In this episode, Keith and Jason discuss the theme of "humble servant" as Keith experienced it while climbing Mt. 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): Welcome back to the Kanakuk Institute Podcast. This is Jason Lightfoot here with Keith Chancey, and we’re back to keep talking about the trip to Nepal where Keith climbed Mt. Everest.
Keith (00:26): Oh my gosh. Jason, thanks for reminding me of that moment of my life where I went, “I thought it was going to be a Trek up the mountains and I’m going to go, “la la la,” It’s going to be so much fun, and me and Cameron are going to bond. It’s going to be so great. The bonding that took place. The bonding that took place was a little different than I thought. You know, we talked about last week, you know Jason. Cameron and I were so pumped up about this trip together. And I thought, you know, it was going to be us conquering this mountain together, when actually that mountain conquered us.
Jason (00:52): That’s funny. Well, at the end of last week’s episode, I had asked about some of the sweetest memories that you had and now I kind of want to flip that question and you’ve talked a little bit in broad terms about how hard the trip was, how it was very humbling, but I would love to hear some specific details of what were some of the specific barriers that you encountered, some of the trials you endured, and we’ll just leave it there, what were some of the trials that you endured?
Keith (01:18): That’s good Jason. You know, and when you’re hiking up Everest, what you’ve got is: it’s a terrain that, you know, you’re gradually gaining elevation, and then it goes more elevation, and then more. But it’s not just the elevation, it’s that on the right side of you is a drop off. And if you fall off that drop off, if for any reason you lose focus of what you’re doing, you could fall off that edge and it’s a 500, 1000 foot drop-off, maybe more, that there’s no way you’ll survive. And so you’ve got those elements. And then you’ve got snow coming down on you. And you’ve got ice. And then that ice it turns to rain and then you’re soaking wet and you’re going, “You know what? My mind is getting a little test here.” And your feet are tired. And you keep going. And you’re drinking 7-8 liters of water a day. And so, you’ve got to keep yourself hydrated. You’ve got to eat properly, but the food that you eat is the same thing all the time.
Jason (02:23): So what were you eating every day?
Keith (02:25): Right, you’re eating fried rice. And so fried rice in the morning, fried rice at lunch, and fried rice at dinner, and you’re going, “Dude, this is awesome.” And every now and then I could get them to give me a fried egg, and that was awesome too, you know, I really loved the fried eggs. The fried rice got a little old, but you know, I got to thinking about this, Jason, and the hard thing was, you know, I’m so Americanized. You know, I’m expecting that I can get out of the rain. Well, they can’t get out of the rain. There’s not a lot of places, you’re on the side of a mountain climbing. And so you just endure it. You get snowed on, you endure it. You keep going, the winds blow, you endure it. You’re cold, you endure it. And you’re just going, “I’ve got my right…” You know, the key though Jason that was so amazing: they tell you everything you need. You need a base layer, and underneath that you need a smart wool. Then you need a three quarter zip, and then you need a little… then you need a little jacket that’s your sleeveless. And then you need a full puffy jacket that’s your warm. And then you need a rain jacket. So you are, you’ve bundled up, because you’re prepared. And they taught us to be prepared. And I don’t know. Sometimes in America, I wonder if we’re as prepared as we need to be. You know, I got to thinking about that a lot, you know, what does it mean to be prepared? You know, preparation as a Christian. You know, and I’m going to use the analogy here. You know, I was so prepared with the clothes that I wore, the hat that I had, and my backpack, and my poles. Everything that I had had a significant purpose. Well, in that significant purpose, I think about, you know, when I wake up in the morning here in America, you know, I’m not outside, I’m not in a tent. And if it’s cold, I’m not that cold, because I’ve got a heater I turn on. In Nepal, no, you didn’t have that. You get out of your tent, you do some push-ups on the ground real quick to get your blood going, you put your clothes on as fast as you can. You’re not worried about taking a bath, that’s for sure. You get everything on and off you go, and you start your hike. 21 days of hiking. And everyday same food, same thing, climbing boulders, climbing mountains, climbing elevation, can’t breathe, can’t sleep, and you go, “And I’m supposed to call this fun?” You know? And I went, “Wow. God thank you for letting me understand that I’ve been Americanized.” And I hate to keep saying that, but I have it easy here. Out there I didn’t. And so I learned, Jason, that was what was so cool. Now let me just share with you something about that, because, as I’m hiking on the trail, people say, “Chancey, how did you make it?” Well, by meditating on scripture. You know, like I said before, I’m in Psalm 23, I’m in Philippians 1, 2, 3, 4. Every book that I know in my Bible, I’m meditating on. And I’m gaining great insights of truths that are taking me deeper in areas that I had never really dissected the scriptures because I had never meditated on it 6, 7 hours at a time. And God just kept giving this, and I’m in prayer throughout the day. And I lived by this one thought, and it’s going to sound simple to you, but it’s one step at a time. I couldn’t think two steps. I had to think one step. My head was kind of down at times, I wasn’t looking at all the sights at times, because I’m going, “I have to go one step at a time.” I can make it one more step, one more step, one more step. And as I would go I would, “Lord I’m encouraged, I’m meditating on the scriptures.” Do you not know that all run in a race but only one receives the prize? Therefore, run in such a way that you may win. And I’m meditating on what does it mean to win in the Earth? You know? How do I win? Winning is sharing the gospel. Winning is, at the end of the tape, stretching forward to eternity. And having Jesus say, “Well done my good and faithful servant, come on in.” And to know my eternal perspective is in heaven and it’s not on this earth and that everything I have here is to glorify God. Everything, Jason. Because over there, we had nothing.
Jason (06:41): Yeah, so how does the “one step at a time” mantra translate to our spiritual walk?
Keith (06:47): Wow, that’s a phenomenal question. And I’ve thought about since I’ve been home, and even on the plane ride home. I was just sitting there just in prayer. And I go, “God, teach me to pray more.” Teach me to understand prayer at a better level. And to really surrender. God I don’t want to be comfortable. I willingly want to go through suffering. I don’t always want to be so… you know, with the right clothes, the right car, the right house, the right stuff. I was thinking about this a lot while I was over there, and I thought about my Dad. For those of you that don’t know, my dad abandoned me at the age of nine years old, and I didn’t see him again, and during that whole time, I kept wondering, where was my dad and why would he abandon me? But the thing I don’t think I really understood about that is that sin plays havoc on everybody. And my dad didn’t truly want to leave his family, but sin had him bound up. And he followed his own course, because it was one that the devil kind of caught his mind and got him to say, “you don’t have any responsibilities to your kids, to your wife.” And he left. And I don’t think I ever really understood that, Jason, but on this trip I really kind of came to grips with that. I can’t imagine what kind of hell my dad was going through. And I think, if I had it to do all over again, I would have wished a whole lot better on my dad. And I think so often what we do is when we see people downtrodden and going through difficult times, rather than pray for them and come and encourage them, we just bypass them and we walk right past them when actually, those people have a lot to offer. And so, I think I learned a lot about that. Second thing I learned, Jason, that was really powerful to me, I learned about my dad, but I also learned that when my son, Barrack, and I’ve shared with this before, when he died in my arms. That day when Barrack died in my arms, I’ll never forget I felt a whisper in my ear of God saying, “Chancey, let your son go, because you can never be as good as a father as me.” And when God helped me understand that I can never be as good of a father as my savior Jesus, I did release Barrack. But as much as I released him, and God humbled me through that, I realized. “God if you ever give me another son, or a daughter, I want to be all in. I want them to know Jesus like crazy. I’m going to spend time. And I’m going to have the energy and the effort, even when it gets tough, I’m going to be all in. And you know what Jason? God did it. And he even gave me an opportunity to climb a mountain with my son called Everest. That God promised me long before, when I held that one son in my arms and he died. Now here I am at a different level, and we’re on top of base camp rock holding each other. And all I could think of was, “this is me holding Barrack many, many years ago, and this time it’s a whole lot different.” But the same rock that I want to stand on is the Lord.
Jason (09:52): That’s so good. So you also talked about the takeaway of the trip being, “humble servant.” Could you talk about that a little bit?
Keith (10:02): I don’t know if I want to man, you know? Because, the humble part we all get because God makes us empty of ourselves, and when you become empty of yourself, you understand who you really are. And that was such a blessing for me to go, “I want to be empty of myself. I want to be full of God.” And so that part, I got. The servant part, you know what? I thought I was a pretty good servant until I’m watching these guys called sherpas. Dude. These guys are F.O.N. Freaks of Nature. I’m just telling you. These guys were right beside us. They made sure that we were safe, they made sure that we had enough water, they made sure that we were fed. When we would get to our destination after we’d walk for maybe six, seven, eight, nine hours. They would meet us with something to drink, hot tea, hot lemon tea, hot coffee. They would make sure we’re taken care of. They would make sure our backpacks were off, they would make sure our stuff is where it needed to be. They helped us. And then we would go to our rooms, so to speak, or our tents. Where we would look out the window or wherever we’re at and we would see them in little scurvy little tents. And they would be sitting outside, in the elements, snowing. Not complaining, not trying to get in cover. But very content. And that word content began to take a whole new meaning to me because I think of Paul in Philippians 4, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance that I’m in.” And when I think about that word content, I go, “How were they content? They’re freezing.” They don’t have the right clothes, they don’t have the right stuff. But yet they’re smiling, and they’re serving. And I went, “That’s what I want.” And I thank God for letting me see that through the sherpas. These guys that went all the way up the mountain with us. They made sure that we were safe. They made sure that every one of our meals were served to us hot. Made sure that everything we had to drink. Made sure that if we needed something at the table, they went and got it, which by the way is just crazy, because they should have been far more tired than we were. But you know what Jason? These guys, I left last week. I’m no a week back from Mt. Everest, but those guys, they’re probably on they’re way back. Back up to the top again. And they’ll go back down. They’ll go back up. They’ll go back down. They’re life is systematic, and they’re doing the same thing over and over and over again as humble servants. And I go, “Praise God, that they showed me something that I need to know here.” That I need to make sure that I’m that type of servant. This summer at camp, you know, by the way, I got home last Saturday, Sunday was mother’s day, Sunday night we’re at camp, and here come all the campers and uncles and here we are. And we’re about to start staff training today, and I mean, it’s just crazy. But there’s something I need for myself to be reminded of: Chancey, are you going to be a humble servant? Are you going to be a sherpa? And , you know, Jason, I think that’s kind of cool, because I go, “I think that’s kind of fun.” Because these dudes, when we got up to the top at base camp, it’s tradition, and they all take off their shoes. We’re on a glacier. And they took off their shoes, and they’re serving us bare-footed, in the snow, serving us in the snow, and their toenails are all black. And I’m going, “Dude, you guys are mutants.” And I’m going, “But thank you for showing me relentlessness, contentment, and these guys aren’t Christians.” But you know what they heard a lot about? Jesus.
Jason (13:50): Well praise God for that. You mentioned Philippians 2:3-4 last week, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in everything count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.” It sounds like these men perfectly embodied that message in their actions towards you.
Keith (14:11): And I think that’s what I learned so much is that, you know, even though you may not know Christ, you understand the principles of Christ. These are biblical principles that these guys as a Hindu were following because it gave them more karma, they were going to be happier one day as they’re reincarnated, and I’m going, as I’m sharing with them, and by the way I had multiple opportunities, one guy I was able to share with about two hours with as he was a Bhudist, and he goes, “Chancey, I’ve never heard the gospel presented where you’re talking about the Old Testament of your Bible is the fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s coming.” And he goes, “I’ve never understood that for just seven prophecies to be fulfilled would be an amazing thing. But you have over two-hundred prophecies that have been fulfilled about the Jesus, and nothing else could ever substantiate that. No other religion could claim that.” And yet they were just going, “Chancey, thank you for sharing this.” And we got him a Bible. So we kept giving people the opportunity, you know, to see the Word, to hear the Word, and to make it practical to their life. They are incredible people, and I think that’s the thing that I learned so much on this trip is that like my dad, who was a man who walked away from his family, I just wish that people would have come alongside of him and helped him be reconciled unto Christ. And I, that’s what I want to do. When I see a hurting person, I want to help them be reconciled unto Christ. I want to serve them. I want to give them hot tea. And I want to serve the relentlessly as an F.O.N. a freak of nature.
Jason (15:47 ): That’s a great word. As we all go about our lives this week, I pray that we can all keep in our minds that we are to put others above ourselves, as an opportunity to demonstrate what Christ is like, to live out the gospel with our actions so that we might be able to present it with our words. We hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to this episode, and we hope that you have a great week. That you have opportunities to put others above yourselves and that you take those opportunities, and that, most importantly, that we all get to share the gospel this week. We will see you next time on the Kanakuk Institute Podcast.