Season 3 | EPISODE 9

Walking With Jesus Through Grief and Lament

57:11 · June 4, 2024

In this episode of Grace at the Fray, Jim sits down with missionaries Jeff and Brooke Schap as they share their deeply moving journey through grief and lament after the loss of their newborn son, Titus. With honesty and vulnerability, the Schaps discuss how their faith and community have sustained them through unimaginable pain and how their experience has shaped their understanding of God’s grace. Join us for guidance and encouragement in walking through grief and seeking to understand the role of lament in our own lives.

In this episode of Grace at the Fray, Jim sits down with missionaries Jeff and Brooke Schap as they share their deeply moving journey through grief and lament after the loss of their newborn son, Titus. With honesty and vulnerability, the Schaps discuss how their faith and community have sustained them through unimaginable pain and how their experience has shaped their understanding of God’s grace. Join us for guidance and encouragement in walking through grief and seeking to understand the role of lament in our own lives.

In this episode, they discuss...

  • The comfort of God’s presence in moments of heartbreak (16:37)
  • Experiences with grief in Kenya and the challenges of grieving cross-culturally (24:23)
  • Learning to lament through writing and prayer (35:42)
  • How the transformative power of lament can deepen our sense of holiness and purpose (49:23)

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...


Our guests for this episode were Jeff and Brooke Schap, who have served with Serge in Kenya for over four years. Jeff works as the Director of Operations and Partnerships with Ambassadors Football Kenya and Brooke helps with the Serge Apprenticeship program. 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.

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



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.


0:00:23.6 Jim Lovelady: Hello, beloved, you who are loved by God. The Lord loves you. Welcome to Grace at the Fray. I want to tell you at the outset that this episode is about grief and lament, specifically, around the loss of a newborn. So if you’re in a place where you need guidance and encouragement in the area of grieving and the practice of lament, I think you’ll find this episode incredibly helpful and comforting. But if you’re just not up for it, I encourage you to save this episode and come back to it at a later time. Everyone suffers. And one of the most beautiful aspects of Jesus’s church is that we are a community who weeps with those who weep, and I know we can all grow in this area. That’s why I was so excited to sit down with Serge missionaries, Jeff and Brooke Schap when I was in Nairobi, Kenya last year. They have a powerful story that I’ve wanted to share ever since I met Brooke when she participated in one of the Discipleship Lab cohorts that I led. I’ll have more information about the Discipleship Lab course in the show notes, but in this episode, I want you to hear Jeff and Brooke’s story of walking through grief, learning to lament, and how their experience of suffering has shaped them into something glorious, something humble, weak, and beautiful. Something like 2 Corinthians 1 where it says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all merciful Father, the God whose consolation never fails us. He comforts us in our troubles so that we in turn may be able to comfort in any trouble of theirs and to share with them the consolation we ourselves received from God. As Christ’s cup of suffering overflows, we suffer with him. So also through Christ, our consolation overflows.” Truly, this is where we find God’s grace at the frayed edges of our lives.


0:02:53.3 Jim Lovelady: Well, Jeff, Brooke. Karibu. Karibu.

0:03:00.0 Jeff Schap: Asante.

0:03:00.3 Jim Lovelady: How do you say, welcome to? Karibu Grace at the Fray.

0:03:04.2 Brooke Schap: Karibuni.

0:03:05.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah.

0:03:06.0 Jeff Schap: If there’s more than one person, you say karibuni.

0:03:08.4 Jim Lovelady: Karibuni Grace at the Fray.

0:03:10.9 Jeff Schap: Yeah.

0:03:11.4 Jim Lovelady: Here we are in Nairobi and we are in a beautiful backyard of one of our workers, and so it’s a total honor that I get to hang out with you guys. Oh, by the way, thanks for dinner last night.

0:03:25.9 Brooke Schap: You’re welcome.

0:03:26.0 Jim Lovelady: It was awesome.

0:03:26.4 Jeff Schap: I hope you enjoyed. Yeah.

0:03:27.3 Jim Lovelady: It was awesome.

0:03:28.8 Brooke Schap: I enjoyed having you guys.

0:03:29.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. And your guest house, I mean, this isn’t like an open invitation, so maybe I shouldn’t say this, but thank you for letting us stay at your guest house. It’s been incredible, our time in Nairobi this week. And then here and there, we’ve been running around and it’s been so crazy. But every time, let’s see, was it two nights ago? No, it was yesterday, when we came back to Nairobi, I laid my suitcase back in my room, the one that I declared when we first got here, and I was like, “Ah, okay. We’re going to be here a while.” That’s good. That’s so good. So, anyway, tell me who you are and how in the world did you get to Nairobi? 

0:04:14.5 Brooke Schap: Yeah.

0:04:15.9 Jeff Schap: You want to start? 

0:04:17.2 Brooke Schap: Sure. I’m Brooke Schap, and this is my husband Jeff, and we have three kids right now. We have Merritt, who is six, and we have Titus, and then we have Solomon who turns one at the end of this month. So we’re quite busy with them, but we’ve been in Kenya for a little over four years now. We just celebrated our four-year anniversary, but we’ve been with Serge for the past two years. So we transitioned to the Nairobi one team in December of 2021. So we had a whirlwind of getting prepared and launched into Serge and our new team. And so we transitioned from living in Tigoni, which is about a 30-minute drive from Nairobi.

0:05:05.2 Jim Lovelady: Is this like a suburb of Nairobi? 

0:05:07.7 Brooke Schap: Yes.

0:05:08.5 Jeff Schap: Yeah, a little bit country.

0:05:10.3 Jim Lovelady: Okay.

0:05:11.4 Jeff Schap: Different than Nairobi for sure.

0:05:13.0 Brooke Schap: Yeah. We lived out in the tea field. It’s a little bit more rural feeling, a lot more quiet. Not so much of the hustle and bustle, no traffic, very quiet living, and it was beautiful. But when we joined our new team, we then needed to move into the city, which was really hard for us to come to terms with that because God was just good and faithful of blessing us with a really deep community in Tigoni, where we were able to lay deep roots and do a lot of life with Kenyans and other expats. And, yeah, really get our bearings in ministry and culture and what living in Kenya is like. We had lots of ups and downs there. It was a really trying time, especially through COVID. But, yeah, we were really excited to then transition into Nairobi and start our new jobs, which Jeff has done.

0:06:10.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, talk about some of the things that you’ve been doing now that you’ve moved to Nairobi.

0:06:15.5 Jeff Schap: Yeah. So since coming to Kenya, where I was doing football ministry, but transitioning more into the city now.

0:06:22.3 Jim Lovelady: You mean soccer? 

0:06:23.2 Jeff Schap: Soccer.

0:06:23.7 Jim Lovelady: No, you mean football.


0:06:25.4 Jeff Schap: Football, soccer, yeah, both, right? So, yeah, we say football ministry, so I’ll just use that term, I guess. But, yeah, so I was doing football ministry in Limuru with boys who lived on the streets, and then transitioned into Nairobi to work more on discipleship, continuing discipleship using football, but then helping with the business side as well, of running more of a business ministry, and so putting all those pieces together.

0:06:49.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, you were telling me at dinner last night that you were in the business world for a long time, and how amazing that experience has been as you’ve transitioned it into helping make this football organization run better, or I don’t know how to describe it. So, tell me what that’s been like? 

0:07:08.7 Jeff Schap: Yeah, every day is a new day for me, for sure. It’s been a big shift from 10 years in the secular business world in the US to moving into the ministry world, but doing that cross-culturally as well. And, yeah, I’ve really enjoyed the experiences of working and training people on the business side, learning how Africans do it in this culture, and really walking with them in the way that they want to perform these tasks, and the way they want to relate to others and work with other people. Giving them the tools to do that, letting them do it in their own way, and really empowering them to do that work. So it’s challenging. I struggle quite a bit still.

0:07:43.8 Jim Lovelady: Yeah, learning how to set them up for success, but not overstep in…

0:07:48.2 Jeff Schap: Exactly. It’s that balance of being a coach and empowering them, but also stepping in as a player and really helping them to really take on that role themselves.

0:07:56.2 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. So when we were over at your house, I went to look for the Wi-Fi, and there’s a Liverpool Wi-Fi.


0:08:07.1 Jim Lovelady: Is that you? 

0:08:07.3 Jeff Schap: Naturally, you have to be a Liverpool fan to come into our home this week. Put you in the guest house, right? So you don’t have to worry about picking a side.

0:08:13.9 Jim Lovelady: Oh, that’s so funny. When I have a team and it’s been hard to watch, it’s been Tottenham, ’cause Son is awesome.

0:08:21.8 Jeff Schap: He’s a good player.

0:08:22.7 Jim Lovelady: He’s awesome. But we digress significantly.

0:08:27.5 Jeff Schap: We love all football teams ’cause we love all people. So it’s okay. It’s okay.

0:08:31.8 Jim Lovelady: That’s generosity right there. That’s so funny. Well, one of the things that has been super enticing about being here in Kenya is y’all story. And so Brooke, you’re in Discipleship Lab. You’re in the Discipleship Lab cohort that I lead with Laurel Kehl. And it’s been wonderful to hear more of your story. We got on the conversation of grief and lament, and you unpacked your story, and I already had plane tickets for Kenya. And so your story was so beautiful and powerful. It’s like front of the line when I was like, “Okay. Who do I want to get on the podcast?” And then when I arrived here, talking with all your friends, all the other workers here, everyone is like, “Oh, you need to hear their story. We have been so impacted by the way that they’ve gone through grief and the way they have winsomely shown us what it means to trust in God.” And so this conversation is a hard conversation, but I’m really honored that you agreed to share your story. I want you to feel honored and loved by your colleagues who feel like you have led the way in showing them what it means to trust God in grief. So, yeah, would you guys share your story? 

0:10:13.3 Jeff Schap: I appreciate just even affirming us on that. That means a lot for sure. But it is, it’s been a hard journey.

0:10:18.2 Brooke Schap: It’s one of those things for us to see or feel or even acknowledge sometimes, ’cause we just are like, “This is just our story and our circumstances.” And a lot of things that people tell me, I’m like, “I don’t think I feel that.” But it is really encouraging for us to hear that. So we always appreciate hearing that from others. Yeah, we… So as we were transitioning into joining Serge, we were pregnant with our son Titus at the time, so we had flown back to the US to go through all of the logistical things. And I was quite far along already, I was due January of, no, March of 2022. And so we were on a, like, “Hey, we have to get back to Kenya by December.” Just so, our plan was always to deliver here in Kenya. And so, yeah, we got through all of support raising and trainings and everything we needed to do, which God just opened the doors for that and made a way. And so we arrived back in December of 2021. And newly, we were already established in Tigoni, so that’s where we were until we could find a house here in Nairobi, which God, within like a week or two…

0:11:38.6 Jeff Schap: Just two weeks, yeah, God provided a house for us.

0:11:40.5 Brooke Schap: We found our house that we’re currently living in now. So that was just a huge answered prayer, because houses go so fast, especially in this particular part of Nairobi that we needed to be in. So, yeah, we enjoyed the month of December, getting to meet with our team and begin life with them. And then January, beginning of January, I just woke up real early one morning and was like, “Jeff, I think my water broke.” And I was really freaking out. He was still half asleep, like, “What does that mean?” We need to go to the hospital because at that time I was not even 31 weeks pregnant. So, I was a nurse in the US, so I had so many things running through my mind of, “What, oh my goodness, what is about to happen?” So Jeff immediately right away called our teammates, so like, “Hey, this is what happening.” And, I mean, it was like 6:00 in the morning, if that. So it was quite early.

0:12:40.6 Jeff Schap: Yeah, it was four o’clock in the morning.

0:12:42.8 Brooke Schap: Yeah, it was really early. And so they immediately just started calling the hospital, calling other people just to make sure we got the ball rolling. And so we ended up not being able to stop labor. So our son, Titus, was born January 7th of 2022, right at 31 weeks. He was born healthy and crying and we were really relieved. But then unfortunately, very unexpectedly, and suddenly he died two days later. Just to cardiac arrest, his lungs were really sick. And so we were very surprised because he looked so great the first day, and then he just kind of, things started happening, where we were just like, “Oh, how’s this going?” But I was like, “That’s NICU life. That’s preemie life. We’re going to have setbacks.” And even the doctor was just like, “This is normal, things like this are going to happen.” And so when we got the call of like, “Hey, where are you? You need to come into his room.” And they’re doing, resuscitating your tiny four pound baby. We were just like, “Oh, this is really serious.” But looking back on it, we’re thankful, like, what a gift it was that we were right where we needed to be. ‘Cause we had talked about, “Hey, let’s just go outside and take a walk.” And I was like, “Hey, let me go drop this milk off in the NICU first, and then we’ll go for a walk.” And so if we hadn’t had done that, we wouldn’t have been there those last few minutes. And so that was when some of the fog lifted and the shock kinda went away, and I was just like, “Okay. God, you were there with us. You allowed us to be with him in those moments.” And as hard as it was, but we’re just really thankful for our community that from right when we let them all know what had happened, where they just rallied right around us to support us. Because we were just in a state of complete shock of not knowing what to say or think or do, and we have family halfway across the world. We’re like, “Now we have our daughter, how are we going to tell her that the brother she’s been waiting for, for so long, is with Jesus. And so it was one of the things we never thought was going to be part of our story. And one that took a while, at least for me personally, to really accept and not be angry over. Those moments still come, where that anger builds back up of like, “Really God, we’ve sacrificed so much to say yes, to be obedient to your calling in our lives. We left our family, we gave up great careers, where we started in one ministry, loved, and then we transitioned to this new one, and everything is so new right now and we’re about to move communities, and now, What is going on? Why would you allow this to happen? This child was prayed for and very much wanted and loved.” And it just, to me, didn’t make any sense of like… As we were there during his last minutes, Jeff just started praying. He was just praying over him of like, “God, you raised Lazarus from the dead, if this is your will… Heal Titus, bring him back.” And he didn’t, and so that was just really hard of like, I think praying those desperate prayers knowing that this is nothing that’s too big or small for God, but sitting in that reality of he didn’t answer that prayer. And that really hurt, “Why him? Why us?” I don’t know if you have anything you want to…

0:16:37.4 Jeff Schap: Yeah. I think…

0:16:38.2 Brooke Schap: To share in that part.

0:16:40.4 Jeff Schap: We were in the midst of, obviously, so much difficulty and sensing that moment. It was hard, but I really felt like we really trusted the Lord enough, that He really could raise Titus to continue living. And we had faith that He could do it. And so looking back, I was like, “Wow. We had true faith that he could, but he didn’t. But we can still have faith in him even though he didn’t.” And we haven’t had that many moments we’re desperately praying. It’s like, “We really believe you can do this, from our hearts.” But, yeah, I also had a really cool experience as well with Titus. So right before he passed as we were praying and then just kinda sitting in silence looking at him in the moment, yeah, I just felt like this, I could see, like, visualize these, like, wings come to my body or come out of my chest and fly over to Titus. And then he just essentially raised up on top of the wings and then he went up to heaven. And so that happened just moments before he, they’re like, “I think he’s done now. He’s passed away.” And so, for me, that was really difficult but also super peaceful, ’cause it was just like a gift from God to say, “I’m taking this child to heaven. And he’s mine now.”  And I think for me personally, that’s always been a huge image in my head of something I experienced and saw, and just really reminds me as well, that is first, God’s child and that he blessed us to have those two days with him. He is still our child, but at the same time he’s in the hands of the Lord, most of all, and he’s safest there. And so, for me, that was a really cool, a really difficult but really, really encouraging image that I saw right in front of me. And it seemed like it just happened right there. So that was really cool.

0:18:18.1 Jim Lovelady: These beautiful moments where the presence of God is super tangible, and it’s beyond language. And so the imagery, the imagery is the best we can do. But even that is probably not significant enough or accurate enough or whatever to describe that moment of how present God was.

0:18:47.1 Brooke Schap: We had a few moments like that in the hospital. It took me, I think over six months to be able to even, I was going through therapy and really digging into some of those deeper feelings, ’cause I had just in my mind just shut it all out. There was just so much trauma from the hospital. But one session we really dove into it. And as I was looking back, ’cause I just had a lot of anger, like going for like, when Jeff shared this beautiful encounter he had, my first reaction was just, I was angry. I was like, I was jealous. “Why couldn’t you give me something like that?” But then again, my heart was grateful because I was like, “I got to hold Titus the first day he was born, for about 10 minutes before he started not breathing as well. And Jeff never got to hold him while he was alive. So, for me, I was like, “I’m really glad he had that moment since he physically didn’t have a moment with him.” Which I felt a lot of guilt over afterwards, but as we’re unpacking this, I was able to start seeing these little snippets and little memories of God’s presence there with us. Like, the second night I was in hospital, Jeff ended up leaving to go home to be with our daughter, ’cause she was really struggling with us not being at home.  And everything was looking okay. So I was like, “Sure, I’ll be fine. I can get rest. I’ll call you if anything happens.” And that just happens to be the night where Titus just started having one issue after the other. And so they came quickly to get me saying, “Hey, he needs a chest tube. His lungs collapsed, he’s having trouble breathing.” So they brought me over to the NICU and I had to wait in a waiting room. In the NICU in the US you get to spend a lot of time in the room with your baby, whereas here you can only visit them certain hours, and every time they have to do anything, even change them, you have to leave the room. So even though he was here two days, it was still very limited time with him. So I was just sitting in the waiting room. The doctor had come, told me what they were about to do, the whole procedure. And this is where I was very thankful. I already had all the knowledge, so I knew all these things. I wasn’t clueless of like, “Are we doing the right thing? Or what does all of this mean?” I could ask the questions I needed to ask and then, and know. But it’s also one of those bittersweet things of like, “Well, if we don’t get the right outcome, I know why and what.” But a nurse had come in, and she was about to leave her shift, ’cause this was probably about 1:00 AM in the morning, as they were switching shifts. And she was not Titus’ nurse, she had no clue what was going on. But everyone just knew there’s lots of doctors going into this one room. And she came in singing a worship song, and the lyrics, she sang out loud as she was filling her water bottle was, it’s your breath in our lungs. So we throw up our praise. And she didn’t know I had just literally listened to that song as we were praying, ’cause I’m praying, “God, fill his lungs with air. He needs to breathe.” And in the moment it didn’t click with me, but looking back on it, I was like, “That was God’s presence right there in that moment of like, Hey, I see you. I see Titus, I’m here. I’m with you. I love you.” And that was one of those moments looking back of like, “Oh my goodness, what a good father we have.” He wasn’t turning away from me or he wasn’t ignoring me. He didn’t hear my prayers. In that moment, he did. And he sent someone in to let me know that. And so, there were other moments and times like that as well throughout, but it was just one of those of like, as we look back on our story, even afterwards of how our community rallied around us and helped with the service to where, they really took the burden.  Not that it was a burden, but all of the heavier logistical things, of our teammates stepping in with, what is the best funeral home that expats can use. ‘Cause things are just done way different here in Kenya. It’s territory nobody has ever experienced on our team, within our company here. And so there were just a lot of unknowns and God was really gracious. We had an embassy contact checking in on us and basically helping navigate some of these things. And our Kenyan community, some of our close friends helped rally around us. And our new Serge team plus our old team, plus our old community, of like, just loving us well and supporting us well. And, yeah, I think if we didn’t have that, we might not be here today. And so just even looking back at our previous time in Kenya before switching over to Serge of like, God knew what he was doing when he was weaving all of these things together. But also realizing, it’s really hard to grieve in a culture that’s not your own, who grieves very differently than you do. In Kenyan culture when someone dies, you receive people into your home for about a week, where I was like, “I don’t want anyone coming through my door. I want to be by myself.” We allowed church, and we had a lot of support from our church that we were like, “Maybe we should have someone come and pray with us each day just to have this check in.” Which was pretty healthy for us. But here after that week, they have the burial and then you move on, it’s done.

0:24:23.2 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting.

0:24:23.8 Brooke Schap: Of like, “Hey, they’re with God. You’re okay. They’re okay.” We don’t need to be sad anymore. We don’t have to really talk about them anymore. You take down your pictures of that loved one.

0:24:36.1 Jim Lovelady: Oh, interesting.

0:24:37.1 Brooke Schap: And so it was really hard afterwards, as we had some of our Kenyan friends come in and being like, “Why do you still have Titus’ picture on the wall?” And I’m like, “Why wouldn’t I have his picture on the wall? He’s my son.” Or the day after his service, “Why are you still so sad?” I was like, “Because my son died and he’s not here with us, and I miss him, and I’m really sad.” And they’re like “Well, you don’t have to be, it’s okay. We just had a service. It’s all done.” And so that was really hard of like, “Okay. So how do I grieve cross-culturally that is helpful for me and my family? How do I help navigate Merritt’s loss when we’re telling of like, “Oh, you just, you move on now. You just kind of forget about it.”

0:25:24.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. And it’s not like they’re scolding you. They’re trying to encourage you like, “Hey, all is well.” And you’re like, “Well, yes, but also, no.” Both of those.

0:25:38.2 Brooke Schap: And then it’s this, we’re here as missionaries and they’re looking to us, because they think we know all the things. And it’s like, “How can I be vulnerable with them still, of how I am feeling of, “Yeah. I did doubt God. And I am really angry with him and I can’t read my Bible right now. I can’t listen to worship songs. I feel far away.” What does that then say to them? Or how does that come off as, so it’s really complex and layered and it was really hard. And it really set me back a lot after a few months of going into depression and being like, “What are we doing?” But at the same time, having this overwhelming sense of peace and understanding that we can’t explain, that we only know that came from the Lord. Because we were constantly asked by everyone like, “When are you going to go back to the US?” And even the company was so gracious of like, “Whenever you need to go back, you just let us know. We will get it all sorted.” And we’re like, “That has not even crossed our mind” …this is where we want to be, this is where we want to grieve. This is where his whole life was. Why would we go back other than to see family? But I was like, “I don’t want to remove ourselves from here, have to grieve somewhere where I don’t want to, and then come back and have to grieve all over again here.” Because a lot of people, I think, had this thought in their mind of, “Oh, the Schaps are going to leave. Why would they stay here?”

0:27:19.5 Jim Lovelady: After something like that. Why would they stay here?

0:27:21.3 Brooke Schap: Yeah, why would we? And it’s just… We prayed a lot over it. We talked a lot and we were like, “Are we being rational about this?” And he just kept giving us this peace of, “This is where I want you, this is where you need to be.” And we were just like, “Okay, God, we’re going to trust you. If this is where you want us, okay.” So it was tricky and challenging and we had our ups and our downs, but our community here is what’s really helped walk with us and, I think, help keep us sustained here as we entered into so much newness of, “Okay. Now our team has completely shifted gears.” ‘Cause I was supposed to be helping with the apprenticeship program here for Nairobi. And we’re like, “Well, we’re not going to accept any apprentices or interns, we’re just totally shifting gears.” And our team leaders were also going on a long home assignment, so we’re onboarding, we’re going through grief, everything is a fog. Our capacity went from 100% down to zero. [chuckle] Jeff’s was a little bit higher than mine. I think he handled his grief a lot better in the beginning stages than I did.

0:28:43.4 Jim Lovelady: Well, different.

0:28:45.6 Jeff Schap: It’s just different. You just recognize how it’s different for your spouse and how you walk that together. And so that was hard too. I mean, just trying to relate to like, there were things that we felt together, the same kind of feeling and connection with the Lord and the same frustrations, but there are many things that we are very different. And so how do you relate to each other in that way that there’s similarities and differences, but also there and how other people relate to Jeff and how they relate to Brooke and how they relate to us as a couple, us as a family. So all those dynamics are very different too. They’re quite complicated, I think we have a lot of conversations about those things quite often. And we’re often very confused about, what space are we in today? Individually, as a couple, as a family. Why am I feeling this way today, but tomorrow it feels like I’m okay or I’m sinking? Each day was so different. And then I think it was really gracious of God to start to like, one of the questions we really asked ourselves was like, “Who is God changing us to be?” And giving up who we used to be and accepting, “Who is this new person that you’re creating, that you’re making us out to be?” And I think that was really helpful. It’s really helped us to let go of expectations of who we knew we used to be, but who is this new Jeff that you’re making? And why do I find comfort in these things and then not in these things? And why am I changing personality in these ways? I think it was really hard at first. And we… I mean, such as we look at each other and go like, “Who are we?” But then really, I think, just in a really cool way, God started to kind of just carve out and mold us into the people he wants us to be. And in that journey, we were going back to some places that he had us before, but there’s also newness that was really neat to see and go like, “Hmm, this is something that we can’t understand, but we know God is up to something. And let’s stick around and see what’s going to happen. And let’s just embrace these new people we have.” And that’s hard… I think it was harder to relate to other people because they had these expectations, like, “This is how we know Jeff and Brooke, so this is how we relate to them.” And then going like, “Hmm, this is very different. How do I… ” And then starting to have those conversations and us really starting to verbalize like, “Well, I used to like to do that, but now I don’t have the capacity for that. I don’t know if that’s something that will return as an interest. I don’t know if I need that anymore.” It’s like I’m viewing this all differently now. There’s just a very complicated layered space of grief and joy, grief and joy, change and similarities, and a lot of days just not really knowing how to navigate it, but you understand like, “Let’s just trust the Lord, even when he feels so far, that he’s still walking with us each day.”

0:31:20.6 Brooke Schap: He also opened a new door, as we’re, like Jeff mentioned, there was Brooke and Jeff pre Titus, and then there’s Brooke and Jeff post Titus. And I really struggled for a while of this new version of myself, of loving this new version of myself, accepting this new version of myself, realizing I’m a more sad person than what I used to be. Some things that used to bring me joy and happiness they don’t, ’cause the hardest question right now still, and it’s almost two years out now, is like, “What are things you really enjoy doing? What brings you joy?” ‘Cause a lot of the things I used to, it doesn’t still. It’s still really hard. And I’m just like, “Oh, do I want to go into this conversation or do I just say some general things.” But as we’re learning our new selves and how to love, it’s like we had to date each other again. Learning these new things of how to love each other well, how to love our daughter well. But God just brought us into contact with people we probably would’ve never had conversations with or opportunities to sit with if it wasn’t for our story, or if it wasn’t for Titus, of connecting with other loss families here in Kenya, other Kenyans struggling with infertility or infant loss. A lot of that is still… It’s beginning to be talked about more normally now, but there’s a lot of a shame culture here. And so, especially on the woman, of like, if you have infertility or if you have a miscarriage or…

0:33:00.5 Jim Lovelady: Oh, I see.

0:33:01.0 Brooke Schap: Stillbirth or infant loss, they blame the mom. “What did you do wrong?” And that’s really hard, because I felt a lot of that too, of my body failed my child and it failed me and it’s my fault. And I know it was not my fault. But you can’t shake that feeling.

0:33:18.4 Jim Lovelady: You can’t stop those feelings.

0:33:20.8 Brooke Schap: Yeah. But hearing it from Kenyan women and the way that they can’t even talk about their loss, and things of just, God, yeah, causing these connections to happen, and ways we can step in with other families to just share our story or to just walk alongside them, give them encouragement. Well, something we… If that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. And that’s been one of looking at God’s goodness and faithfulness in this next season and journey of our lives of, we saw our life and what we were doing going this way, and it has radically shifted to going this way. So what does this new path look like? 

0:34:01.9 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. What does the new life look like? I really appreciated how you said, well, yeah, who is the new Jeff? What is the new Mr. And Mrs. Schap? What is that? And how all of it has been directed toward God. I think I find it very beautiful that you talked about, that your prayer over Titus was a Lazarus themed prayer. ‘Cause this whole story sounds like, “Lord, if you had been there.” And both Mary and Martha ask Jesus the same… Say the same thing to him. And it’s like, I don’t know. Some days I picture Martha like shaking her finger at Jesus, “If you had been here.” And other days I picture, and I don’t know why that’s Mary, and maybe it’s because He gives a solid truth to Mary, like, “I’m the resurrection and the light. Do you believe that?” And she’s like, “Okay. Yeah, I do believe that.” All right, recentering. But with Mary it’s like, “If you had been here.” it doesn’t seem to me in my imagination that she’s shaking her finger at Jesus. It seems this desperation, this I have nothing else. But the beautiful thing about it and why this is so much your story, is that it’s directed to the only one who can do anything about it. And that’s what lament is. Lament is holy complaint. So tell me some of the things that you guys have… Some of the practices that you’ve been doing, some of the ways that you’ve been engaging in holy complaint and intentionally engaging in lament.

0:35:42.9 Brooke Schap: Yeah. I’d say we engaged in lament very differently. And that was really hard, I think, to recognize for us at first too, of he needed, which you can share more, of like, he needed to get outside, be alone, go in nature, move his body. Where me, I’m like, I just need to sit and process my feelings and just like get it all out. Whether it be journaling or drawing something, where I was like, I just, in that moment in time, nothing I did, I felt like I was connecting with God. And so I was like, “What is one thing?” And so I had… Which I’d mentioned, I think shared with the cohort of, I had a friend from Tigoni from a previous church we went to, where she had shared some resources on lament. ‘Cause I was just… She was one of those who checked in on me daily and I felt really safe and comfortable with, “This is how I’m really feeling. And I don’t know what to do about it. Is this normal?” [chuckle] That’s what I always would ask, “Is this normal? Am I normal right now?” And so I was reading through these lament resources, ’cause I’ve never needed to write…

0:36:58.7 Jim Lovelady: This is a new thing.

0:37:00.7 Brooke Schap: A lament. Which, I mean, and as the grief journey is gone, I recognize more losses in my life where, yeah, it probably would’ve been really healthy to do some lamenting. But I feel like even in growing up in the church and even before coming on missions, grief and lament is not touched on very often. Who wants to talk about those things? Who wants to journey through the nitty gritty? But I’m like, “Why don’t we?” because God’s word says, when you go through trials, it’s not, if you go through trials, it’s like when you do. So they’re going to be there and it’s going to look different. Some people’s are going to be bigger than others. Not that there’s a difference there, but we’re all going to experience loss and grief and need to lament. And I think in my mind I was like, “If I’m lamenting, then am I not… Was it that moment where I had doubt in God or… ” but it’s more of like, “God, this is my heart. This is how I feel. You already know all of this. You know the words before I was even formed, you know my thoughts before I know them.” And so I was like, “Hmm, I’ll give it a try at least.” And even the ones I shared.

0:38:19.0 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Would you share…

0:38:21.2 Brooke Schap: Yeah. Like to me…

0:38:21.5 Jim Lovelady: Some of those? 

0:38:22.5 Brooke Schap: Yeah. I have two here that I shared with the class that I thought were really good ones, of like, to me, I don’t feel like they’re proper laments, but I’m like, going back and reading them after I shared, I was like, “It is a lament.” and I was like, “Maybe I’ve been doing this more than I thought.”

0:38:39.4 Jim Lovelady: Than you realized.

0:38:40.0 Brooke Schap: Than I realized. But this is what has really helped me, putting it in words. And then I just, I had so many people checking in on me, from the US, other friends around the world, to where I’m just like, “This is so exhausting.” And so I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to post these on social media where everyone’s kind of checking in on us, and… ‘Cause I was talking to my therapist, like, “How do I manage all of this?” Because it’s overwhelming. But I need to like, others need to know how we’re doing, they’re really concerned. And so she was like, “If you want to, if you feel comfortable sharing it there, do it.” And then you have zero. What’s the right word? 

0:39:29.3 Jeff Schap: Zero expectations…

0:39:29.7 Brooke Schap: Expectations.

0:39:30.1 Jeff Schap: Of your need to actually respond to those people…

0:39:31.5 Brooke Schap: Respond back to people. They can respond to what you, but you don’t have to follow up. And I was like…

0:39:35.5 Jim Lovelady: Oh, yeah. That’s really good.

0:39:36.8 Brooke Schap: That’s what I need. And so the first, one of the first ones I wrote was this one. And it said, it starts out like this. I wrote it as more of a poem, but I was like, “This is lament.” it says, “Empty, broken hearted, hurting. My God is a deep and wide chasm of mystery. I’m living in a fallen world that took my baby from me. Death and sorrow are now part of my story. But I know God’s reason for Titus’s death is not absent from his deep love for him and I. He’s weaving a beautiful tapestry of redemption through my life and also Titus’s short life. God, you are the giver of breath. Yet you took Titus’s away as he laid there struggling. For your greater glory and purpose that my mind can’t possibly comprehend. My God is a God of astounding love. So much so he sacrificed his one and only son. So no longer having a death grip on us, defeating death on our behalf. Titus’s death was not void of God’s power. Yet my heart aches in despair, for he is before all things and in him all things hold together. Your word says that my suffering is light and momentary, yet it feels the exact opposite. That there is glory to come. The time when I will come face to face with my God and be handed my sweet Titus back. And in that moment, I will be fully and utterly amazed as I fully understand finally. So my heart will continue to ache this side of heaven. And I will remind myself that God gets all the glory from Titus’s death. His ways remain a mystery, but maybe it’s his grace in not allowing me to fully understand right now, as it may not even soothe my aching heart. But it’s also a gift of grace in the small glimpses I’ve been able to see already, and have also yet to see that’s to come. So as I’m treading the deep waters, that these waves of grief pull me into you. I will continue to remind myself, God, may you get all of the glory from this.” And after I wrote that, that last statement, God, may you get all of the glory from this. That was kind of a turning point of, I don’t have to make sense of Titus’s death or why God allowed this to be part of our story. And like we mentioned in the first Discipleship Lab, our story is just part of God’s bigger story, where a lot of the time we’re trying to fit God into our story. And that’s what I’ve been doing during this, of, “God, how are you fitting into this? This is not how we planned for our story to go.” But reminding myself of, as long as God gets the glory, it doesn’t have to make sense. And it’s going to be hard. And so that was one of the first ones. And then a later one that I wrote was, this was nine months after Titus’s death.

0:42:33.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. So I love that you mentioned, in the way that you answered this and shared this with the Discipleship Lab was. And then another one that I wrote nine months later. There’s time, there’s a lot of time. And there’s actually so much time.

0:42:52.8 Brooke Schap: There is.

0:42:53.7 Jim Lovelady: There’s so much space for this. So yeah, go ahead.

0:42:56.2 Brooke Schap: Yeah. So this one starts out with, “Nine months. I’m going to be okay. This is not the end. Your goodness continues to run after me, even when I don’t feel it. Titus’s absence is soul crushing, but turning my back to you and your love would be even worse. You have always been there for me and with me and will also continue to be. When my faith and hope dwindle, you lovingly embrace me tighter. Your love penetrates my broken heart, even the hole that will always be present. What do I do with all this built up love for Titus with nowhere for it to go? I’ll give it back to you with my hands lifted up and my eyes on you. May my pain and suffering over Titus’s death and absence continue to show me just how much I need you and your goodness. May my desperation continue to keep me near the cross. God, my God, for you are good. Even if not, you are still good.” And then I ended it with, “Titus, we are one day closer.” So I was always thinking, even reading over this one as well, of the song that we dedicated to Titus during his service was Gratitude by Brandon Lake. And it’s not one of the typical baby loss songs or poems that people tend to pick. We were like, no. It’s just a song that was really encouraging to Jeff and I, especially in that first week. And I don’t really know why, other than it’s like, all we can do in this moment is lift up our hands and raise a hallelujah and just praise God.

Because we know he is good and he’s faithful and he’s loving, even when we don’t believe it or we don’t feel it or we don’t see it. And so that’s just been, now as I’m writing some of these laments, like that one. I always then will listen to Gratitude and just, it just kind of sets my mind right, of, if I’m having a harder grief-day or those doubts are starting to creep in or if I’m doubting my own self, my worth and have lower self-esteem, or just really questioning a lot of things. It just kind of helps reset, of getting me back, of, God is good and he loves me. That’s one thing I have to, I think, remind myself a lot. Jeff always mentions of like, “God loves you. Just how you are. Even the new Brooke.” And so, yeah, that’s just kind of my part of my journey of just writing some of these laments. And I had, once you’re in the baby loss club, as some of the loss parents call it, you find a lot of comfort in what these other parents have to say, because they get it. They really get it. And I was talking to one about lamenting, ’cause she had written a lament and she had mentioned like, “Laments turn toward God when sorrow tempts you to run from him.” I’m like, “That is just so true.”

0:46:01.4 Jim Lovelady: That’s really good.

0:46:03.1 Brooke Schap: Because I was like, in the beginning, yeah, every time I felt the aches and the pains, and places I didn’t want to go to in my heart, that sorrow. I was like, “What did I do?” I ran from God, ’cause I’m like, “You don’t care about me. You don’t see me right now. If you did, why would you let… “

0:46:20.6 Jim Lovelady: Exactly.

0:46:21.2 Brooke Schap: “Why would you let this happen? Why would you let this happen oceans away, in a third world country.” And then the thoughts creep in my head, “Well, what would the outcome have been if we were in the US and this happened?” And I can’t let my mind get there, because I was like, “At the end of the day, it’s God’s will and he’s good, and this is part of our story in his story. And he will get the glory from it.”

0:46:51.4 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. The aspects of holy complaint where we direct our complaint to the Lord, there seems to be something that we get in return. And you, there’s something that you said that struck me as proof of that or an example of that. The new Jeff, the new Brooke. I’m going to direct my anger and my frustration and my confusion and my doubts and all of these emotions that we don’t like. We don’t like these emotions. We don’t like what they’re doing to us. We feel the lies that it makes us farther from God, which is a lie, it’s actually, when we’re aiming those, all of these things at God, this lament, is in its, all of these things are in their proper place. But then in exchange, it seems like that holy complaint turns us into holy people. And I think that that’s what people are seeing. They’re seeing a new holiness, they’re seeing, which holiness doesn’t mean like you cuss less or whatever. It’s, oh, these people have been set apart for a thing. There’s something that the Lord has gone, “Jeff and Brooke, I want you for this.” It’s like Moses goes up on the hill and is in the presence of God and he’s glowing. And so what people around you are saying is in effect. You are glowing because you have been brought into the presence of God in this way. And people are astounded and people may be confused and people may be bewildered or, but it’s also winsome, it’s also inviting. And that’s what, it’s not burdensome. It’s actually an invitation that, you guys are a walking invitation. Come, I will comfort you with the comfort that the Lord has given me in the midst of my grief, so that I can share in your grief. And all of this turns into a people that are, that glow, people that are holy. It’s the new Jeff and the new Brooke and you’re like, “Great.” [laughter]  Which, it probably shouldn’t be anything other than that, right? Because if you’re like, “Yeah, yeah. Everybody gather round. Yeah, we got it all figured out.” No, that’s not the point.

0:49:23.0 Brooke Schap: We feel the exact opposite. You’re always like, oh. ‘Cause we even had people be like, “How are you guys so strong? You’re doing so well.” And I’m like, “I don’t feel that way one, but I’m glad you can see it comes off as that way. [chuckle] But let me tell you, like this is how it really is.”

0:49:42.4 Jim Lovelady: Right, right.

0:49:43.1 Jeff Schap: I think sometimes people, when you have that space of vulnerability, it actually invites people to say like, “Actually you’re doing well because you’re being vulnerable in your own weakness.” And that brings this level of comfort of like, “Wow. God is good in this space, even though it’s really hard.” That is the doing well, because we’re actually depending on the Lord.

0:49:58.4 Jim Lovelady: That’s it. Right.

0:50:00.5 Jeff Schap: It’s not, you’re doing well because you’ve put your life together and you’re passing over these things and you’re looking to worldly things to satisfy yourself. So I think that’s where, when you hear that comment, it’s like there’s deeper-ness to that that encourages us, but it’s also a way for people to see God is faithful. It doesn’t come from us.

0:50:18.1 Brooke Schap: ‘Cause I’ll say we’ve really got to experience the ministry from weakness in a whole new lens. Of like, we thought we had, but now we really get that part of like, yeah, this really bad thing happened and it changed our lives and things look so different now, but through God’s goodness and faithfulness, look what he has continued to do and is doing and will do.

0:50:42.8 Jim Lovelady: And is going to do. Yeah.

0:50:45.7 Brooke Schap: And we are just so thankful for that, of, now as it’s been almost two years, next month will be the second anniversary, and it’s just like, “Man, it’s already been two years, or it’s only two years.” [chuckle]

0:51:04.6 Jim Lovelady: Right, right.

0:51:04.8 Brooke Schap: But I’m like, “Wow, God. We can’t wait to see what you’re going to do.” ‘Cause we know it’s going to be good even if it looks hard. And if he throws another curveball our way, I think at least we’ll be able to, I think walk that path a little bit better.

0:51:26.1 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. Amen. Well, thank you so much for sharing. It really is an honor that you would be vulnerable and that you would share. And I think that that’s just part of why it’s this holiness that Jesus gives in return. And somewhere down the line we go, “Well, I hope it’s going to be worth it.” Because that pain was so strong. And even that is directed to Jesus. “Jesus, this better be worth it.” I consider the sufferings of this world, nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. “Okay. Well, I want to know you then.” So…

0:52:03.7 Brooke Schap: It just gives you such a, especially for our family, like just a tangible grasp of heaven. Even our daughter at the time who was four, she has such a better understanding of heaven and what eternity means than we did at her age and even now as adults. And I was like, “That’s one of the gifts as well.” They are the type of conversations we get to have with her, and it’s just one of those sweet things of, yeah, I can’t… We long for heaven. Whereas before, I couldn’t say I truly longed for heaven, of like, “Yeah, things here they’re hard at times, but it’s good.” where now I’m like, “I cannot wait to get there and to experience what God has for us there.”

0:52:53.5 Jim Lovelady: Yeah. A place where he wipes away every tear from our eyes.

0:52:57.0 Brooke Schap: Yeah.

0:52:57.4 Jim Lovelady: Come Lord Jesus.

0:53:00.7 Jeff Schap: Yeah.

0:53:01.8 Jim Lovelady: Amen. Thanks y’all.

0:53:03.6 Jeff Schap: Yeah.

0:53:03.7 Brooke Schap: Yeah, you’re welcome.

0:53:03.8 Jeff Schap: Appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time.


0:53:12.3 Jim Lovelady: God’s power is made perfect in weakness. In your life and in your community, where do you see the invitation to admit your weakness? Is it in finally being open about your grief? Is it in gently coming alongside someone in their grief? Do you know how to sit with someone in silent grief? Do you know how to listen to the Holy Spirit guide your conversations with folks who are grieving? If this is an area of weakness for you, I want to give you some resources, not so that you can no longer feel weak, but so that you can learn to participate with Jesus, as his power is made perfect in your weakness. And the first is an invitation to join the Discipleship Lab cohort where you learn and practice the art of discipling others. This is where I first had the opportunity to hear the Schap’s story and to weep with them. You can sign up for the Discipleship Lab course at serge.org/renewal and go exploring that area of our website. I also want to give you access to the prayers of lament that Brooke shared. There’s a link for those in the show notes as well as links to other resources like a book written by another one of our workers called, Promises in the Dark: Walking with Those in Need Without Losing Heart. And I have a bonus interview on YouTube that I did with Jeff and Brooke, about how they are learning to help others grieve and teach folks how to lament. All these links will be available in the show notes. So please check that out and share this episode with someone who needs encouragement as they walk through grief and learn to grieve with others. Jeff and Brooke’s story has so reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha and the death of their brother Lazarus in John 11. That beautiful story of resurrection from the dead. Because in verse 40, right before Jesus calls Lazarus out of the grave, Jesus says to the crowd, “Did I not tell you that if you have faith, you will see the glory of God.” And the folks who know Jeff and Brooke’s faith can testify that they have seen the glory of God and it’s been a blessing to their community. And then in verse 43, Jesus raises his voice in a great cry and he says, “Lazarus come forth.” The dead man came out and his feet and his hands were tied up with strips of cloth and a cloth wrapped around his face, and Jesus said to the crowd, “Unwrap him and let him go.” Isn’t that remarkable? Jesus calls the community of faith to remove the shrouds of death. The beauty of the Christian community is that out of our grief, we receive the consolation of Christ as he calls us out of the grave and calls us to live in the hope of our resurrection. And then out of that promise, we become a resurrection community called to remove the garments of death that shroud every human in God’s kingdom. So as you go into a broken and grieving world, may you learn the holy art of lament, as you offer the consolation of Christ to a world in desperate need of generous friends. Who weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. And go with his favor, his love for you, his 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 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.

Jeff and Brooke Schap

Jeff and Brooke have served in Kenya for over four years and have four children, Titus, Solomon, Merritt, and Auden. Jeff works as the Director of Operations and Partnerships with Ambassadors Football Kenya and Brooke helps with the Apprenticeship program for Serge.


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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