another seriously, and how the practice of knowing and loving one another builds a paradise on earth as it is in heaven. Now, it helps when they already live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Chogoria, Kenya. So I wanna take you to a little village on the equator at the base of Mount Kenya, it’s a place that wasn’t really easy for us to get to, but hanging out with these folks for a few days made it really hard to leave, but you’ll see. It’s not the scenery that makes this place so beautiful, it’s the messiness and the conflict and the humility, and the forgiveness and restoration, and the generosity of a group of folks on mission who follow Jesus and trust His spirit to build His kingdom of joy and grace. And this interview is unique because it’s with folks from multiple missions organizations. We all gathered in the home of Serge missionaries, Paul and Lynn Opare-Addo, who I interviewed in season 3, episode 2, but sadly, they were stateside when I was in Kenya, so this team wasn’t complete but I’m thankful that they let us crash their place, shout out to Paul and Lynn. But Derek and Lauren Webber, who I interviewed in Season 2, episode 9, they were there. So this interview was a special moment for me because they were the ones who put it in my mind to visit Kenya in the first place. Now, my special guests for this episode Are Eli and Krista Horn, missionaries with World Gospel Mission, Elena Roumaya with World Medical Mission, and Matthew and Maggie Loftus with Pioneers. This is my first multi-mission interview, and it was a lot of fun, and I’m not sharing this with you because these missionaries are just that good at doing community, I’m sharing this because hanging out with them gave me a hope that being on mission in community, has the potential to be so beautiful. It’s because I caught a glimpse of a group of people enraptured by something bigger than themselves, something worth giving their life for, and it gave me a hope that maybe, just maybe the beautiful community really is as beautiful as Jesus thinks it is. And I hope the same for you.

[music]

0:04:23.7 Jim Lovelady: Okay, so this is the largest Grace at the Fray podcast interview I’ve ever done. Yeah, well…

[applause]

0:04:36.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, well done, well done. So it’s gonna be fun because you have this community here and you’re doing life together in a very intentional way, and I’m just really curious what that looks like, and the ways that God is working. And so what’s really cool is, in this room is represented a good number of organizations that are, like I said earlier, doing life together, and so I’m just really curious to see what that’s like. So tell us who you are and how long you’ve been here. And one of the main thing that occupies your ministry headspace. Is that a question that makes sense? 

0:05:26.3 Eli Horn: Totally does, yeah.

0:05:27.6 Jim Lovelady: All right, and we’re gonna go quick here because I want it to be more conversational as we go, but… Ready, Set, Go.

0:05:37.8 Krista Horn: I am Krista Horn and Eli and I are missionaries here with World Gospel Mission, and we have been in Chogoria since 2019, but we moved to Kenya in 2016. So we’ve been here for almost eight years, and we were at another mission hospital for two years in Western Kenya before moving this way. My main ministry that consumes me all day, every day is homeschooling our children, and it is a full-time… I like to say I have three full-time jobs because I homeschool three children. So that is what I do. Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

0:06:10.6 Eli Horn: She was also on our field leadership team, she sat in many, many hours of executive meetings and was acting as a director of member care for the Kenya field Serge mission. So, a fair amount of other things besides what she owned up to just now. Yeah, so I’m Eli, the other half. And I am a family med doc and have a lot of passion towards medical education and the discipleship that happens in that context and preparing folks who are serving the kingdom from other cultural backgrounds and educational backgrounds that are trying to do that well, so get to be a part of a family medicine residency program that happens here. And so got to be faculty at that other hospital in 2016, and there was a need for a program coordinator here, and the community felt like a pretty cool thing to jump into or I’ll maybe mention more about some other reasons it was attractive, but then we came over in 2019 as Krista mentioned. So, we’ve been here ever since. In medical education.

0:07:17.3 Lauren Webber: Okay, I’m Lauren. Wife to Derek and… Okay, what you also did not say is, she’s writing her first book, should be coming out next year. Next year? Okay, okay.

0:07:33.6 Krista Horn: Delete that.

[laughter]

0:07:34.7 Lauren Webber: I mean, occasionally you get around to write.

0:07:35.7 Jim Lovelady: Coming soon. It’s official now. It’s coming out.

0:07:39.7 Eli Horn: It’s been published.

0:07:39.9 Krista Horn: I started six years ago.

0:07:43.3 Lauren Webber: Okay, my main ministry is working with these two ladies. Yeah, homeschooling our children. Derek and I have been in Chogoria. I think the longest of this crew, we’ve been here since 2016, we were in Uganda for a couple of years before that. So spent our first two years praying that God would send more people to do life with here in Chogoria, and God answered my mother’s prayer and sent several ladies that I get to be in community with and do fun things like teach Shakespeare and… What else? Badminton along with math and everything else.

0:08:27.0 Derek Webber: Yes, and I’m Derek Webber, husband to Lauren, and we are Serge missionaries here. I guess what occupies my head space. I worked down in the casualty department, which we kind of saw a little bit today of, I’m down at the hospital. There’s a number of things that occupy my head space, I guess, like I said, we’re very passionate about trying to train up the next generation of Kenyan healthcare workers, whether it be clinical officers or medical officers or residents, and so each one of us has specific skills or gifts or abilities or training that kind of fits into that niche. So as a PA by training and trying to focus on emergency medicine and resuscitation courses, we try and see how that can really launch our trainees into healthcare and fit that niche of where… Or I should say, so that they can be prepared where they find themselves planted and rooted and grounded in the future, so that’s what occupies my head space.

0:09:46.4 Matthew Loftus: I am Matthew Loftus, I’m also a family med doc. So I do very similar things to Eli, my wife Maggie and I, we moved here with our four kids back in July of this year, so we’re the newest family in Chogoria. Four or five years before that, we were living in a place called Litein in South Rift Valley, where we were doing medical education and discipleship, very similar to what happens here actually in the exact same program. So, yeah, like Derek and Eli said, I want to help train, disciple, equip, empower East African health professionals to be missionaries themselves and to serve here or in nearby countries and proclaim the gospel and the word indeed, wherever they go.

0:10:48.0 Maggie Loftus: And I’m Maggie. And like the ladies alluded to, I am homeschooling my four kids, our four kids, they are his too, on a daily basis, and that is what occupies my ministry head space for the most part. I am trained as a nurse and I got to do some pretty neat things with nurse mentorship when we were living in Litein, but for now, we are doing the daily homeschool co-op and that has been a blessing right now.

0:11:24.5 Elena Roumaya: My name is Elena Roumaya, I am a family medicine doctor like these guys, and I am with Samaritan’s Purse World Medical Mission post residency program. So, a mouthful, but I’ve been here in Chogoria for just over two years. What really occupies my head space and time is just like these gentlemen that I get to work with on a daily basis, medical education, from the interns, to med students, to residents, and also mentorship, especially even being a female physician in this country, it’s really great to work alongside some other female interns and medical officers and being able to be a mentor to them and just kinda help walk alongside them through their medical journey and through life.

0:12:11.4 Jim Lovelady: Right on. One of the things that I like to do at the end of the day, and we’re at the end of the day, I mean, I think. I don’t feel like I’m a… I don’t know what time. One of the things I like to do at the end of a day is to just take stock of the day, and it’s like an evening prayer kind of thing, ’cause it’s before the face of God and just kinda let Jesus remind me of the day and review the day. And so I have two questions that I’m now melding into one. One is the big picture question of, what is God doing and has been doing in your time in Chogoria? But, the way that I want you to answer the question is, what did that look like today? And so it may be that you take a deep breath and whoever has the quickest like, oh, I know what the Lord did today, or I know what Jesus has been up to today, I know what I’ve been wrestling with, I know it was something amazing that happened. I know where I’ve been struggling.  My struggle has been, Jesus, my mind is mush. Seriously, Jesus, I came all the way here so that I could have sophisticated conversations, not… I feel like my English is as good as my Swahili right now, Habari Gani? Hapana! There are things that the Lord is doing in the big picture, but what is today? What was today like? So, whoever has something, feel free to share.

0:13:48.1 Eli Horn: Can I completely reverse the scope? Can I start really big picture? 

0:13:52.9 Jim Lovelady: Sure, as long as you… As long as it’s today. As long as you land on today.

0:13:55.0 Eli Horn: It’s all in today. It’s gonna come right to the moment.

0:13:56.4 Jim Lovelady: Okay. Okay. All right. Oh, and you have three minutes.

0:14:02.1 Eli Horn: Right to the moment.

[laughter]

0:14:04.4 Eli Horn: One of the things that Krista and I talked a lot about when we were deciding to transition from one hospital to the other was wanting, be kind of excited to engage in a multi-mission site and station and team. We came from a site that was predominantly not that most sites aren’t. They are predominantly run by organization, and that’s largely for efficiency, and there’s nothing the Americans like more than efficiency, and so it really has worked well for a lot of places, but we were really excited about the idea of trying to collaborate with other people who are coming from not necessarily a whole ton of different backgrounds, we’re gonna take people as they come, but there are gonna be some different rules and some different expectations, we’re all gonna be together and try to form a corporate identity, and we’re really excited about that idea because I think that’s largely kind of a microcosm of what the church is trying to do to some degree, better than others or places and times but I thought that it was a really noble project, and I remember talking about it and being excited, and we knew that it was gonna be hard from time to time, we hoped that it was gonna be amazing from time to time.

And to be honest, it has been amazing, much more often than it’s been hard, and there has been hard moments, and we can talk about those two if you want, but there has been a lot of really, really good things that have come from it, and we’ve even had more and more times in the last couple of years to talk about how it’s been good and why it’s been good and we’re helping others see what’s good about it, and what does that protect you from, and what does that offer to yourself and others? A lot of really good stuff. And so you’re asking, How is this gonna bring it back to the moment?” Because we’re all here and we’re talking about it on a podcast. It’s incredible, sitting in the rainy South Rift Valley, like monsoon, discussing, are we gonna do this? And is this just gonna be a thing. Yeah, we decided this is gonna… And here we are talking about it together, which is an incarnation of an idea that’s been there for a while, and I’m so excited, so. This is our moment.

0:16:00.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, that’s beautiful. All the conversations that I’ve had about Chogoria. It really has been like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together. What does it mean to live life in community? And it’s so multi-faceted. It’s, there are children that we’re raising up to be followers of Christ, there are people that are sick that are coming in that we are trying our best to bring health to them. There are people who are coming in who need Jesus, and we are living life in such a way where we are reminded a moment by moment that we need Jesus… Oh my goodness, this is all of life. And live together and figuring out how to do that in community, in a tight-knit community is really beautiful, and that’s part of what makes Chogoria, and it’s part of what makes it so Choglorious. So what else? 

0:16:58.8 Derek Webber: I was gonna say… We’ll see if this fits your question, but what I was just thinking about my head today was how many conversations have we had that are talking about the work that we do every day to make things better, and it wouldn’t have gone well if we hadn’t have had unity of purpose and unity of mind and unity of hearts, and so I can think about the conversations that literally Matthew and Eli and I’ve had about vision for how we can best accomplish education in our population here. And we had the same conversation just with Elena and myself, and then we transition to conversation of work projects in the hospital, and then we transition to talking to our Kenyan colleagues that are plumbers and electricians and talking to administration. And so it’s like the same grace that we use in our conversation with one another is the same grace that we have to call upon you to talk to our Kenyan colleagues and in admin or even the plumber, or even the person who’s taking care of the grounds around here, and so it’s exactly the picture that you’re talking about, this is the picture of heaven as in cross-cultural, multi-ethnic living out the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with checking our pride at the door, not trying to push our own agenda, but seeing where God is going to lead the conversation and how we can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit on how the movements of grace are moving us and moving our community, so that we can be able to show in unity to our community that the grace of God goes beyond our ethnic boundaries, our passport countries and things like that. And that is really a symbol of God’s grace.

0:18:53.8 Jim Lovelady: I love that you said, checking our pride at the door. And I wanna circle back to that ’cause that’s kind of, there’s another question later for that, but yeah. Anybody else? Any other ideas? 

0:19:09.7 Lauren Webber: Well, I have a picture from today because you asked her today. So our house has been without water for over 24 hours now. Which means it’s been a few days since anybody in the family has showered. Okay. But, here I am texting Krista at 8 o’clock this morning. “Hey, I’m gonna need to come over and do laundry in your machine today, because we have a ton of laundry that we need to do. Do you have room? Can I do that?.” Before I even walk out the door to go teach, I’m talking to my oldest daughter. “Oh, I really need to shower.” She’s 13. “Oh, well, Ms. Elena is on Admin today. Go over to Elena’s house, she’ll help you with the shower, just your shower at her house, take your books, go do stuff at her… ” “Oh, it’s her Admin day? The girls, at least the girls on this compound keep track of Elena’s Admin day.

[laughter]

0:19:57.4 Lauren Webber: Because that’s the place to be. The place to be if you’re a tween.

0:20:14.8 Jim Lovelady: Nice. Awesome.

0:20:16.4 Lauren Webber: It’s only what, is it Thursday? It’s Wednesday? It’s only Wednesday? I can probably count several times, several times this week already that one of us, three mamas have had a good cry with one another, held one another, comforted one another, put our heads together and said, okay, how are we gonna meet the needs of this specific child? Or very routinely get a text from one of them. “Can I send your child over for some discipline?” Or…

[laughter]

0:20:50.1 Lauren Webber: “Do you want me to handle this or do you wanna handle this?”

0:20:53.4 Jim Lovelady: Oh, nice.

0:20:55.4 Lauren Webber: It is that kind of relationship. And then most of us agree, like, you know what, this is a dad thing.

[laughter]

0:21:03.6 Lauren Webber: Dads are gonna be home in 30 minutes. Let him sit. Let him sit till dad gets home. And so this is life and community. This is today. Like you guys showed up. I’m like, how am I gonna do my pot roast? I literally had to turn the generator on to try to do my instant pot…

0:21:18.8 Jim Lovelady: No water and no power.

0:21:21.5 Lauren Webber: No water, no power, ’cause the power went off. I’m texting people, can I use your oven? Can I… This is life…

0:21:26.0 Jim Lovelady: Dinner was great, by the way. Thank you.

0:21:31.3 Lauren Webber: It’s a little tough. Meat was a little tough, but it’s all right. But this is life and community. And what you don’t see here, but what we see is the 14 kids that are all spread out amongst us as well. And I love that these kids are getting the… Are being included in that picture of heaven of what these guys are talking about. My son’s running out and said, “Frederick the plumber is here.” “Okay. Tell him to whatever.” They’re involved, they’re involved as much as in our community here as we are. And it’s a beautiful thing. My son fell out of a tree and severely broke his arm earlier this year, and Krista went and drove two hours to go fetch our other teammate who was doing surgery at another hospital a couple hours away, come back, do surgery on him. That’s everyday life. It’s everyday life here. And I think it is a microcosm of heaven. And I love that this team is so small and intimate enough that it seems like no one is too busy to engage in whatever my problem is, it’s real. And that I can call on Elena or I can call on any of our other teammates who might be at the hospital, but I know that they’re not too busy to answer my call or to engage in what I am dealing with in the moment. So I think it’s really where I see God showing up.

0:23:07.6 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Amen. What else today? 

0:23:08.6 Elena Roumaya: Yeah. So to piggyback on Lauren outside of our missionary community, I’d even say including our Kenyan colleague community. So just today, about maybe an hour before we got here, one of the other doctors here on the compound, one of our Kenyan docs called me and was like, “Hey, can I stop by after work? I wanna talk to you about something and see if I can borrow something.” So she came over, had to talk to me about a few things, and she’s like, “Hey, can I borrow some cupcake wrappers and some sugar?” And I’m like, yeah, sure. And then just kind of gave her some stuff. We chatted for a little bit. But the thing I love about our community is it goes beyond just us missionaries. So like, yes, like Derek said, we have our passport country, but I feel like that doesn’t matter here. It doesn’t matter what country you’re born in or where you grew up. Like we all see each other as equal here. And being able to call on each other, whether you’re Kenyan, Ugandan, American, Ghanaian, it doesn’t matter who you are. We’re all just equal and just together in God’s presence. So that’s one thing I really love about this place.

0:24:10.4 Jim Lovelady: The energy is a… When people come through here, we want them to be blessed and that, so that when they leave, they are a blessing to wherever they go. Yeah, go ahead.

0:24:23.2 Krista Horn: Let me just tell you a quick thing that goes in perfectly what you’re saying because we have always remembered this. One of our Kenyan docs, this is some years ago, but her sister came to visit. And one of the jokes is that Chogoria is on the way to nowhere and so people have to go way out of their way to get here compared to other places in Kenya. And her sister had come up, I think she was here for Christmas and had spent some good time with the kids and all that. And when she left, she said, “Oh Chogoria, it’s a hard place to get to but harder still to leave.”

[laughter]

0:24:56.0 Krista Horn: And I was like, yes, that captures exactly… That is Chogoria. That is Chogoria right there. And so we say that to each other every once in a while to encourage each other. This is a really great place. Yeah. So I’ll share one quick story from today as well. On the homeschooling side. So I’m a forced homeschooler. I homeschool ’cause I have to and I pour myself into it. And I know I do a good job, but it is a cross to bear every day. And so having other mamas to do it with is what keeps me going and keeps me steady. Homeschooling is a hard thing to do and it’s such an important thing to do. But in tandem with that, the reason I’m really thankful for it is ’cause it’s also discipling our kids at the same time. And to bring it back to the community side, I’m not discipling my kids alone. And just last week we had a situation with one of my children that had to be dealt with. And as I was processing this with my kid, I was telling him, I’m like, listen, I am so thankful that this other mom told me about this, because she recognized that this was something that needed to be addressed. And we are in this together, we’re teammates. And I trust her. And I am so thankful that I am not the only one trying to teach you this and to help you grow in this area. And it was really encouraging to me as I’m speaking to my kid, I was speaking to myself and reminding myself of that because it’s true. I’m not alone in this really, really long suffering project of training and discipling our kids. And we’re doing it overseas, which is its own unique beauty and challenge. And one of the things I hope and pray for our kids all the time is that this life that they’re living as missionary kids will in the end help them become wiser and more mature and more Christ-like than they would’ve been otherwise.

And I really believe that that’s happening even when there are days when I struggle to still believe that, but I think in the long haul, yes. Like the big picture, this is happening and it’s because of God’s grace and it’s ’cause of the community that we have together that’s making this happen for each other’s kids. And I’m so thankful for that.

0:27:09.7 Maggie Loftus: This is a nice exercise, the taking stock of the day, ’cause us being the newbies around here. I like to take a walk in the morning but I’m getting a feel for some of the back roads and how they connect and things. And I had found one loop that connected and I was like, oh, I’ve been on this a couple times, so I’m gonna go the opposite direction today. And I got lost. I wasn’t lost, but I was like, I think I’ve missed the turning, so I’m just gonna turn around and I’ll just go back it’ll just take me a little longer. And on the way I ran into one of the… Our colleagues at the hospital, and I said, “Are you on your way to work? Can I go with you?”

And she said, yeah, of course. And so got to walk in with her and just hear more of her story. And so that was a wonderful thing. And then later on in the morning, got to have Lauren’s daughter come over and just got to appreciate how, like, even just, we’ve been doing school for a few weeks out now, but like, oh, she’s getting better at blending words. Like that’s a major skill in reading and just like getting to watch… I mean, it’s incredible teaching kids to read, that’s been like a very cool thing in homeschooling, but like getting to see that happen like slowly on a daily basis. And then my day ended by returning two eggs that I had borrowed from Krista the day before. Yeah. It’s definitely… It’s a blessing and it’s a… All these little things are these little signposts of the beloved community of like, yeah, we can show up for each other. If we’re lost on the side of the road we can help you, get to the right turning.

0:29:09.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, it beautiful. A wrong turn turned into a very beautiful conversation. So there is something about the architecture of this. And you kind of mentioned it a little bit. It’s hard to get to Chogoria and it’s and it’s hard to leave, kind of like, it’s hard to get to an island and then leave that island. In a very real way, the architecture of this is, hey, if we can’t figure this out, it’s gonna blow up. And so then I juxtapose that with like, the typical American church where… And this is where it gets into like, okay, well what does conflict and forgiveness look like? ‘Cause the typical American church is like, I have a disagreement with you, so I’m out and I can leave because this isn’t an island and I don’t need you. So the question is, can you tell me where the joy of that is found? So even if I’m not on an island, this is actually what I was made to do. Does that make sense? We were made for conflict resolution. We were made for forgiveness, and you guys just happen to be in a place where you have to practice it way super diligently or it goes bad.

0:30:26.4 Elena Roumaya: One of the missionaries that used to… In fact, the first missionaries that were in Chogoria during this particular era, Chogoria’s history. He often said, “Compound living compounds living.” And it’s so true ’cause we literally live within a walled compound, and we’re all in here together. And you’re exactly right. Our lives intersect in a lot of ways. The people that you are neighbors with are the people you work with, or the people you worship alongside, are the people you homeschool with. I mean, we are in every sphere of each other’s lives. And of course we have conflict because we’re humans living alongside each other. And I think that one of the greatest things that I appreciate and celebrate about how our community lives together well is that we do so much life together intentionally, that we get to know each other so well. And I think when you really know each other well, it lends itself to having extra grace for each other. Because it’s hard to stay mad at someone that you know really well, has a really wonderful, beautiful heart and who loves your kids really well, and who works alongside of you and is doing everything they can to do patient care, compassionately and so forth. And so I think that’s probably one of the greatest strengths that we have that bolsters our ability to live in community together, is just that we do life together to such a degree to know each other really well, which builds trust, which gives us an ability to handle conflict when it arises. And not to say that we do it perfectly ’cause of course not. But I think that it strengthens us to be able to do that.

0:32:13.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. But you’re pointing out the thing that we long for the most that the gospel gives is we want to be known and loved. We were created to be known and loved. And when Jesus comes in and says, I know you, and you go, oh my gosh! The anxiety of exposure being known, but then the comfort of being loved, that’s where it’s like, oh, I was made for this. And so what you’re describing is like, hey you get a little taste of that when… I hear you saying people see me in all the mess and they still love me. How? How is that possible? Well, only because of what? What Jesus has liberated us for. And so that is enticing can you practice knowing someone and still loving them? 

0:33:09.9 Matthew Loftus: I think a lot of the joy that comes in conflict resolution and forgiveness in a cross-cultural setting, I think comes from seeing how other cultures handle conflict. And I think I can speak for all of us and say that when we first moved to East Africa, we found conflict resolution style here frustrating because it is very indirect. For example, you may not ever directly apologize to somebody. You may say something a little bit unusual at a meeting with other people to signal that you have forgiven this person or that you are sorry for what you have done or you may just anonymously leave them a gift and they’re supposed to know. That’s how they’ve repented. And it’s frustrating. But on the other hand, you can see how there is something just interesting and unique and just a different way of resolving conflict that doesn’t feel quite as right for us Westerners who are used to direct communication, but being able… It’s also sometimes kind of nice not having to actually hash it out with someone in a way that I think we Westerners have to do with each other in order to feel like a conflict has resolved. I think another aspect is a sense in which the mission or the team comes before your own priorities. That when you have conflict and you do feel kind of stuck, you say, well, this thing has to move forward, whatever it is. And because I believe in what we’re doing together more than I believe that my way is right. And I may not ever… I may not change my mind about what I think is right, but I’m gonna go along with it because I wanna see us continue moving forward as a team, as an institution, as a hospital. So seeing that and getting to see everybody push together and say, “Yeah, this is something we all believe in and we’re willing to put aside our own pride.” Or even just… Sometimes not just pride, sometimes you’re right.

0:35:57.4 Jim Lovelady: Right. Right.

0:35:58.0 Matthew Loftus: Sometimes you’re right, the other person’s wrong. And You just gotta suck it up.

0:36:08.6 Jim Lovelady: I love that because you’re identifying how if you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, it kind of sweeps you up and says, hey, remember you’re not faded, your sad, haunting fate is not that you’re all alone and that you have to figure out what you’re gonna do with yourself. Actually, you’re a part of something way bigger, and hey, you remember what that is? Let me remind you. And we remind ourselves that we are all part of the kingdom of God, that this is a gigantic wave. That if you time it just right, the surfing is really amazing. So anybody else? 

0:36:47.2 Eli Horn: One of the things that I feel in our community is that having done the conflict management enough and having enjoyed the fruits that come from well-managed conflict, I almost feel like drawn into that. Rather, like, you look back at the way it was or the way it could be, you gave the example of the all too common, “I don’t need you, I’ll just go somewhere else.” And the way that feels, if that’s the only shoe you’ve worn, it’s the only shoe, you know. But if it’s not, and if you’ve lived a life and managed things differently, then it doesn’t feel okay to do it the way you used to do it. So in some ways, it’s like when you practice it or live it or feel it or experience it enough, you realize that that is the only future you want. So you’re saying, what’s the goal? Or what keeps you going? What’s the life? And I don’t want to go back. That’s where the goal is. That’s where the life. Is, I don’t want to go back to how we used to do it.

0:38:02.4 Maggie Loftus: That makes sense. I think, because I think what you’re alluding to is that when you do well-managed conflict, it makes our relationships stronger,right?. And it’s a shorter footing than to step out into the future. You know, when there are conflicts and when there are things, you know, between you, you understand each other better, you trust each other more. You have more respect for each other. And yeah, It’s hard and it’s awkward and you hate to step into it. But then once you’ve done it and you have the fruit of it, you’re like, no, the dump them mentality doesn’t work for you anymore. Like, that’s not what you want to reach for. Yeah.

0:38:47.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. In Serge’s curriculum, we have a curriculum called Sonship. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in Serge world. And one of the things that we talk about is instead of reverting to peacekeeping, but to actually go on a love offensive. And that’s, I think that what you’re talking about is, you wanna live a life where you’re going on a love offensive, where you can see through, there’s a disagreement that is inevitable. It’s gonna happen. But I want to love this person the way Christ loves this person. Jesus, show me how you love this person ’cause I don’t see it. And Jesus, through prayer and repentance starts to show you, “Hey, did you ever think about how, you know, maybe they’re absolutely right and you’re wrong?” “No, I never thought about that.” Or whatever. And He starts to say, well, do you love this person more than you like being right? Do you love this person more than the situation? You know, love the person. And so I think that what you’re talking about… I mean, what you’re saying reminds me of, oh yeah, we wanna be about going on a love offensive.

0:39:57.4 Eli Horn: Let me say this. Being here a little bit longer than others sometimes puts you in a position where you know a little bit more than others about how this happens or how that happens. And on the one hand, you want to be helpful and mentoring people and about how that would work. In other hand, you’re like, they’re an adult. They’ll figure it out. I kind wanna be condescending. But I remember a time when Elena suffered in silence for a long time, and I did not know that this was true. I am totally embarrassing her, so don’t move the camera. But unbeknownst to me, she’d even been trying to process the experience of feeling frustrated and not knowing some things, even with other members of the community. And because she’s a strong person, she didn’t wait for that person to indirectly tell me that this was an issue before she herself directly told me that this was an issue, which I appreciated because I’m American.

But we had a couple actually, of very meaningful conversations that I will not ever forget, because they were very impactful for clarifying in my mind and in my heart what I wanted our community to be about. And to have somebody say, I don’t think this… It doesn’t feel that way to me. Is one of the most clarifying experiences that you can have. And so, for this thing that we care about, it was cut to the heart of, I mean, like I mentioned or alluded to earlier, like, one of the reasons we came to Chogoria was of course, for all sorts of ministry reasons. But one of the things we wanted to do was participate in this experiment. And then to have somebody say it’s not going well. That means something to me,right? And so it was an important thing to have that opportunity and then to have somebody to partner with, to figure out, well, how do we get better? How do we refine that? And certainly is another life giving aspect to conflict management is you realize you get better, you can refine it. And so that was a shared experience with Elena and I, she can allude further if she wants, but where it really was hard but very good. And I think… I mean, we can easily talk about the different things that have come from that very logistical things like checks and chats, but also I think a much greater friendship and we vacationed together. So worked out.

[laughter]

0:42:24.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Talk about a fruit of conflict. Yeah. You don’t have to vacation with this person.

0:42:32.6 Eli Horn: Right.

[laughter]

0:42:32.6 Elena Roumaya: I chose to.

0:42:35.1 Jim Lovelady: You chose to.

0:42:35.2 Elena Roumaya: On my own will. No, and that is so true. And I feel like, when you first go to the mission field, I feel like advice I got during orientation, pre-field things, all, it was always, just kind of be quiet and do your own thing for the first six months. Like, don’t stir any water. Like, just be there. And so I felt like I moved to this new community and I’m like, okay, I’m just gonna sit back. And I’m a very extrovert, outgoing, like that’s my personality. And so I felt like I was trapped inside of being a silent person, not giving my opinion on things. ‘Cause that’s just not who I am. But I’m like, gotta follow the rules. And so, but like Eli had alluded to and said is I felt like it just… I felt conflict within myself, honestly. I just was trying to figure things out. And like, through prayer and things of that nature, and talking to many different people, we were able to come to a resolution of conflict that was a conflict for me, but maybe not necessarily other people. But ’cause this community is so strong and we all look out for each other, I felt like maybe things that were bothering me weren’t bothering them, but they came alongside me to make it a better place for me. And so I felt like that was… I don’t know, like having that sense of community and belongingness and I was like, you know, felt more not belonged. And then after various conflict resolutions, having that sense of belongingness.

0:43:56.3 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.

0:43:57.5 Lauren Webber: Which then I think has made… Has enriched our entire community. And so I think what the both of you are alluding to is that we have… I don’t wanna say we have worked really hard, but there have been times in the past where conflict has not been handled well. And we’ve learned from those times. And I think something that we’ve taken away from that is that we want this to be a safe community where people can feel like there is freedom to shine a spotlight on the blind spots. I think it’s helping to create that sense of safety, that we’re for one another, we are for the gospel, we are for the kingdom of God expanding. And if we say that we’re for those things, then we need to be for those things within our own hearts. And so if we say that the kingdom of God goes forth through repentance and faith, then we may be modeling that within ourselves. And if we really believe that, then it really is a safe place to repent or to come to someone and invite them to repent and to deepen our faith. Yeah. Just this renewal that’s happening within ourselves so that the kingdom of God can expand further.

0:45:24.4 Krista Horn: And one other thing that goes along with this is living in a medical missions community, specifically, if you’re gonna be committed to community, it requires being committed to constantly adjusting. I have said so many times that one of the hardest, if not the hardest thing about this mission’s life is the constant comings and goings because it takes such a toll on your heart and your emotions. And so the temptation is to guard your heart. And when new people come to just try and keep the status quo and hope that they’ll adjust to you, because it takes so much work for us to have to adjust again. But that’s not going to produce the kind of intentional life giving community that we ultimately want. And so it does require a commitment to being willing to adjust kind of perpetually. I mean, even this example with Elena, we had a status quo that by all accounts, I think was working fine, for a while with some glitches along the way. And it didn’t occur to us well, we’re not all the same group, the community group that we were two years ago. We have a new group of people, which means we need to reassess. And we need to look at each other again and figure out what’s gonna work for us right now, and how can we adjust accordingly. And so I think that that is another thing that I really appreciate about Chogoria, is that whether consciously or subconsciously, I don’t know, but I think that we’ve kind of agreed that this is something we’re committed to, is being willing to figure out what is the dynamic this year and how can we live well in community this year, given who we literally have on the ground right now. And then it’ll change again next year. We could just start all over figuring it out again. But we’re in this together, so we’ll do that.

0:47:21.7 Jim Lovelady: It’s hard, it’s hard to say hello, but it’s really hard to say goodbye. It’s hard. It may be hard to get to Chogoria, but it’s really hard to leave Chogoria. Those are just complex realities. And it does, it takes a village to figure those things out. So I wanna pray for you guys. Jesus, I thank you for these friends, and I thank you that they are practicing what it means to be truly human in a place that is bringing people in, and sending them out. Blessed to be a blessing. And so I pray for all the relationships. I pray for all the children, I pray for all the doctors that they’re teaching, all the nurses that they’re working with, everyone who’s on this compound. I pray that you would continue to let your blessing fall on this place. Give us spirit of wisdom and grace and openness and vulnerability and honesty, and checking the pride at the door, and create this winsome, beautiful thing that is life together. And we love that we get to participate in your kingdom in these various ways. So give diligence and strength and encouragement and wisdom and humility and all the fruit of your spirit. We pray. Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, in Chogoria, as it is in heaven. We pray in your name. Amen. Thank you so much.

0:49:10.3 Lauren Webber: Thank you.

0:49:13.8 Jim Lovelady: I think the world may have an unrealistic expectation for the church. We might have this too, where we think that the church will be the place where everyone just gets along and there’s never any conflict. It’s just unrealistic. And it kind of misses the point. The church is a beautiful community that takes deep relationships seriously and moves through the inevitable conflict toward restoration, precisely because Jesus loves his church and his victory over sin and death means that the gates of hell can’t stand up against her. Look, I know what I’m saying sounds ridiculous, especially in the American church where things seem to be falling apart. And I’m not gonna justify the evil things that the church is guilty of, but Jesus loves His bride. And if Jesus really is victorious over sin and death, that means that this is the best place to practice humility, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. If there’s a place to be deeply known and loved, it’s in the church. And if you’ve been hurt by the church, I see you, I know how it feels. And I’m deeply sorry. The church is a mess. And Jesus loves His bride. Doing life in the community is dangerous, but Jesus is victorious and He calls his beautiful community to follow Him on mission. And it’s the mission of God that that puts us shoulder to shoulder where we have to, we just have to get along. We’re in the business of kicking down the gates of hell. So I wanna invite you to come live on mission. And that might mean going to join a beautiful community that’s on mission or, it may mean staying where you are in order to join the mission of your current beautiful community and make it more beautiful. f you’re curious about God’s call for you to go, I wanna put some ideas in your mind. I’m pleased to let you know about a partnership we have with the Global Missions Health Conference. Are you curious about medical missions? Well, join us November 7th through ninth in Louisville, Kentucky. And it also has an online virtual option as well. You’ll learn about the wide variety of healthcare needs around the world, about the organizations that are meeting those needs. And you’ll hear what medical missions are like firsthand from those who are serving on the mission field. And by the way, the Serge booths are 1001 and 1002. And we hope to see you there. And I have another idea. If you are interested in going overseas, Chogoria needs a missionary kid teacher. If you love teaching kids and you wanna live in paradise, this is for you. But it’s not just a need that we have in Chogoria. We have opportunities all over the globe, to meet this, it’s really a huge need. You heard a bit in this episode, but it’s hard to describe how significant it is for a missionary kid teacher to join a team and have that frees the teammates to expand their missionary role wherever they are serving. And one more thing about Chogoria, one of the most profound things that I experienced in my time there was the tour of the hospital where these folks work and the holistic way that they’re doing healthcare, where they balanced the medical and the spiritual aspects of caring for people. I got a chance to interview the chaplains of Chogoria Hospital. And it was a fascinating conversation. For example, a story about the doctors, about how the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with a patient. So they called in the chaplains. Well, the chaplains performed an exorcism and the patient was healed. Wow. So I’m gonna put that interview with the chaplains on Serge’s YouTube channel. So be sure to check that out. The link for that is in the show notes. But maybe your way of going on mission in the beautiful community is to stay, to stick it out, to humbly seek reconciliation with the ones that you’ve hurt. And to practice forgiving the ones who hurt you. Maybe you need to be reminded that there is no perfect church. And if you find one, don’t join it because you’re gonna mess it up. The only way to stay, to lean into conflict and seek restoration is to be so convinced of being loved by Jesus and the safety therein. That you can take big risks, go on mission. And by that, by that I mean love other people starting wherever you are. So as you go, remember, always remember that you are going with the blessing of God. So receive this blessing. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you. Turn His bright eyes to you and give you His peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God life everlasting. Amen.

[music]

Chogoria Teammates

Derek and Lauren Webber (Serge), Eli and Krista Horn (World Gospel Mission), Elena Roumaya (World Medical Mission), and Matthew and Maggie Loftus (Pioneers) are missionaries serving in Chogoria, Kenya. While all from different missions organizations, they're discovering what it means to serve, live, and grow together as a community of Christ followers.


THE HOST

Jim Lovelady

Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.

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