1:04 · October 31, 2023
In this episode, Derek and Lauren Webber share their firsthand experiences as medical missionaries in Chogoria, Kenya. They offer profound insight into the daily reality of missionary work, the misconceptions, and the importance of repentance and humility when living in a multicultural Jesus-style community. Through powerful stories of transformation and partnership, they share lessons for all of us in unity and finding true joy while serving others.
In this episode, Derek and Lauren Webber share their firsthand experiences as medical missionaries in Chogoria, Kenya. They offer profound insight into the daily reality of missionary work, the misconceptions, and the importance of repentance and humility when living in a multicultural Jesus-style community. Through powerful stories of transformation and partnership, they share lessons for all of us in unity and finding true joy while serving others.
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!
Our guests for this episode were Derek and Lauren Webber, currently serving in Chogoria, Kenya where they partner with the PCEA Chogoria Hospital to bring hope and healing to those in central Kenya. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen, Aaron Gray, Brooke Herron, Ashlie Kodsy, and Sunny Chi. 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.
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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the 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.
0:00:24.4 Jim Lovelady: Hello, beloved. Welcome. Welcome to Grace at the Fray. One of the things I love about doing this podcast is that I get to tell stories of grace from the world of Serge that I think are a blessing for your world, because we are all in this together, and sharing stories of the myriad of ways God meets us at the frayed edges of life is how we can spur one another on. So today I wanna share with you a conversation I had with Derek and Lauren Webber. They live on a medical compound in Chogoria, Kenya, at the base of Mt. Kenya. And this conversation is full of stories of what it looks like to build a Jesus’ style community in a multi-ethnic context. The question that continually surrounds this conversation is, what does it take for folks to live together in harmony with one another?
And that’s the question that we can all ask. How can we live in peace and mutual blessing with one another? And it reminds me of Psalm 133 and as I read it, and only if you’re able, close your eyes and try to picture what is happening in this Psalm, how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. It’s like the precious oil on the head running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It’s like the dew of Mt. Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion for there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.
This Psalm is packed with symbolism and imagery. And here are the keywords: Think priestly intercession. A priest gathers up the praises of God’s people and presents them to God, and then takes the blessings of God and dishes them out to a needy world. When folks live together in harmony, it brings blessing and healing to the world. The blessing isn’t the unity. The unity is the blessing. Or maybe the spirit weaves all of these things together on earth as it is in heaven. Now, I say all of this to prep you for the conversation because Derek and Lauren are working out what it looks like to be a blessing to the world around them by pursuing unity and harmony and shalom.
And as they tell their story, you’ll see that the only way to be that kind of priestly blessing is to follow Jesus through humility and honesty and suffering so that his resurrection power is made manifest in some really surprising ways. So let’s learn together how to live in harmony.
0:03:03.7 Jim Lovelady: Well, Lauren, Derek, welcome to Grace at the Fray. Thank you for dropping by…
0:03:08.3 Derek Webber: Thank you.
0:03:08.8 Jim Lovelady: At the home office. So you’re heading back to Chogoria.
0:03:12.4 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:03:13.4 Jim Lovelady: Tell me everything about Chogoria, and then tell me how you guys got there.
0:03:16.2 Lauren Webber: Sure.
0:03:16.4 Derek Webber: Excellent. Well, Chogoria is located in Kenya. It’s within East Africa. And it’s about in the middle of the country at the base of Mt. Kenya. So it’s on the eastern side of Mt. Kenya in the foothills, on the rain shadow side, so it’s a little bit like a rainforest in which we kind of live…
0:03:37.2 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting.
0:03:39.1 Lauren Webber: Yeah. We live and work at the PCEA, Presbyterian Church of East Africa Mission Hospital there. Derek is a physician assistant and works in the emergency department. They call it the casualty department there. But he also does a lot of training.
0:03:58.0 Derek Webber: Yeah. I wear a lot of other hats…
0:04:00.2 Lauren Webber: A lot of other hats. Yeah.
0:04:00.3 Derek Webber: At the hospital. So.
0:04:01.2 Lauren Webber: Yeah. Does a lot of training, both in medical procedures and things like that, but also works alongside our hospital chaplains who are at the frontlines of bringing the gospel to the bedside, praying with every single patient in the hospital and their family, which as you can imagine can be a very taxing and draining job at times. So Derek works alongside them, the goal of breathing life into them and collaborating on how to best minister to patients and families in the hospital. And then he’s also the missionary liaison, so he represents the missionary community in partnership with our hospital leaders. Yeah.
0:04:45.6 Jim Lovelady: I know a few things about you from the prayer meeting that y’all have been married almost 20 years?
0:04:49.2 Derek Webber: Almost 20 years. Yeah.
0:04:49.9 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:04:50.4 Jim Lovelady: And that you’ve been with Serge for…
0:04:51.5 Lauren Webber: 10.
0:04:52.8 Derek Webber: 10.
0:04:53.4 Jim Lovelady: For 10.
0:04:53.7 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:04:53.9 Jim Lovelady: Okay. So how did that happen?
0:04:56.7 Derek Webber: Yeah. Well, I was gonna say I was a missionary in Central America with another organization for a number of years and that’s where I met my wife. And we had a long distance relationship for about three years with me serving in missions down in Central America and my wife back here going to school.
0:05:17.2 Jim Lovelady: So you visited?
0:05:18.5 Lauren Webber: Yeah. I came down to be a camp nurse at the summer camp that he was leading, yeah, while I was in nursing school. And there’s a story to that, but it’s for another day, another day, another time.
0:05:30.3 Jim Lovelady: It’s a romantic story. That’s what it is.
0:05:33.2 Lauren Webber: Yep. God wrote that story. Yeah. So we wrote letters back and forth for three years. At the end of that, he proposed and came off the field six months later for us to get married.
0:05:46.7 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:05:46.9 Lauren Webber: And then he went back to school at that point in time, shifted focus from church work to then doing medical training.
0:05:56.6 Derek Webber: And medical missions is where our desire was, is where you can combine the mercy ministry, you can combine the gospel and word indeed. And so we did alot of discipleship when I was in Central America, and so we continued to add to that the medical component.
0:06:14.1 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:06:14.4 Jim Lovelady: Oh, okay.
0:06:15.2 Derek Webber: And then really within a month after graduation, we were doing a site visit in Uganda.
0:06:22.4 Jim Lovelady: Okay.
0:06:22.4 Derek Webber: And so the idea, the call, the desire was to be able to finish up take as little amount of time as what is needed here in the States for boards, for experience, and then to be able to serve internationally.
0:06:35.8 Lauren Webber: So, we got plugged into the Bundibugyo team. So we went on a site visit there.
0:06:43.3 Jim Lovelady: To join the Serge team in Bundibugyo.
0:06:44.4 Lauren Webber: To join the Serge team in Bundibugyo. Travis and Amy Johnson were team leaders there and really hit it off with them. Derek found out, I think, that you passed your boards while we were in…
0:06:56.7 Derek Webber: Yeah. I passed my boards when we were there.
0:06:58.3 Lauren Webber: While we were there.
0:07:00.0 Jim Lovelady: Oh nice. Hey, congrats. [laughter] I’m a little late, but congratulations are always in order.
0:07:04.8 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:07:04.9 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:07:05.2 Lauren Webber: And I distinctly remember you asking Travis. I just…
0:07:09.1 Derek Webber: “How many years should I work in America before… “
0:07:11.9 Lauren Webber: America before…
0:07:11.9 Derek Webber: “Coming to be a missionary? Since this is my first… I was already in my 30s. Do I need to work a few years? What does that look like?” And he said, “You know what? Just come.”
0:07:21.1 Lauren Webber: “Just come. Just come.” He’s like, “I’m gonna… They’re not gonna teach you anything that you’re gonna need to know doing bush medicine… “
0:07:27.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. You can’t learn here.
0:07:28.7 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:07:29.5 Lauren Webber: So we started on the support raising process, and then we went to check in with Travis and Amy. They were back in the States on home assignment just a few months before going back to Uganda, before we were deployed for Uganda. And we literally arrived at their house to spend the night with them the day that he found out he had cancer.
0:07:52.1 Jim Lovelady: Oh. You got… You were there the…
0:07:54.3 Lauren Webber: The day.
0:07:54.9 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:07:57.1 Lauren Webber: Like family was showing up for them to share the news while we were there.
0:08:02.2 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:08:03.1 Lauren Webber: So that was a blow, or like, what is about to happen?
0:08:10.9 Derek Webber: And at that point, you nobody knows what that’s gonna entail with a diagnosis like that.
0:08:18.7 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:08:18.6 Derek Webber: And…
0:08:18.7 Lauren Webber: So we delayed by a few months arriving to Uganda, and during that time, I think there was…
0:08:23.7 Derek Webber: There was a crisis in the DRC. ‘Cause Bundibugyo was literally like a six to eight kilometers from the border. And so a crisis over there causes refugees to come to Uganda.
0:08:38.8 Lauren Webber: Thousands.
0:08:39.2 Derek Webber: Yeah. So they had several hundred, or several… I think around 60,000, 66,000 refugees come in. And so it was overwhelming for the entire team.
0:08:46.7 Lauren Webber: Yeah, yeah.
0:08:47.7 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:08:48.6 Lauren Webber: So we delayed by a few months and returned with our new team leaders at that time.
0:08:56.9 Derek Webber: In the fall.
0:08:57.0 Lauren Webber: The Stevens. In the fall, yes. And talk about Grace at the Fray.
0:09:01.5 Derek Webber: Yes.
0:09:01.6 Lauren Webber: There was a lot of fray.
0:09:03.6 Jim Lovelady: A lot of fray.
0:09:03.9 Derek Webber: A lot of fray.
0:09:04.2 Lauren Webber: And a lot of grace to go around. But we… I mean… Oh, man. Yeah. I mean, the whole team, we were just grieving, of course. The team that had had done life in Bundibugyo with Travis and Amy were just grieving to a level that we couldn’t even go to. So it was… that was a challenging season for everyone. It’s not ideal to enter the field in grief. But that was the story that God wrote for us was to enter in a place of brokenness. And it was a lot. It was a lot in the first couple years. And it kind of culminated and we had… We ended up, kind of after blow upon blow, blow and blow, we ended up having a miscarriage that really was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back like, “We gotta get outta here and we gotta go get some help. We got to… We need life breathed back into us. Somebody, put the oxygen mask on [laughter] or this ship is gonna sink.”
0:10:10.4 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:10:11.1 Derek Webber: We appreciate the member care department was like, “You know what, let’s… You guys need to have a debrief. You need to have some time… “
0:10:20.1 Lauren Webber: To regroup.
0:10:20.2 Derek Webber: “To regroup.” And from this time of debrief and from this time of regrouping came the idea, “Hey, why don’t you take a year, to do an internship at a mission hospital outside of Bundibugyo? It’s still in the East Africa region. Have some time of mentorship, have some time of understanding how this medical system in East Africa really works.” And so that was the series of events that led us to go to Chogoria for a year. Yeah. So 2016, we arrived in Kenya, we arrived to Chogoria with a newborn and two kids in tow, and that was gonna be starting a year of interning at the hospital, rotating through the departments at the hospital, getting good broad strokes.
0:11:07.9 Lauren Webber: Getting the mentorship that we had hoped to get at the beginning. And then…
0:11:12.9 Derek Webber: And then halfway through that, or a little bit more than halfway through that, we had one of these company-wide conferences where we all got together and we saw our team and they’re like, “You guys are doing really good. Tell us about what’s going on.”
0:11:26.7 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:11:28.6 Derek Webber: And through series of conversations, they’re like, “Why don’t you think about, pray about, take some time, is this a better fit for you guys?”
0:11:36.7 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:11:37.4 Jim Lovelady: Interesting. So I think that that’s beautiful because you guys both work in the medical field and you found yourself going to work at a hospital and that’s where you found healing.
0:11:55.2 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:11:55.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. All the healing this…
0:12:00.1 Lauren Webber: Turned the tables.
0:12:00.2 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:12:00.3 Jim Lovelady: That you’re in need of, and then it just works really well for you. And so you’ve been there for seven years now.
0:12:06.8 Derek Webber: Exactly. Exactly. It was something that we were not expecting. We were, “Bundibugyo or bust”.
0:12:13.6 Jim Lovelady: Oh, okay.
0:12:14.6 Derek Webber: We were in that category. And little did we know that through God’s providence, he wanted to change that up. He wanted to bring us to the place of where we saw a tremendous need, tremendous suffering, where we experienced that of our own personal rope, if you will…
0:12:32.6 Jim Lovelady: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
0:12:35.3 Derek Webber: So that we can see that it’s not about us and what we can do, but it’s about what the Lord can do through a willing vessel.
0:12:42.2 Lauren Webber: Yeah. What he’s already doing.
0:12:43.6 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:12:43.9 Lauren Webber: He’s already doing.
0:12:46.4 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:12:46.5 Lauren Webber: He was already in Bundibugyo…
0:12:47.2 Derek Webber: Long before.
0:12:48.0 Lauren Webber: Long before us and is still there doing amazing things. And same thing with Chogoria. I mean, it’s just a privilege to be a witness to what he is, to what he is doing.
0:13:01.2 Jim Lovelady: I must confess, when I was a kid, I grew up in the church and like a missionary would come and visit and they would always be a doctor in Africa. [laughter] That’s what it is. So like… So you guys, from my eight-year-old Jim imagination are like, “Oh, so these are real missionaries.” You know that whole thing?
0:13:24.7 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:13:25.2 Jim Lovelady: That there’s a sense in which there’s this sentimentality or romanticism about, “Go be a missionary in Africa.” And I appreciate that there’s a lot of things about y’all’s story that dismantles the ideas that this is like the pinnacle of… I don’t know. It’s a silly thing. And well, from my story, it worked its way all the way until I kind of had this idea that, well, for me to be the best Christian I could be, I gotta become a missionary. And Jesus promptly broke me on the mission field because… That’s the saying that we always… Being on the mission field is like pouring Miracle-Gro on your sin.
0:14:11.1 Lauren Webber: On your sin.
0:14:11.7 Derek Webber: Yes.
0:14:12.1 Lauren Webber: Absolutely, yes.
0:14:12.8 Jim Lovelady: And so paint me a picture of how, actually, it’s just a normal life in desperation. Maybe one of the differences is that you have put yourself in places where you are more desperate or… I don’t know. Well, de-romanticize it for me.
0:14:35.9 Derek Webber: It’s interesting. The thing that I’ve always said about missionary work is if you’re not doing it in America or whatever community you’re in before you go, you’re not gonna do it when you get there.
0:14:48.3 Jim Lovelady: That’s good.
0:14:49.5 Derek Webber: And so if you are involved in your home church and you’re passionate about making sure that people know the gospel where you’re at, that’s a great starting point…
0:15:00.9 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:15:01.0 Derek Webber: …for being able to go cross-culturally or internationally or whatever. And so we were certainly involved where we were at in our church back in the States. And so that’s what we’re continuing to do. The common graces that we receive in the US at our jobs and in school doing education are the same graces we drop on when we’re serving internationally. Getting up and going to the hospital, like in any sort of mercy ministry, we don’t know what’s gonna come in that day. And I work in emergency department. It could be someone who has a belly pain, could be someone who has been involved in a road traffic accident. And so, yeah. So the grace that we call upon God to help us treating both of these type of patients and doing that with the hope of investing in the next generation of Kenyan medical leadership in the country. And so we love our brothers and sisters there. We love that opportunity to work alongside and see what God is going to do that day.
0:16:05.7 Jim Lovelady: Well, my understanding is that it’s actually that you work under…
0:16:10.6 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:16:10.6 Jim Lovelady: National leadership.
0:16:10.9 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:16:11.9 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:16:13.7 Jim Lovelady: So tell me what that’s like.
0:16:14.2 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:16:14.2 Jim Lovelady: Because that’s a whole culture shift, especially in like a post-colonial…
0:16:18.4 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:16:18.4 Jim Lovelady: There’s so much baggage.
0:16:21.0 Lauren Webber: Oh, yeah.
0:16:21.3 Jim Lovelady: Imperialism, I’m sure you have plenty of stories about…
0:16:23.3 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:16:25.1 Jim Lovelady: How people are skittish about white folk coming over to bring their colonialistic “religion” or whatever it may be. So what’s that been like?
0:16:35.4 Lauren Webber: You show up as an American and you don’t realize it, people just automatically have expectations of you…
0:16:42.9 Jim Lovelady: Oh, yeah.
0:16:43.6 Lauren Webber: Assumptions…
0:16:44.6 Jim Lovelady: Assumptions.
0:16:47.0 Lauren Webber: About you, what your program is…
0:16:48.8 Jim Lovelady: Oh interesting.
0:16:49.2 Lauren Webber: What you are going to do. And you don’t realize that. But we have had to… we have realized it from our time in Bundibugyo and then in Chogoria as well. And we realized early on we are… Like to be co-pilots, partnered with a national leader who is steering the ship and really can grasp the cultural piece, the cultural aspect of what is God doing here and where does he want to take this ministry. So one thing that we’ve seen Americans do in the past is have a really great idea, and then come try to implement it and it just crashed and burned.
0:17:39.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. ’cause it’s not contextualized at all.
0:17:43.4 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:17:43.5 Lauren Webber: I distinctly remember sitting down to write a newsletter and looking at Derek and being like, “Alright, babe, hadn’t written a newsletter in three months. What’s the best thing that’s happened at the hospital in three months?” And he’s thinking, he’s thinking, he’s thinking, he’s like, “You know what? I got a table moved from the front of casualty to the back of casualty. We moved the table and it’s taken three months. Had to get approval from committees and they had to vote on it, are we gonna move the table? And then there had to be a process in place for this to happen.”
0:18:17.1 Derek Webber: It’s working within the system that already exists.
0:18:20.4 Lauren Webber: Yes, yes. Yeah.
0:18:21.3 Derek Webber: And it’s saying, I’m not going to step over…
0:18:24.0 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:18:26.8 Derek Webber: The current system, That would be very, very American…
0:18:26.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:18:27.1 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:18:27.2 Derek Webber: To just say, “You know what I gotta… “
0:18:28.7 Lauren Webber: “We’re gonna move the table.”
0:18:30.0 Derek Webber: “Guns a blazing. I see a better, more… “
0:18:32.5 Lauren Webber: System.
0:18:34.3 Derek Webber: “Efficient system, and I’m gonna implement it.”
0:18:35.6 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:18:36.0 Derek Webber: “And so I’m gonna move this table. I’m gonna move something. And I don’t really care who that’s gonna interrupt their flow, because I think this is a more efficient flow.” And so the idea is, if I’m going to partner with my Kenyan colleagues, if I’m going to show that I love them, then I’m going to ask them, “How can I go about this?”
0:19:00.7 Jim Lovelady: Uh-huh.
0:19:01.1 Derek Webber: And so it’s about the relationship.
0:19:04.3 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:19:04.4 Derek Webber: It’s about finding out what is their preference so that we can be able to come together. There’s an African proverb that says, if you wanna go… I’m probably not gonna remember it exactly. If you wanna go far, you go alone.
0:19:20.1 Jim Lovelady: If you wanna go fast.
0:19:21.6 Derek Webber: Fast.
0:19:21.7 Lauren Webber: Fast, you go alone. [laughter]
0:19:22.8 Derek Webber: Yes. If you wanna go far, you go together.
0:19:24.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:19:25.1 Derek Webber: And that is a wonderful proverb that really sums it up. And it’s like, if we want get a goal of sharing the gospel, then we need to go together. And how do we learn how to go together? And it’s not gonna be stepping over you. It’s not gonna be stepping on you. It’s gonna be coming together.
0:19:44.2 Lauren Webber: Coming together. One of the coolest things that we’ve been able to do in Chogoria is when we’ve done the Gospel-Centered Life Bible study together with our Kenyan colleagues and going through… Just what a gospel-centered community looks like and getting their understanding of, what does gospel-centered living look like together in a multi-ethnic community in which we are working and living alongside each other? And like you said, just getting that rub on a daily basis, how do we submit and love to one another and stay bound in the gospel? And it’s been one of the greatest things that we have done that’s been transformative in our community. It’s given us language to use as we build, yeah, a community that’s anchored in the gospel and moving forward together, not as American and Kenyan, but as brothers and sisters in Christ.
0:20:53.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Y’all have used the word that you live on a compound.
0:20:57.1 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:20:57.7 Jim Lovelady: So what does that even mean? [laughter] Because when you talk about living a life together, I got Dietrich Bonhoeffer floating around in my mind.
0:21:09.2 Derek Webber: Yeah. So where we live, there’s a compound for the hospital. So you can imagine all the patients at the hospital, the clinics, the surgery, the wards, everything is down at the hospital. And then apart from that, there is a fenced-in area in which all the doctors and missionaries tend to live and work.
0:21:28.3 Jim Lovelady: Okay.
0:21:28.7 Derek Webber: And so it’s a large area, several acres, and there’s about 22 individual family units. So that could be like a single physician up to a married physician without kids, to…
0:21:42.7 Lauren Webber: A large family.
0:21:43.4 Derek Webber: A large family.
0:21:44.3 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:21:45.6 Derek Webber: And so we all live together, whether it be single house structures or apartment complex.
0:21:51.1 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:21:52.8 Derek Webber: And so we live up there. So our commute to work is coming outside your door, walking on the road that goes to the hospital and you see your colleagues. So we’re all walking down…
0:22:03.6 Lauren Webber: Kinda like catching the bus together.
0:22:04.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:22:04.9 Lauren Webber: Everybody walks down together.
0:22:09.0 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:22:09.5 Lauren Webber: And then the moms, the homeschool moms, “Alright, I’m sending my kid to your house. Yours are coming over here. They’re gonna do math and they’re gonna do language arts, and then in an hour we’re gonna swap.” And… Yeah. And what’s been cool is, yeah, you walk down with your Kenyan colleagues and some of the Kenyan moms have started homeschooling as well. So we’re also rubbing shoulders with our Kenyan families, our American families. It’s very integrated together of doing life with one another.
0:22:45.8 Derek Webber: One of the interesting things is like, we’ve all seen a Venn diagram where the circles kind of tend to overlap a little bit. And so if we segment very much Americans, we like to segment our life, this is my work life, this is my church life, this is my family, these are my friends, and those four circles, they tend to overlap a little bit. You might have somebody who you go to work with that also was your friend, or you play cards together or something. Where we live, we have one circle and everything is in it. And so our Venn diagram is basically a circle.
0:23:17.0 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:23:17.9 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:23:17.9 Derek Webber: Rather than multiple circles, if that makes sense.
0:23:20.1 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:23:20.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:23:20.5 Derek Webber: So it’s more than just your neighbor and you never know them. I can remember growing up…
0:23:24.7 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah.
0:23:25.2 Derek Webber: You know them when their dog barks or there’s an issue that comes on the property line or whatever. But not here.
0:23:32.8 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:23:34.3 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. The architecture of community is different. So the struggles of conflict and conflict resolution are very evident and if we want to… [chuckle] If we wanna continue without this destroying us, we’re gonna have to work this out.
0:23:53.5 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:23:53.7 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:23:54.1 Jim Lovelady: Versus, “Oh, I’m just never gonna talk to that person again.” And…
0:23:58.0 Lauren Webber: Right. It’s not possible.
0:23:58.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. It’s impossible. So the benefit of living in a community like that means you get to practice conflict resolution a lot.
0:24:09.3 Lauren Webber: A lot.
0:24:09.9 Derek Webber: A lot.
0:24:10.4 Lauren Webber: A lot.
0:24:10.7 Jim Lovelady: How?
0:24:10.8 Lauren Webber: A lot.
0:24:12.5 Jim Lovelady: Okay. So how? How do you resolve conflict?
0:24:14.2 Lauren Webber: Okay. Well, yeah.
0:24:17.6 Jim Lovelady: Teach me.
0:24:18.0 Lauren Webber: Well, yeah. [laughter] Well, I’m thinking of a story. I wasn’t involved in this situation, so I can talk about it. [laughter]
0:24:26.0 Jim Lovelady: A friend. Not me. A friend.
0:24:29.3 Lauren Webber: Yeah. A friend, right. But no, I’m thinking of a story in which our chaplains had to get involved and it involved sharing the gospel at the hospital. I think Derek, you had admitted a patient one day, and then there was a visiting physician. And we love this guy. I mean, great guy, loves the Lord, is on fire, wants people to know him, wants to see people brought into the Kingdom. So he, I think rounded after you admitted this patient, and clearly, the guy was probably gonna pass within a few days, just diffuse cancer all over.
0:25:10.9 Derek Webber: He had cancer all through his…
0:25:12.5 Lauren Webber: All over.
0:25:13.1 Derek Webber: His lungs and everything.
0:25:14.4 Lauren Webber: And of course, of course, he wanted the guy to know the Lord and needed to know that he had at least had an opportunity to accept the Lord before passing. And so, graciously shared the gospel with him on rounds and just made sure that he understood the gospel message and had been introduced to Jesus. All the things that we would say are the right things you should do as an American.
0:25:45.2 Derek Webber: As an American on a short-term mission trip.
0:25:47.4 Jim Lovelady: Gotcha. Yep.
0:25:48.2 Lauren Webber: Right. And there’s the chaplains or the family…
0:25:52.3 Derek Webber: Yeah. The family came.
0:25:52.7 Lauren Webber: Came and found Derek later and was like, “What are you guys doing? This is terrible. This is a horrible thing. My son has stopped eating and he’s now in this deep depression and he’s not gonna come out of this hole that he’s been put in.” And lo and behold, the way that we had been sharing the gospel with patients was totally wrong.
0:26:20.6 Derek Webber: Culturally, you don’t tell somebody they’re gonna die. Culturally, you don’t give a diagnosis that way.
0:26:25.7 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:26:26.0 Derek Webber: How we did it was very very straightforward.
0:26:27.2 Lauren Webber: It’s opposite in America how you, the clinician, is obligated to deliver it to the patient.
0:26:31.5 Jim Lovelady: Give it to me straight, doc.
0:26:33.0 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:26:33.1 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:26:33.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:26:33.6 Lauren Webber: Even we’re legally bound to disclose things so that they understand and can make decisions. And it is not that way in Kenya.
0:26:41.4 Jim Lovelady: Oh, fascinating.
0:26:41.7 Lauren Webber: You disclose to family members, and then the family decides what is important for the patient.
0:26:49.9 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:26:50.9 Lauren Webber: And a lot of times patients will be passing and not know.
0:26:55.6 Derek Webber: The full diagnosis or the full information and things like that.
0:26:58.5 Lauren Webber: Yes. And so it had actually been perceived that in sharing this with the patient, that you are actually stealing, stealing, thieving, stealing his hope…
0:27:12.3 Jim Lovelady: Oh, wow.
0:27:13.3 Lauren Webber: Taking the hope, the hope that he had as far as God’s general grace of putting the hope of life in all of us, and that we had come in and taken that from him. And so now… And we’ve learned just the power that are in words.
0:27:32.1 Derek Webber: Spoken words.
0:27:33.0 Lauren Webber: Spoken words from an African standpoint, from a Kenyan standpoint. Oh man, Derek has received some tongue lashings at work for…
0:27:43.0 Derek Webber: Saying.
0:27:43.3 Lauren Webber: For saying, for stating clinically what the picture was. And you can’t do that.
0:27:50.7 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:27:51.1 Lauren Webber: You can’t do that.
0:27:51.7 Jim Lovelady: That’s a great example.
0:27:53.2 Lauren Webber: Yeah. And so…
0:27:53.9 Derek Webber: It really is. And luckily, the instances where my Kenyan nurses or colleagues have pulled me aside and said, “Please don’t ever say that.”
0:28:06.1 Lauren Webber: You cannot do that.
0:28:06.6 Derek Webber: “You can never say that to a patient.” That’s out of grace.
0:28:10.5 Jim Lovelady: Right. Right.
0:28:11.5 Derek Webber: That’s out of their love for me…
0:28:13.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Yeah.
0:28:13.9 Derek Webber: From working together. And so I appreciate when they’ve done that, ’cause now it’s set me on the right track of knowing what to say, when to say it, how to communicate in another culture is far beyond just the words, but it’s the way and the how and the meaning behind them that has helped me. Which is why we’re so passionate about talking to our short-term members and ones who come and visit us about, “Okay, when you come here, realize these certain conversations, it’s not that they’re taboo, it’s just that we need to go at them in a different direction than we would if we were in an American-based… “
0:28:57.0 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:28:57.0 Derek Webber: “Healthcare system and that culture which comes very natural to us.”
0:29:01.3 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:29:01.6 Derek Webber: That we just shoot from the hip.
0:29:02.8 Jim Lovelady: That’s right. That’s right.
0:29:03.9 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:29:04.2 Jim Lovelady: We’re so agenda-driven…
0:29:05.5 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:29:05.8 Jim Lovelady: That we forget about the people.
0:29:07.5 Lauren Webber: And I think as missionaries too, like you just… You have this passion that… And this, just conviction that I need to be out there sharing the gospel with people. And that’s a very good and right conviction, but when you are working in a collectivistic and indirect culture…
0:29:31.1 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:29:32.1 Lauren Webber: The way you go about it is very important. And so we see in our role, a lot of it is, yeah, working hand-in-hand with those chaplains and with our Christian colleagues at the hospital, they’re the ones that know the how to best minister.
0:29:52.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:29:52.5 Lauren Webber: In this context.
0:29:53.4 Derek Webber: They’re the insiders.
0:29:54.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Yeah.
0:29:55.1 Lauren Webber: So we work in collaboration of, we wanna make sure that the gospel is presented, but we wanna do it in a way…
0:30:03.7 Jim Lovelady: Oh, this is so good. Okay. So you have this calling, go make disciples of all nations. And you’re an American. We’re Americans here.
0:30:15.0 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:30:15.4 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:30:16.2 Jim Lovelady: And it’s like, “Oh, get her done.”
0:30:18.8 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:30:20.6 Jim Lovelady: We got this. And it reminds me of what our mutual friends, Jeremy and Angel…
0:30:24.8 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:30:25.0 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:30:25.1 Jim Lovelady: The interview that I did with them last season…
0:30:27.4 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:30:28.0 Jim Lovelady: Was just the importance of, what does it look like to love these people?
0:30:32.4 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:30:33.1 Jim Lovelady: And how them being where they were was teaching them how to love… Jesus was teaching them how to love the people more than their agenda, whatever agenda that they might have. And then you have this value that you have in Chogoria of submitting yourself to the national leadership. That’s a beautiful story of, “Oh, no, this is actually how it works itself out.”
0:30:58.5 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:30:58.7 Jim Lovelady: “This is where the rubber meets the road for how when they say, ‘Don’t say that,’ I’m not gonna say it.”
0:31:07.0 Derek Webber: Yeah. Exactly. [laughter]
0:31:08.5 Jim Lovelady: Even though everything in my bones is like, “Well, this is… But what… ” Just, you become…
0:31:15.0 Lauren Webber: And you realize you’ve probably said it 10 times before they’ve actually worked up the courage to say, “Please don’t say that.”
0:31:22.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:31:22.9 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:31:24.6 Lauren Webber: So one thing that we have ingrained in people who come is that repentance has got to be a part of your language. You are gonna be repenting every day in ways you don’t even realize that you need to, but you need to.
0:31:38.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. And that’s a tricky… This is a tricky one. I love this story because it’s so easy for us to be like, “Well, I’m not wrong. The dude, I want the dude to know Jesus.”
0:31:47.9 Lauren Webber: Exactly. Right.
0:31:48.1 Jim Lovelady: “I’m not wrong.” And it’s like, no, you’re wrong. You need… Just say “I’m sorry.”
0:31:55.4 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:31:55.6 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:31:55.8 Jim Lovelady: And start over because you’re missing it. You’re missing the person because of the way that you’re approaching this. And it’s… It really is… It’s a paradigm shift.
0:32:07.3 Derek Webber: It really is.
0:32:07.9 Lauren Webber: Yeah. Yeah.
0:32:08.7 Derek Webber: And it’s something that God has given us the ability to practice on a daily basis.
0:32:15.4 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:32:16.5 Derek Webber: Because it’s not something that comes normal. It doesn’t come natural. It’s fighting those instincts, those urges that we feel that this is the normal way in which I do the something. We equate it to, I am a right-handed, and so I write with my right hand, I use my mouse for my computer, my right hand, but when I’m here, I’m using my left.
0:32:39.6 Jim Lovelady: Oh, okay.
0:32:40.7 Derek Webber: And so, can I do it? I’m not ambidextrous, but yet I can kind of manage. And so, it’s learning how to do something different and then saying this is more contextual.
0:32:51.0 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:32:51.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. That’s really good.
0:32:52.7 Lauren Webber: A great example that I’m thinking about of, yeah, how the gospel goes forth in our community, we… A few years ago, there was a new couple that had been within our community, working at the hospital for about a year, and they were newly married, they integrated so well just into our bible study, into our culture, book club that we were doing. They were at every… Just a life in our community. She got pregnant and soon after, had a flare up of a GI condition that she didn’t realize was still an issue, and very, very quickly, started spiraling and getting really, really sick. She was admitted to our ICU. Every single one of our doctors at the hospital were involved in doing surgery and getting medicine, really expensive medicines to try to save her life to the very end and she ended up passing.
0:34:05.0 Jim Lovelady: Wow.
0:34:05.3 Derek Webber: One of our colleagues.
0:34:07.0 Lauren Webber: One of our close colleagues. And it was a blow to our community, just grieving. And I remember just everybody that had been up the night before trying to save her life, walking from the hospital up to our compound to share with her family who had been staying in their house while she was sick that she had passed. And the family, of course, was in grief. Our community was in grief. And so what… traditionally, by Kenyan tradition, what would happen next is that her body would be taken to the family’s ancestral land, and then they would receive family and friends from all over the country, kind of like a wake, but that would last an…
0:34:56.0 Derek Webber: A wake, mourning.
0:34:58.0 Lauren Webber: A time of mourning that would last an entire week at the family’s home. They said, “You know what, that needs to happen here. We have seen as you guys have cared for her in her time of sickness and we have, even before she was sick, knew that you guys, how you guys did life with one another and served our daughter and her husband and have seen you come alongside us in grief. This is the place that it needs to happen.” So it started a week-long process of welcoming family and friends from all over the country, serving chai around the clock, food around the clock, someone, or people…
0:35:44.4 Derek Webber: Having to service every night…
0:35:45.9 Lauren Webber: Having to sit… Yeah.
0:35:46.5 Lauren Webber: After we all get off work…
0:35:47.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:35:48.1 Derek Webber: To be able to go there and sit with the family and sing songs and speak words of encouragement to one another for seven days.
0:35:55.3 Lauren Webber: And just… Yeah. And grieve, and just grieve and grieve and grieve.
0:36:00.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:36:00.5 Lauren Webber: Yeah, for seven days. And it was so cathartic. And also just so healing I think for us, for people outside of our community to see how we as brothers and sisters work together alongside each other in the ministry, at the hospital, and that we don’t do it perfectly, and that we don’t always have good endings to the stories, but that we also grieve and enter into…
0:36:36.3 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:36:36.4 Lauren Webber: The brokenness with one another. We do it together. It really bound our community together and give us language for the hard, the hard work…
0:36:49.2 Jim Lovelady: Oh, absolutely.
0:36:50.0 Lauren Webber: That you guys enter into on a daily basis, entering into those stories of grief with people.
0:36:58.1 Derek Webber: And it’s not like we as westerners, as missionaries really knew what we were doing. We were looking towards our Kenyan colleagues to be able to say, “What do we do now? How can we best serve this family that we’ve all worked together for?”
0:37:13.6 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:37:14.3 Derek Webber: And it didn’t have the outcome that any of us wanted.
0:37:16.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Nobody wanted that.
0:37:17.2 Derek Webber: Nobody wanted that.
0:37:18.9 Lauren Webber: Right. Right.
0:37:19.6 Derek Webber: And so, how can we enter into the grief with one another? How can we serve them?
0:37:23.9 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:37:24.0 Derek Webber: And so they’re like, “Yeah, we need to do it like this, and we need to do it like this.” And we’re like, “Yes.” And it was a lot of work.
0:37:30.4 Lauren Webber: And it was a huge learning…
0:37:32.1 Derek Webber: Huge learning curve.
0:37:33.3 Lauren Webber: Huge learning curve. A kind of a funny thing in that story is we would show up every night for worship and for sharing and everybody’s together and our… People won’t be able to see this on the podcast, but our Kenyan brothers and sisters would periodically throughout the timer where they’d go like this…
0:37:55.0 Derek Webber: They give us the eyebrows.
0:37:56.8 Jim Lovelady: The eyebrows. What are the eyebrows…
0:37:58.1 Lauren Webber: The eyebrows, right?
0:37:58.4 Derek Webber: Well, you know what, that’s when I sat there.
0:38:00.9 Lauren Webber: The eyebrows.
0:38:01.0 Derek Webber: “What’s the eyebrows, babe?”
0:38:04.1 Lauren Webber: “What? What are you trying to tell me? What?”
0:38:06.6 Lauren Webber: And they’re communicating with their eyebrows. I’m like, “What is this? Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be doing something right now and I don’t know what it is.”
0:38:14.4 Jim Lovelady: “What am I not doing?”
0:38:15.0 Lauren Webber: “What am I not doing?”
0:38:16.0 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:38:16.4 Lauren Webber: And, so out of that time, we just… we laugh and we still joke with our Kenyan colleagues. And it’s so hilarious. It’s such a picture of the difference in our cultures.
0:38:25.6 Derek Webber: It’s non-verbal communication.
0:38:26.8 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:38:27.0 Jim Lovelady: Well, what does it mean?
0:38:28.7 Lauren Webber: It can mean anything. [laughter]
0:38:30.1 Derek Webber: Oh, no. [laughter]
0:38:31.3 Lauren Webber: Oh, look, look, earlier this week, I asked my child something and she gave me eyebrows.
0:38:36.6 Jim Lovelady: She… your child gave you the eyebrows?
0:38:38.2 Lauren Webber: Yeah. I mean, she’s been in Kenyan class for like the whole year and she’s giving me the eyebrows. “The eyebrows. You’re starting it.” It’s like this code. They know what they’re communicating.
0:38:50.0 Jim Lovelady: That’s awesome.
0:38:50.6 Derek Webber: When you’re an insider, you know non-verbal communication.
0:38:53.3 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:38:53.6 Derek Webber: And so it’s like any sort of non-verbal communication, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head right now, but an insider knows to communicate to one another.
0:39:02.7 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:39:03.3 Derek Webber: In that context, I think it was…
0:39:04.8 Lauren Webber: Clearly, after all these years, we’re still not insiders.
0:39:07.6 Derek Webber: We’re still learning.
0:39:08.4 Jim Lovelady: Throw it on the pile of things to submit yourself to this culture so that you can love them, not have an agenda for them.
0:39:18.0 Lauren Webber: Yes. Yeah.
0:39:18.3 Jim Lovelady: And all the way down to the eyebrows. [laughter]
0:39:19.4 Lauren Webber: All the way down to the eyebrows.
0:39:22.1 Jim Lovelady: Body and soul, eyebrows…
0:39:22.7 Lauren Webber: And so it is, it’s humbling because you come home with stories of like, I cannot figure this out, but everybody in the room knew what was going on.
0:39:34.0 Jim Lovelady: Everyone knows.
0:39:34.3 Lauren Webber: They were giving each other eyebrows. They knew what was going on. I can’t figure it out. [laughter]
0:39:38.6 Jim Lovelady: That’s so funny.
0:39:39.3 Lauren Webber: That’s funny, the next day you wanna pull someone inside and say, “So what was I supposed to be doing?”
0:39:43.1 Jim Lovelady: Uh-huh.
0:39:43.9 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:39:45.9 Derek Webber: I can remember, we were gonna go to an important event and I was… My cultural helper, he was gonna be riding with me to the event and he showed up at our house and he says, “Webber,” I said, “Yes?” “Are you going to wear that?” I said, “Well, I was planning on it.” And he’s like…
0:40:05.6 Lauren Webber: “You need to go change.”
0:40:06.4 Derek Webber: “You need to go and change.” And I said, “Okay. Tell me about… What am I doing wrong? What do I need to add or whatnot?” And so he helped me by telling me the most appropriate thing to wear to this very important meeting that we were going to. So God bless him that he was able to speak to me in a way in which… ’cause he’s been around…
0:40:26.9 Jim Lovelady: You understood.
0:40:27.5 Derek Webber: That I understood. Because he knew westerners. He knew that he needed to say, “The clothes you’re wearing is not appropriate. You can’t wear jeans to go see this guy. You gotta put on this. You gotta do this and whatnot.” And luckily, I have another friend that was in Uganda. I have another friend in Kenya that does the same thing. He’s like, “You’ve been invited to this ceremony or graduation or whatever.” He’s like, “What are you going to wear?” He’s like, “This is what you should wear.” And I’m like, “Thank you so much.”
0:40:58.8 Jim Lovelady: Right.
0:41:00.3 Derek Webber: “You’re the insider helping me to understand.”
0:41:02.4 Lauren Webber: Yeah, yeah.
0:41:02.5 Jim Lovelady: This is life together. The humility that is required really is… That’s what’s remarkable, right? Because every one of those little eyebrow things or whatever kind of miscommunication or whatever failed expectation on the culture that you’re serving their part or your part, the table, I wanna hear more about the table and like…
0:41:26.1 Lauren Webber: It was a struggle. It was a struggle. He just went and moved the table.
0:41:27.9 Jim Lovelady: Right, right. It’s… I just… it’s… And the temptation to be like, “In America, this never would have happened.” Well, actually, in America, the opportunity for this kind of humility and love never could have happened.
0:41:46.3 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:41:46.5 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:41:47.3 Jim Lovelady: And so that’s forcing life to be rubbing shoulders in such a way where a table becomes a place… Wanting to move a table and having to work months to get a table moved is where Jesus makes you more like him.
0:42:09.2 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:42:09.4 Lauren Webber: Exactly.
0:42:09.6 Jim Lovelady: So how… tell me more about the table. How did you… No, no, no, don’t tell me about the table. Tell me about your heart. And you come home and you’re like, “Lauren… ” What was it? How do you contend with Jesus about a table that is so easy to move, but it just won’t move because… bureaucracy, whatever?
0:42:35.8 Derek Webber: Yeah, yeah. Trying to enter into a conversation in which you want someone else to come up with the same plan that you have. That’s how this began.
0:42:47.0 Lauren Webber: Well, I mean, let’s just lay it straight. Okay. The idol of efficiency.
0:42:56.1 Derek Webber: Efficiency.
0:42:56.2 Lauren Webber: Efficiency.
0:42:56.3 Derek Webber: That’s what it is.
0:42:56.3 Lauren Webber: That Americans have.
0:43:00.0 Derek Webber: Yes.
0:43:00.1 Lauren Webber: Efficiency.
0:43:00.4 Derek Webber: Efficiency is…
0:43:00.5 Lauren Webber: Okay. I want this room to run in this way. I don’t want patients to go to the back of the room and then see this person…
0:43:09.5 Derek Webber: Every stop before they get back to that table.
0:43:16.9 Jim Lovelady: Okay, gotcha.
0:43:22.2 Derek Webber: I want the efficiency to be prominent so that our blood pressure and all that sort of stuff, our triage can be done at the front of the hospital, hospital room, as opposed to the back. And I don’t wanna be bothered by every single person coming back.
0:43:25.9 Jim Lovelady: Uh-huh. Gotcha. Nailed it. [laughter]
0:43:27.7 Lauren Webber: Yeah, get down to it. It’s the idol.
0:43:29.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, that’s what it is.
0:43:31.5 Lauren Webber: I mean, in any conflict that you have, I mean, what is the idol…
0:43:35.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, that’s Right.
0:43:36.9 Lauren Webber: That I am holding onto right now?
0:43:39.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:43:40.8 Lauren Webber: And…
0:43:40.9 Derek Webber: And it came from me just standing in our emergency department saying, “Man, every time I’m sitting here, I’m getting bugged, I’m getting bothered, I’m getting… My work day is being interrupted. And if I push this, if I arrange it this way, then my day will be probably more efficient.”
0:44:00.0 Jim Lovelady: Uh-huh. More productive, more… Yeah.
0:44:01.8 Lauren Webber: And then at the end of the day, I am going to feel better about myself and my work because I have seen X many patients or been able to get this much done or whatever.
0:44:15.5 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:44:16.8 Lauren Webber: Which, yeah, it’s just idols. It’s just idols.
0:44:18.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah. And you follow the emotion, whatever the emotion might be, frustration, anger, short temper.
0:44:23.0 Lauren Webber: Again, we had…
0:44:27.6 Jim Lovelady: Why?
0:44:28.1 Lauren Webber: Yeah. Why? We had, again, a gracious friend, Kenyan friend say to us, “You know, we didn’t have all of these problems until you Americans showed up and showed us that we had these problems.”
0:44:42.7 Derek Webber: Oh.
0:44:42.9 Lauren Webber: Ouch!
0:44:45.4 Jim Lovelady: Oh.
0:44:47.4 Lauren Webber: Ouch! Oh!
0:44:49.2 Derek Webber: That was a trusted Kenyan…
0:44:50.1 Lauren Webber: “So the table’s not a problem for you guys. Y’all don’t see it?” I said, “Okay. Alright. Y’all are cool. You’re cool with the table or whatever the thing is.”
0:44:56.7 Derek Webber: ‘Cause you can substitute it for anything else.
0:44:58.6 Lauren Webber: For anything. Yeah, anything.
0:45:00.6 Jim Lovelady: I love these stories because they’re just simple little stories, but they reach into the depth of your soul and bring out, like you said, bring out the idolatry. Here’s this little idol that you’ve been worshiping the idol of efficiency, the idol of, well, even the idol of making, making the great commission an idol…
0:45:20.4 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:45:20.6 Jim Lovelady: If it’s not submitted to Jesus and with the patience of trusting the spirit to guide you, if it… My favorite verse, I always say it, I don’t know how many episodes of the podcast I’ve said it, is neither circumcision or uncircumcision is of any value but faith working itself out in love. So it’s like, neither the table being where it is nor the table being moved to a more efficient place is of any value but faith working itself out in love. Well, how do you know faith has worked itself out in love? Well, it’s because my concern is not for myself anymore, it’s for the other people around me. And the litmus test for love is, are others experiencing the Jesus through me or are they experiencing my agenda or whatever? So it’s neither a table being here or a table being there. It’s neither that understanding the eyebrows or not understanding the eyebrows [laughter] that’s of any value but faith that’s required to have a humility to go ask…
0:46:20.7 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:46:21.8 Lauren Webber: “Hey, what am I… am I loving you well?” That’s basically every little cultural conversation is, in your part, an attempt to love them better, to love folks better.
0:46:34.1 Lauren Webber: Right. Right.
0:46:34.4 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:46:35.1 Jim Lovelady: And it’s hard.
0:46:37.1 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:46:37.3 Derek Webber: Exactly. Exactly. And when we think about how we’ve got immigrant populations here in America…
0:46:46.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:46:46.5 Lauren Webber: This is something people need to…
0:46:48.4 Derek Webber: Yeah. I mean, it’s one thing to go across the world and say, “This is my job, this is my role, this is what I’ve spent the last 10 years doing,” but it’s like, we’ve got people here in our own country…
0:47:00.2 Jim Lovelady: That’s right. Yeah.
0:47:00.9 Derek Webber: And we’ve got people in our churches and people in our stores and people…
0:47:04.7 Lauren Webber: All the more important learning how to contextualize the gospel, seeing the person in front of you and…
0:47:14.4 Derek Webber: As a person made by God.
0:47:16.2 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:47:16.5 Jim Lovelady: Oh yeah. It’s like how to be the Kenyan friend that has learned to speak your language and communicate, learning to do that, being that kind of person wherever you are.
0:47:31.6 Derek Webber: Correct.
0:47:31.8 Lauren Webber: Wherever you are.
0:47:33.2 Jim Lovelady: Can you be the kind of person that sees another person in this conversation? It’s all about cross-cultural communication, but…
0:47:43.1 Derek Webber: Exactly, cross-cultural.
0:47:43.5 Jim Lovelady: Can you be… When I’m in the grocery store and I see someone who looks different from me and is not navigating the world in… It clearly looks like they’re fumbling through something they don’t know.
0:48:00.7 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:48:00.8 Jim Lovelady: The large immigrant population could use someone who is humble and generous and not impatient and, “Oh, can’t they just get their stuff together? Geez. God.” [laughter] Which is probably my heart’s normal reaction for this. But to have somebody that will walk in and go, “Hey, don’t wear those pants.”
0:48:20.7 Derek Webber: Yeah, yeah, “Don’t wear those pants.”
0:48:22.7 Lauren Webber: “You don’t need to wear those pants.” And it’s not lording it over. It’s neither being a jerk in that way, nor lording it over but this faith that works itself out in love. So when the spirit goes, “Hey, do you see that person? No one sees that person. Do you see them? Now you see them. What are you gonna do?” And the spirit goes, “What are you gonna do?” And I’m like, “I guess I could go help them.” [laughter] Help me. Help me.
0:48:52.1 Lauren Webber: Right, right.
0:48:52.2 Derek Webber: And I think that’s what’s so important about the gospels is it’s Jesus going to the outsider to help them become the insider. And it’s the exact same analogy. It’s what Jesus has done.
0:49:03.6 Jim Lovelady: Oh, that’s so good. Alright, one more story. Tell me one more story about how that leaning into that has brought… How leaning into that Jesus has brought you joy. I was talking to a friend about how she said a large percentage of her life is struggling through the condemnation of life and a smaller percentage of life is experiencing the joy of life, but then realizing that even that small percentage of when Jesus reaches in and brings his joy, that’s where… It’s overwhelming. So where have you seen it and how are you wrestling for it? How are you fighting for that?
0:49:53.1 Lauren Webber: I haven’t mentioned anything about my homeschool work, which is 95% of what I do on a daily basis. And there is so much dying to self every single day, every day. There are so many idols just in homeschooling the kids that I have to die to on a daily basis and most of it being, is my focus going to be on communicating the gospel to my children and discipling them and grace? Or am I going to be concerned about the schedule, the calendar, and what needs to get done academically in order for them to check the boxes of where they need to be in this school year? Yeah, just this idol of productivity and realizing that the greater work for me is in discipling my children. But oh, it’s messy.
It’s messy. But I just recently had some struggles with our kids and we’re packing up the house to come back on home assignment and I’m packing up the kids’ school books and I’m realizing, “Hm, didn’t finish that, or didn’t get this report done or whatever.” But I came across a piece of paper that it was something, it was something already filled out that my kids had to fill out or one of them did that was like, “What are you most grateful for?” or whatever. And my daughter had written about that she was most grateful for the family that God had placed her in and that she gets to do this life in Kenya and what a blessing and a joy it is.
I was like, “Alright. Okay, Lord. Okay. Okay. There’s the joy.” There’s the joy. There’s the joy that we are struggling, dying to self every day alongside one another. But those who I have been given to pour into, which are those in my home, first and foremost, are reaping the gifts that God promises in the Holy Spirit. And that to me felt like just the Lord saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Okay.
0:52:12.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. “I see you, I see you.”
0:52:13.1 Lauren Webber: They are reaping… “I see you, I see what you’re doing, and I am working in them. And all this other stuff that you’re over here worrying yourself about and feels really big, it’s not big. It’s not big. This is big, that the kingdom is going forth in their hearts. That is the important thing and that’s what you need to be giving yourself to every day.”
0:52:37.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. I love it how he sneaks up on you, Jesus sneaks up on you, slides a piece of paper in front of you and the spirit’s like, “Read it.”
0:52:50.2 Jim Lovelady: And this joyful king who’s sneaking around, looking for ways to love you.
0:52:58.1 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:52:58.1 Jim Lovelady: Looking for ways to show you that he sees you, that he sees your children, that your children, whether they are excited to admit it in general, but in this specific moment, they were affirming that they feel loved by their mother and father and they are joyful too.
0:53:19.6 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:53:19.8 Jim Lovelady: What a gift.
0:53:20.8 Lauren Webber: And I think it’s God’s saying, “Hey, I see your idol. I see it.”
0:53:25.6 Jim Lovelady: Uh-huh.
0:53:25.8 Lauren Webber: “And I’m not condemning you for it.”
0:53:27.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:53:28.0 Lauren Webber: “I’m not condemning you for it.”
0:53:29.0 Jim Lovelady: It’s so good.
0:53:29.8 Lauren Webber: “I’m gonna sneak around here and show you grace and that it’s okay. That the kingdom is going forth in your brokenness, in your limp, and you’re probably gonna always carry this idol or other idols as we always are. But in spite of that, I’m still at work.”
0:53:50.3 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. And through that.
0:53:51.2 Lauren Webber: “Through that I’m still at work.”
0:53:53.1 Jim Lovelady: And literally through the schoolwork. [laughter]
0:53:54.9 Lauren Webber: Right.
0:53:55.4 Jim Lovelady: The idol of schoolwork. Jesus is like…
0:53:58.6 Lauren Webber: “Here you go.”
0:54:00.5 Jim Lovelady: Oh, I love it.
0:54:00.6 Derek Webber: I would say that the way that I see some of that worked out in the hospital and in medicine and the environment that I probably am in, when every healthcare professional wants to make sure that we’re doing a good job for our patients, every healthcare professional who is trying to invest in other people in the next generation of medical professionals. There’s a way in which you are teaching a subject and you’re like, “Yeah, I think I got this.” If you can teach something very well, then you’re like, “Man, I do understand this.” I’m doing pretty good. When you’ve nailed the diagnosis of what’s going on with the patient and you feel like, “Oh gosh, I am pretty good,” but when you see the people that we are investing in excel beyond you. An example of this, what I would say as an example was when… I teach a lot of resuscitation techniques in the hospital.
0:55:05.4 Jim Lovelady: Like CPR stuff.
0:55:07.0 Derek Webber: CPR, advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support and such. And so we talk about this, we go through these intensive courses that are four days and things like that. And I’ve had some Kenyan colleagues that came as interns in our hospital, and then they got great… They were working as clinicians. They went off and got more training. They came back. They’re excited. They wanna teach this course with me. And I’m like, “This is excellent.” And they can do a much better job at teaching than what I’ve taught them. And so with that, you’re like, “Wow, they’re doing fantastic.” That’s what I’m looking for.
0:55:47.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:55:48.5 Derek Webber: It’s not about how well I’ve done. It’s not a reflection about me. It’s a reflection about what is going on.
0:55:53.2 Jim Lovelady: It’s impossible for it to be about you.
0:55:54.9 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:55:55.2 Jim Lovelady: Because they’re better than you. [laughter]
0:55:56.5 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:55:56.9 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:55:57.6 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:55:58.0 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:55:58.6 Jim Lovelady: I love it.
0:56:00.3 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:56:00.5 Derek Webber: So we’re talking about how to read EKGs. It’s a bunch of squiggly lines on a piece of paper that represent the heart and this and that. And I’m talking till I’m blue in the face, and then they say, “Webber, let me try.” And I’m like, “Great, sure.” And then there was like shaking their heads and nodding and you’re like, “I’m just gonna stand back here. You guys continue to go.” [laughter]
0:56:17.4 Jim Lovelady: Oh, that’s so good.
0:56:19.1 Derek Webber: That brings joy when we begin to be able to see that those who we feel like we’re invested in, wow, they’re doing great. They’re going far exceeding where we were. So I find joy in helping others succeed in that. And they can do it so much better in that context than even I can. And that’s fantastic.
0:56:39.0 Jim Lovelady: That’s amazing. Well, I feel like an hour isn’t enough time. I do wanna know, what are needs that the community has in terms of like… If someone’s listening, maybe they’re in med school or nursing school, but if there’s someone who might feel like the Lord’s calling them, what are some needs in your particular community that might spark interest and give some direction to someone who’s, in general, wants to do maybe medical admissions? But what are some specific needs that y’all see? Maybe not just in the medical community, but in your community in general.
0:57:23.0 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:57:23.3 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:57:23.6 Lauren Webber: Yeah. For those who wanna get their feet wet and discern if this might be something the Lord is calling them to, I will say before graduating, a lot of medical schools will allow students to do international rotations. So we do have students come, medical students come who are finishing up, they’re in their last year of medical school, usually last semester, and they come for a month-long rotation or something, just to rotate through one of the wards in the hospital and get a better idea and get a picture of what cross-cultural ministry looks like. And then there’s also a program that’s through Samaritan’s Purse. It’s called the post-residency program that’s for after they finish their…
0:58:11.1 Derek Webber: Formal education.
0:58:11.8 Lauren Webber: Their formal residency that they can then be sent out to locations like Chogoria for two-year terms and see in a longer context, “Is this something that God’s calling me to?”
0:58:24.5 Derek Webber: Yeah. And I would just encourage people to get involved in their local church because…
0:58:29.2 Lauren Webber: Yes.
0:58:30.0 Derek Webber: Like I said, I’m very much a firm believer if you’re not doing something now…
0:58:33.9 Lauren Webber: Yep.
0:58:34.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. That’s…
0:58:35.1 Derek Webber: It’s a pipe dream to think that you’re gonna start, go to another country and start doing something different.
0:58:39.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, yeah.
0:58:40.0 Lauren Webber: Yeah.
0:58:40.1 Derek Webber: So get plugged in, get serving where you are at now, whether that be…
0:58:47.9 Lauren Webber: Get involved in international ministry.
0:58:48.7 Derek Webber: Exactly.
0:58:50.0 Lauren Webber: Start feeling this rub.
0:58:51.5 Derek Webber: Yeah. Yeah.
0:58:52.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:58:53.4 Derek Webber: Start living in it. And when we first got married, I always talked, “Oh, we’re gonna live a wartime mentality.” And that was kind of misguided in the terminology…
0:59:02.6 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.
0:59:05.9 Derek Webber: But the idea is living with intention. Not in tension, but living within the tension of, how are you going to live now that’s gonna bring you outside your cultural context, bring you outside to those who are not insiders? Because that’s what life should be about.
0:59:19.2 Jim Lovelady: Exactly. Yeah. That’s so good. Thank you so much for hanging out. It was…
0:59:23.4 Lauren Webber: This is great.
0:59:24.8 Jim Lovelady: It is a lot of fun to hear all these stories. Man, I am lucky. [laughter] So yeah. Thanks for coming by.
0:59:34.1 Derek Webber: This has been a pleasure. It’s been wonderful.
0:59:36.0 Lauren Webber: Come to Chogoria. Come to…
0:59:36.1 Derek Webber: Yes.
0:59:38.7 Jim Lovelady: Ask me twice.
0:59:40.9 Lauren Webber: Cho-glorious.
0:59:41.9 Derek Webber: Yeah.
0:59:42.5 Lauren Webber: Cho-glorious.
0:59:42.6 Jim Lovelady: Cho-glorious. Is that what…
0:59:41.9 Lauren Webber: It’s what we call it.
0:59:42.7 Jim Lovelady: That’s what you call it?
0:59:44.5 Lauren Webber: Mm-hmm.
0:59:45.7 Derek Webber: Yes. It’s Cho-glorious.
0:59:45.8 Jim Lovelady: At the base of Mt. Kenya. Take me hiking.
0:59:47.5 Derek Webber: Yes.
0:59:48.7 Lauren Webber: Take you up in the mountain.
0:59:49.5 Derek Webber: Ask me twice, I’ll be there. Let’s go. Let’s go.
0:59:57.8 Jim Lovelady: How beautiful it is when kindred live together in unity. It’s like the precious oil on the head running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It’s like the dew of Mt. Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion, for there, the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore. Derek and Lauren are pursuing a Psalm 133 kind of existence where unity in the Spirit brings blessing to the world. It’s a beautiful picture of God’s kingdom. Their story is kind of a parable. The kingdom of God is like a medical compound where God’s children are so rooted in a community that they learn the culture and embrace and even love those folks unto kingdom life, not removing the DNA of a community, but redeeming that DNA, healing it, [laughter] literally healing it.
It’s the story of what the incarnation of Jesus would look like for a little community in modern-day Kenya. So what would the story of the incarnation of Jesus in your community look like? Where do you see opportunities today to be teachable, humble…to be curious, and quick to help? Those are the places where Kingdom-blessing and healing can flow down like anointing oil. Those are the opportunities for you to be God’s royal priest to intercede on behalf of a broken world, to reveal the places where the spirit is present, like the dew descending on Mt. Hermon. May the Lord make this kind of shalom a reality in your life and in mine. And if you’re listening to Derek and Lauren’s story, longing to participate in that kind of community, maybe your first step is to explore communities like this by going on a short-term mission trip.
I want you to go to serge.org and explore the page called Short-Term Teams. If you’ve never been on a one to two-week cross-cultural ministry trip, or if it’s been too long, maybe that high school youth group trip you took years ago, we have lots of opportunities for you to investigate. The effectiveness of a short-term trip expands far beyond the scope of the one or two weeks that you spend overseas. Through serving cross-culturally, you’ll re-encounter your own need for the gospel and bring a renewed vision and excitement for what the gospel can look like in your context.
But if you’ve been on mission for a while and you’ve gotten beaten up while pursuing a Jesus’ style community, (and let’s face it, one of the main reasons folks leave the mission field is because of relational conflict.) Well, if that’s where you’re at, or if you’re just burned out from ministry in general, I wanna invite you to take the Mentored Sonship course. I love taking people through this course because we work together to recover the joy of your salvation. At its best, it’s like a healing balm for the soul, as beautiful as Psalm 133.
Or if that intimate style of doing slow-paced soul care isn’t what you need, we offer a more fast-paced experience of the sonship material with our Gospel-Centered Life weekends. This is like a rejuvenating shot of gospel adrenaline for the soul, or a much needed pit stop in the fast-paced ministry race that we so often find ourselves languishing in. Come find rest for your weary soul at the Gospel-Centered Life Weekends. The next one is March 1 and 2 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Check out the show notes for links to all of these opportunities and more.
Now, the last line of Psalm 133 says this, “The Lord has ordained his blessing, life forevermore.” As you go, go with this blessing to be a royal priesthood for a world in desperate need of generous friends. 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 and 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.
Derek and Lauren Webber are Serge missionaries serving in Chogoria, Kenya where they are partnering with the PCEA Chogoria Hospital to bring hope and healing to those in central Kenya. Derek works as a Physician Assistant in the Casualty Dept. and co-leads ACLS/BLS across the hospital. Lauren co-leads Chogoria Mission School and is involved in supporting the community through hospitality and children’s ministry. They both work with the hospital chaplains to encourage them and support outreach in both the hospital and community.
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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