Called: Robert and Carol Bett
By Mercy Kambura
The first time my pastor asked me to preach a sermon, I was so insecure that I asked him to write the sermon for me. I had been a Christian since I was a teenager; I read my Bible and believed the Holy Spirit guided me, but I didn’t know how to package and deliver a sermon. That’s the first time I knew that even with the Word and the Holy Spirit, I needed training.
Growing up, we hosted a missionary every Sunday in our home, and I always felt utterly disturbed. There seemed to be great needs, and I asked myself, “Who will go to these places and help solve these problems?”
Years later when I was 24, one of the missionaries told me, “Robert, we feel the Lord has called you, but you do not want to be obedient to the calling.”
In time, my wife, Carol, and I decided to support missionaries with money we raised through our farming.
While I preached often in my church, I felt inadequate. So, I enrolled in Scott Bible College in Machakos, Kenya, with a single goal – to go to the mission field.
I told my husband to go to the field and I, an athlete, would go for athletic competitions and provide the money. So, I went to the camp and came home for the weekend. After two years, the Lord showed me I should join Robert in Bible college.
After completing theological training, we felt the need for knowledge in cross-cultural missions. We heard about TIMO, Training in Ministry Outreach with Africa Inland Mission (AIM). It felt perfect – learning first-hand on the mission field. We went to South Sudan and lived among the Lopits for six months, learning language and building relationships. We followed a strict curriculum, writing papers, exams and reports for the study period.
Going to an unreached people group can be frustrating but taking time to train among them transformed our ministry. This question kept us focused: “Why are we here?”
The community didn’t want missionaries preaching to them; but living with and among them was a great ice breaker. After two months, the chief, who had wanted nothing to do with us, brought us a chicken and officially invited us to stay and get him a Bible.
My advice to missionaries is: “Go, feeding on and living the Bible in the village, so people can see a difference and desire to follow Christ.”
Training helped us differentiate between missions, evangelism and discipleship. If you want to do missions, learn the language and look for ways to approach the culture with the gospel. Many people want to evangelize immediately and meet with resistance. Training also helps you avoid misinterpreting the Bible.
Training helps you deal with your character. Sometimes people pray spiritual warfare over issues they have caused. Getting your character in line is vital.
By the time we finished the two-year training, we had no doubt that we must do missions.
The team is a great learning environment as you adjust both to your colleagues and to a different culture.
There is no way to know what training you will need at the beginning. Often you have to get some training, go to the mission field, then evaluate what else you need. We do not ignore the power of the Holy Spirit in missions and preaching, but getting training is invaluable.
Training also helps you avoid misinterpreting the Bible. Sharing the Word with no training could have devastating results.
Being in a different culture causes you to observe first. Ignorance can cause you to make mistakes that will hinder your work and the work of other missionaries reaching that community after you.
- For our growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- For the Lord’s provision for our studies.
- For new Lopit believers to grow strong in the faith.
Robert and Carol are missionaries from Kenya to the Lopit nation of South Sudan. They are currently in Nairobi for a study break. They have two sons, Neil and Gerry. Contact them at email@example.com.