Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Tory, Emma, Tye, Claire, Levi, Josie, Jane and Ethan

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ball Python for Sale: Counting the Cost of Discipleship

Email dated Friday, October 17, 2008:
Hey dad, i know this sounds crazy but i feel like i should sell butch. i do not want to put the burden on grandma and grandpa, so i am thinking of selling him to a school. please pray for me to help me make a decision about this this is very hard for me, but i feel like God is telling me to do this.

Thanks, jeremiah

For the past week, Heather and I have been in the high country of North Carolina for the Prescription for Renewal Conference in Ashville (at the Billy Graham Training Center) and for orientation with Samaritan’s Purse in Boone (home of Appalachian State University). Warm days and cool, crisp evenings, along with the most amazing display of fall color made this time unforgettable. Our drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway was spectacular…the splendor of God’s creation. Several missionary families from Tenwek were at the Conference, allowing us to begin building friendships and ask a myriad of questions.

Samaritan’s Purse, well known for Operation Christmas Child (shoeboxes) and Franklin Graham, is a solid relief and mercy organization, with a clear vision for responding to worldwide needs in the name of Christ. Their medical arm, World Medical Mission (WMM), facilitates short-term placement of physicians in understaffed missions hospitals around the world. The Post-Residency Program (a division of WMM) places recently graduated residents for two years in mission hospitals in order to propel them into a hopeful lifelong career in medical missions. We are grateful to be a part of this program and under the leadership of Samaritan’s Purse; such an amazing, godly organization.

While we were in North Carolina, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire and Levi remained with Heather’s parents in Phoenix (thank you!). Grandma and Grandpa Kinkel became Mom and Dad for the week…homeschooling, feeding, bathing, mediating, etc. We are so thankful for their partnership with us on this journey to Kenya… they have made many sacrifices for our sake. For instance, Butch, our family pet, a five-foot ball python we have had for close to seven years, has been living in Grandma’s laundry room. Let me assure you, Grandma does not like snakes.

One of the big questions we have all had, including Grandma and especially Jeremiah, has been, “What are we going to do with Butch while we are gone for these two years?” Jeremiah’s thoughts have ranged from smuggling him into Kenya (“after all, Butch is native to Africa”) to having Grandpa watch him while we are gone. Butch was a gift to Jeremiah for his 5th birthday, and has provided a considerable amount of excitement for our entire family (especially, on those “rare” occasions, when Jeremiah has forgotten to secure the lid to his cage. For other good Butch stories ask the Zeldenrust’s, Moeckly’s or the Holte’s). Needless to say, our kids really do love Butch, and the thought of life without him is difficult.

The decision to follow Christ and become His disciple requires that we all “count the cost.” Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As adults (although individually called and chosen by God to follow Christ), we are able to consciously weigh these costs and either say “yes” or “no” to God. Our kids, on the other hand, did not have a “choice” in going to Kenya (although Claire has informed us she is staying with Grandma). So my prayer has been that they sense their own call to missions; that they would understand that because God has sovereignly brought them into our family, they are chosen to be missionaries as well; and that along with this calling, comes a degree of sacrifice.

For Jeremiah, one sacrifice is having to say goodbye to Butch, his long-time pal (he already said goodbye to Frank and Rosie, his red-eared sliders, but that was fairly easy for him). From his email, with maturity that I would not have expected from an 11 year old, I sense that Jeremiah is beginning to “count the cost,” although small to us, large for him. As a father, I have to resist the feelings of guilt, that I am somehow depriving my children of life experiences by taking them to Africa. But I believe that what awaits them is beyond what I can hope or imagine.

Email reply:
I will be praying for you Jeremiah…sometimes when we do what God wants us to do it can be the hard thing. But there are always blessings in being obedient to God. I am proud that you are wanting to listen to God's voice. I love you buddy, Dad

Please pray for Jeremiah, as when we arrived home today from NC, Butch was gone, sold in one day. And pray for our family as we travel to Colorado Springs this Sunday for three weeks of training at MTI (www.MTI.org). November 19 is rapidly approaching! Thank you for ALL your prayers and support.

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