In this episode, Keith talks with Jason about his recent trip to Nepal for ministry and to climb mount Everest.
Intro (Keith): Welcome to the Kanakuk Institute Podcast, where we continue to equip leaders with biblical skills for a lifetime of ministry.
Jason (00:13): Hello and welcome back to the Kanakuk Institute Podcast. This is Jason Lightfoot here, an alumn of the institute, and I’m here with Keith Chancey who’s just gotten back from quite the trip, haven’t you?
Keith (00:25): Oh my gosh, Jason, what a trip it was. Man, to go to Nepal and to be a part of an expedition of climbing to the base camp of Mt. Everest was a dream come true. And I mean it was an absolute dream come true.
Jason (00:41): That’s crazy that you even got to do that. So before we dive into you, kind of, talking a little bit about your trip, how did it even come about for you to get to do that?
Keith (00:51): You know what, it’s really interesting, I’m glad you asked that question, because while I was working for Kanakuk Kamp, I went on staff with a church, Denton Bible Church. And when I was at Denton Bible Church, Tom Nelson there, they have us all adopt areas of the country or the world where we’d be a part of doing ministry, and one of the places that they had allowed me to adopt was Nepal. Well, when I would go back to Nepal, I was there three times, and each time I went, “Man, would I ever love to climb onto Mt. Everest.” And I had gone to Pokera, and I would just kind of dabbled around and they would call it even a base camp. Nah, it wasn’t base camp. These were just camps that were on, you know, the foothills of the mountain, but I had never climbed on Mt. Everest. So, how it had all come about was: Cameron was about one, two, three years old. And he began to say to me at a very young age, “Dad, one day, I want to do this with you.” And I said, “Dude, we’ll do it.” Well, as life goes on, you know in junior high, it just wouldn’t work, because of his athletic schedule, and then as a, in high school, it wouldn’t let him do it because he’s also an athlete again, and then in college he’s an athlete playing for Missou, and I’m going, “My gosh are we ever going to get into this trip?” And he’s going, “Dad, I’ll quit. I want to go with you to Everest.” Well, long story short, this last year, a friend of mine said, “Chance, there’s a ministry that’s being done in Nepal. Would you like to help us help these guys in Nepal? Help them put together maybe an opportunity to get a camp, to do ministry around the country of Nepal?” And I said, “Done.” And they said, “Oh and by the way, we’re going to climb to the base camp of Mt. Everest. And I said, “Done, done, done.” I said, “And my son’s going with us.” And so, that’s kind of how it started, Jason, is that this friend of mine, Greg Bettis, said, “Would you do this?” And I said, “I absolutely would love to do this.” And first and foremost, we began to pray and fast and just ask God, “God, if you take us to Nepal, let us have nothing, but an unbelievable ministry.” And so we go to Nepal with the idea we’re going to go climb, and we’ve trained and done all these things, and now Cameron has done ironmen. He’s done back-to-back marathons, he’s in shape. Me? I’m not in that kind of shape. And I’m going, “Dude.” But you know what? There’s a part of me, and it’s that really dreaded word: pride. And I go, “You know what? I can do it.” And I was in good shape. And God got me over there, and there were two words that I wanted to describe our trip, and they were this: humble servant. And guess, what Jason. God made both of those come to fruition in my life. Dude, he busted my chops. It was awesome.
Jason (03:35): That’s wild. Well I can speak to you being very well prepared. I mean, towards the end of the Institute, you were hiking miles and miles every single day, so you definitely did everything you could to be ready.
Keith (03:45): The only thing I didn’t do was hold my finger over my nose and over my mouth and not be able to breath and then do what I was doing. Because altitude is a major beast. And you know, Jason, I just really didn’t realize, now I know a lot of you out there, you’ve climbed on mountains, you’ve skied in Colorado, and you go up and you know you’re in 10,000 feet, and you go, “Man, it’s” And when you climb up those stair you go, “Man, I’m kind of tired.” And you know, you get up to the top and you go, “Man, I’m a little bit.” And then at night you try to sleep and you go, “I’m not sleeping real well. “ Well that’s just called altitude insomnia. And they’d told me about this, they said, “Some people”, they said, “Chancey, not everybody that wants to go to base camp can make it.” They said, “Even Navy Seals sometimes don’t make it.” And I’m going, “Well, I’m badder than a Navy Seal,” You know what I’m saying? No not really, not at all do I ever think that. I just thought, you know what? You’d have to kill me not to do this. And God said, “Oh really? Watch this big boy.” And so, it really got a little bit rough, but I tell you, Jason, it was the greatest time I ever had at trusting God, leaning on God. In fact, Psalm 23, oh my gosh. If it went through my head once, it was 20,000 times. Because I’m literally going, “The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want.” The only thing I wanted was breath, ok? But there were so many things that went through my mind. I thought, “You know? I’ve always been the type of guy that lived in a cushioned environment. I’m an American. We have all these things. We’ve got fast food. We’ve got everything that you want. It’s always at your disposal. And now, here I am, in a country that is very third world, and I’m being asked to do something that not a lot of people will ever do. And I learned. You can’t do this without the Lord. Jason, it was unbelievable, and you know, here I am with my son. And here we are climbing, and we’re just going, “This is unbelievable.” But I’m going to step back for just a second and let you know something. The greatest part of our trip was not the climb. It was not the climb. In fact, that was a secondary benefit of the trip. I’m thankful to get to climb, but the ministry we were apart of while we were in Nepal was phenomenal. So we get into Katmandu, and here we are in Katmandu, and it’s one of the busiest places in the world. This whole country of Nepal is about the size of Missouri. And so, there’s millions and millions and millions of people, and motorcycles and cars, and “beep, beep, beep.” And it’s just crazy. It’s going nonstop, and honking, and people. Those people have grown up in a culture that I don’t know. Because here if you honk the horn, that means, “Get out of my way.” Over there it means, “How are you?” You know? “I’m coming around ya.” There’s left doesn’t mean right. You can go whichever direction and you just kind of get to where you need to go, and everybody just kind of waves and keeps going. It’s an amazing thing. And so, here we are in Katmandu, and we’re helping this ministry called, by the way, “Light 2 the World.” And the “2” is the number two, and this couple. Gollee. Michael and Holly Tomane. I am so encouraged by… Michael is a Nepalese. His wife is an American. They met and she wanted to do ministries, and she wanted to be involved in Missions. And she marries this guy, and they are on fire for Jesus. It was the highlight of my trip. Because I’m watching this couple say, “We want to change the culture of Nepal.” And I’m not so sure they won’t do it. And that made the trip so much fun. Because here we are. We go from Katmandu to Chitwan. Chitwan to Pokera, all over these rural areas, and we are sharing the gospel, spreading the gospel, teaching the gospel, and I’m just going. I mean when we would teach, these people were starving, they were hungry, “Give us more, give us more, give us more.” The country of Nepal was on fire for Jesus.
Jason (07:56): That’s so good.
Keith (07:57): Isn’t that fun?
Jason (07:58): So, did you get to have any good gospel conversations while you were climbing?
Keith (08:00): You know, really and truly yeah. Well, from that, we were all over and we were meeting with pastors, teachers, all over the country and so we had the opportunity to do ministry, and helping them set up a camp there, and I believe that they will. It’s really cool. And what we had to do is say, “Hey, don’t think about the six million dollar project. Think about the most inexpensive way to get the gospel out there.” Because people aren’t probably going to give to a ministry that costs you a lot of money. But they’re going to give to you if they see that what you’re doing really works and it’s effective. So it was really fun to see this couple say, “You know, whatever it takes to get the gospel out to the country of Nepal, that’s great.” So, we watched God do incredible things there. Now, fast forward. Here we are now hiking. We’ve done ministry. Now we’re hiking. We’re going, “you know what? Here we go.” And there’s 14 guys on our team plus four sherpas and porters and yacks. So it’s really kind of a fun group. And these 14 guys, one, two, Cameron I knew, because he’s my son. Another guy named Greg I knew. Another guy named Dennis I did not know, but we met, and before long, within about 24 hours, all 14 of us on our team are best of friends. And what was happening is sharing your story. And you know, Jason, I think that’s the thing that I learned on this trip as much as anything I could have ever learned. You know, it doesn’t matter where you’re at on the planet, but what’s important as we come alongside of each other and we rub elbows and shoulders with each other. It’s what’s your story? But to ask those 14 men on that trip those questions, and to watch them answer, and there were tears, and there was lamenting. I was overwhelmed with what God did. And so, it just reminded me, Chancey, be reminded. It doesn’t matter where you’re at on the planet, it’s about ministry. It’s about the 2 Timothy 2:2, entrusting into faithful men who in turn will entrust into other faithful men, that will impact the world. And it’s about part of the great commission of going therefore and making disciples, as we’ve talked so many times on this program. Our goal is to make disciples and it starts one person at a time, hearing their story, and encouraging them in their story to help them find freedom, redemption, who Christ is, and to walk (?) with the Lord.
Jason (10:19): So as you reflect on your time in Nepal, and on the climb, if you could pull just a couple memories that just stick out as like: these were the sweetest moments of the trip. What would you say?
Keith (10:34): I am most likely going to cry right now, because as we were sitting there and we’re teaching and I’m watching my son teach, and to watch him open his Bible and share God’s word, and then to share of his and I’s relationship through his eyes. I had never heard that. And it blessed me more than I could ever say. To hear Cameron say that I love my dad, and my dad’s my hero. And how your dad has taught you so many things. And I’m just sitting there and I’m going. And to hear how his life has been impacted and how that he’s seen us be so faithful to the Lord and seen our marriage be such an example to him. I’m just going, “Do you not know how awesome this is?” You know, I have two children: Callie and Cameron. Callie, you know, she’s in full time ministry, she’s my women’s director at Kanakuk Kamp. Man, I get to spend a lot of time with her. She’s phenomenal. Hearing Cameron share his story about the impact that I’ve had on his life. I was overwhelmed. I and to this moment. In fact, everybody in the whole group kept going, “How do you have that kind of relationship with your son? We’ve never seen that.” And I’m going, “I can’t answer that. It’s of the Lord. Because I’m a sinner. I’m not that perfect of a person. But through God’s grace I’ve done the very best that I can with what I know because I didn’t have a dad. And I’ve invested in my son and I’ve invested in my daughter, and I’m watching them walk closely with the Lord.” And the sweetest time on the trip was hearing my son exalt Jesus Christ and how God has used me to help him. Uh, it was awesome.
Jason (12:17): That’s great. So you also mentioned that there was some chop-busting that happened on this trip. So, what were some of the hardest parts of the trip that you remember.
Keith (12:25): Oh my gosh. You know, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve read of people, I’ve talked to people that say they struggle with pride. I didn’t know that was really one of my issues. And all of a sudden I realized, “Chancey, you tend to dig deep into your life, and you’re able to overcome things. But in these circumstances of climbing this mountain going up.” And when the breathing got really tough, and when the sleep got few and far between, you begin to crumble. And Jason, that’s what happened. After the third day, third and fourth day, I got what’s called altitude insomnia, I could not sleep, I couldn’t close my eyes. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, man who doesn’t sleep in two days is going to die, especially climbing this type of elevation.” And so as we’re getting to the 14,15,000 feet and I can’t sleep, and I can’t breathe, I start thinking all kinds of horrible thoughts. Am I really going to make it? Do I need to call time out and check out and get a yack ride down to the bottom? Because there isn’t any helicopter coming to get me. And so I’m like, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?” And so I dug deep. And I mean I dug deep. My chops were busted, I really understood what when James writes, you know, “Consider it pure joy my brethren.” And that’s easy to say until you’re going through the trial and you’re going, “I can’t breathe, I’m sleepy. I just don’t know if I can make it.” And I felt that, Jason, I felt it. And I really went, you know I’m getting old now. And when I was back in my days I was competing, I always kind of came to that point. But I’m not competing anymore, and I had to dig deeper than I’ve dug in 20 plus years. And all of a sudden. I was just reading a passage this morning, and you know, it’s so good because it’s found in Romans 5, and it’s so good because of how it writes it says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings.” I just love how he says, “Rejoice in our sufferings.” Because, Jason, I wasn’t rejoicing. I was going, “Lord have mercy on my soul. I’m tired, I’m exhausted, I’m fatigued.” I haven’t slept, and I don’t know if I can make it. And I’ve got two words that are to describe my trip: humble servant. And I’m going, “Lord I don’t want to be humbled.” And God said, “yes you do.” Your sufferings, you’re going to rejoice in. And we were at a teahouse at about 14,000 feet and I turned to the other 14 guys in the room, and they were sharing about what they were learning so far on the trip, and I just said, “Guys, I need to share something.” And I didn’t tell Cameron this, I gave him no prior warning that I was about to share this. I said, “Guys, I haven’t slept in two nights. I’m exhausted. My body is fatigued. My mind is going places that it shouldn’t go, and I am bonking out.” And I said, “I need y’alls prayers.” And Jason, tears came down my eyes, and I’m looking at these guys, these 14 guys, and all of a sudden they said, “Oh my gosh, you’re feeling that way, we’re all feeling this way. We just thought we were the only ones.” And all of a sudden, just like that, God shared with me, just through a little voice in my ear, “Hey, it’s ok to share your pain. It's ok to share your struggle. Because when you do, that’s what makes God strong, not… Chancey, nobody’s impressed with you. But let them be impressed with Jesus. Let them be impressed with the Holy Spirit that’s giving you the comfort and the strength and the encouragement to make it to the next level. And all these men came up, “Chance.” And they’re crying and we’re hugging, they’re praying over me, touching me, and I’m going, “This is just awesome.” And Cameron goes, “Dad, how’d you know to do that?” And I said, “Dude I didn’t know how to do that. I was busted. And you know, that humility thing, it’s a real thing.” And I love Philippians 2 because with humility of mind, let each one of you regard one another as more important, that’s what Jesus did. So in that humility, I went, “Lord thank you.” And God taught me a lot through that. Jason, it was, my son loving his Daddy, that was awesome. And then these men was such a sweet moment to go, “hey, they needed me to share that I was hurting. They needed me to share honestly that I don’t know if I can make it.” And all of a sudden, the bond that was built between all of us was incredible. Why is it that we men have such a hard time being honest with how we feel?
Jason (16:40): That’s just amazing to hear. Well that’s about all we have time for in this episode.
Keith (16:44): Oh Jason, come on.
Jason (16:45): Hopefully you guys enjoyed hearing about all the details of the trip, and I hope you can be encouraged by, obviously there’s a lot of ways that can translate to our own lives as well as we all encounter our own trials, and we get to choose what attitude we’re going to have as we face them. So, we are praying for endurance and steadfastness for you all as you go about your lives. We are looking forward to seeing you next week on the Kanakuk Institute Podcast.