Many of us knew her as KP in her days as a camper and later a staff member at Delanco Camp, but now that she’s graduated college and tied the knot Kerri Paul is Kerri Lord and her initials are now officially KL.
But even as she and her husband Joel prepare to go to the Czech Republic as missionaries, Delanco Camp is very much on her mind. We caught up with Kerri recently through e-mail after joining her Facebook group Czech Out the Lords and learning about the mission field that awaits her and her husband on their blog.
You and your husband Joel are preparing to go into the mission field in the Czech Republic. We’ve had dozens of friends from camp go on short-term and long-term missions to places all over the world but I don’t recall anyone going to the Czech Republic before. How did you and your husband end up being called to this part of the world and how long ago did you start to feel the tug to go into missions?
After graduating and getting married, my husband Joel and I knew we wanted to serve in ministry full-time somehow, but we didn’t know exactly what ministry or where. We had both traveled on short-term teams in high school and were able to study abroad several times in college. We started the job search in the states, as we looked into sports recreation and youth pastor jobs. Joel was in the final interview for a youth pastor position when we decided to pray a little harder about God’s direction for us. Feeling a little uneasy about this particular job, we looked into any possible needs anywhere in the world for Global Partners (our missions organization). That very day, through an e-mail to Joel’s father, a director of Global Partners had specifically asked if Joel and I were ready to come back to the Czech Republic for Sports Ministry and Teaching English as a Second Language. Joel and I have both been to the Czech before and we knew from then on, that this is what God had planned for us.
Joel and I have been very fortunate with having several opportunities to travel the world. We had both traveled on short-term mission teams in high school and were able to study abroad several times in college. God really instilled a love for His people through those mission trips and semesters aboard. We believe he prepared us even further in college as we both graduated with degrees in intercultural studies, and minors in missions and sports management.
What role would you say your time at Delanco Camp has played in your decision to become a missionary? Were you one of the campers who dreaded missionary night and hoped you wouldn’t be called to the mission field or were you the type who loved hearing stories from the mission field and couldn’t wait until you were old enough to go?
Delanco Camp absolutely had an influence in my decision to become a missionary. As a young camper I really enjoyed hearing stories from all the missionaries but didn’t believe I would ever fit the “missionary type.” I didn’t think I knew enough about the Bible and I didn’t want to have to dress funny and live in a village somewhere across the world.
One week at camp, I met Billy and Jo Coppedge, who are missionaries to Africa. They performed a skit that showed you didn’t have to wear lame clothes or carry a Bible around 24/7 to be a missionary. That week they challenged all campers AND staff members to surrender all and say “Send me, Lord!” I went to the altar that night and asked God to send me – and here I am today, being “sent.”
Speaking of camp, how did you start going to Delanco in the first place and what kept you going back as a camper and later as a staff member?
My mother attended Delanco Camp when she was younger and so she introduced me to camp. The friends I met and the staff members kept me coming back for years. When I started to get older, I strived to be a staff member that campers would look up to, just as I had in the past.
Do you have any favorite camp memories or Delanco-related stories?
I could list a thousand memories but a few stick out in particular. I remember the hayrides and how we would sing songs at the top of our lungs. I remember Boost! and its wonderful taste. My favorite meal was always ham and cheese on a pretzel roll. Night games were the best and random dance parties were always a blast. Last but not least, Delanco Camp is the sacred place at which I committed my life completely to our Lord and Savior. For that, Delanco Camp will forever be an important part of who I am.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of preparing for the mission field. How can we as a community be praying for and supporting you and Joel?
Being a missionary requires a tremendous amount of faith and trust in God’s provision. Joel and I have absolutely no control over our funding and sometimes that’s a scary thing. Money is always a tough issue. Please pray with us that God provides jobs in this “in between” stage of our lives and that our support team will come together in His time. Also, that God will provide the strength we need to get through this support-raising process.
Tell us a little bit about the country and what you plan to be doing once you get to Czechoslovakia? I know they are good at hockey and I managed to spell the country’s name right the first time typing this e-mail, but I don’t know too much else.
After what was known as the “Velvet Revolution,” in 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two countries – Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic is considered to be the “center” of Europe as it is surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland. Most European countries are only a few hours drive from the Czech.
Czech has a population of about 10.2 million people and in the city of Brno, where Joel and I will be living, there are about 500,000 people. Within the city of Brno, we’ll be living in the suburb of Lesna with about 40,000 people. In a spiritual sense, only 1/4 of 1 percent of the country’s population consider themselves evangelical Christians. There is only ONE church for every 30,000 people. Some say Czech is considered to be the most atheistic country in the world with over 76 percent professing atheism. With statistics like these, we’ve got quite the task ahead of us. Joel and I will be working at a place called the Maják Center (meaning Lighthouse in Czech). This community center includes the one evangelical church for that area, along with missionary offices, English classrooms, a coffee shop, basketball court, beach volleyball court, and soccer field. The facility is a huge blessing to both the Church and the community as it can be used in many ways to reach the Czech people.
Specifically, Joel and I will be running an after-school recreation program, organizing club sports, and I will be teaching English.
In closing, because I still think of you as KP, I’m wondering if anyone has taken to calling you KL now that your last name is Lord?
Actually, no one has taken to calling me “KL” quite yet. I think, while in New Jersey, the nickname of “KP” can live on!
Is there anything else you’d like to add for the benefit of the Delanco Camp community and readers of this blog?
Delanco Camp is a fantastic place to grow in your relationship with Christ and others. It really has made me into who I am today. The friends I’ve made at camp have become lifetime friends – some were even in my wedding! Delanco is and will always be a part of me and I encourage those who feel the same about camp to reach out to neighbors and friends, so that they, too, can enjoy all that Delanco Camp has to offer.