I have just experienced a devastating personal loss

I have just experienced a devastating personal loss.  I have been crying a lot and I am in mourning.  I am overcome with a towering sense of sadness.

Some have tried to tell me that I shouldn’t feel loss.  It has become politically incorrect in the church to mourn the loss of loved ones.  Recently, a famous preacher said this at a funeral: “if you really have faith, you will not feel any sadness at all.”

However, Acts 8: 2 says, “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.”  That is what devout men do…they grieve over loss.

Jesus mourned at Lazarus’ grave: “And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”-John 11:34-36.

These verses overflow with meaning for those who lose loved ones.  Here was the creator of faith weeping.  How can it be unbelief if Jesus mourned?

Moreover, He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead so why weep?   The Jews who were watching understood why.  He wept because He loved Lazarus.  That is why I am weeping…I loved my friend Dusty Kemp.

You never heard of Dusty Kemp?  Well then, I am about to enrich your life.  Dusty abruptly went to heaven on Sunday night December 11th. A week before that, I stood in his pulpit and called him the best kept secret in America.  It is high time for that secret to get out.


When he taught the Bible, it came alive.  He parked his soul in the Gospels and never ceased to amaze the seeker and satisfy the hungry.  You always got light and a fresh angle to the Word of God.

Repeatedly, the question crashed in my soul: How could such a mighty man die?  The Holy Spirit took me to these verses: 2 Kings 13: 14 “Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die.”  Verse 21: “So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.”

What can kill a man whose bones raise the dead die?  The answer is a broken heart.  Elisha was banned from prophesying for almost 40 years.  The counsel of God that burned within him used him up because it was rejected.

Dusty preached against the grain in a religious culture that valued size and fame.  He did it to his own hurt.  It shortened his life.

Dusty was a contradiction that increased his pain.  He loved people and didn’t want to lose anyone.  He also loved truth. At great personal cost, he would do what was right.

He would constantly analyze things to death to be sure he was doing the right thing. This also shortened his life.  I was a constant source of frustration to me. I begged him more times than I can count  to stop doing this.

He was not a professional pastor.  He winged it with a singular desperation to do what he believed was right.

He sacrificed himself in his humor.  He could laugh at himself better than anyone I ever knew.

He tried to seem tough but he was the quintessential softie.  Here is the last text we shared: Me: “I am in your office barking orders so your staff feels at home.”  Dusty: “Awesome! Thank you. Fire someone.”  You see there it is…he is talking big about something he could never do without great inner anguish.

He was hard on himself but forgiving to others.  If there was a question about who was right he would find a way to take the blame.

Did Dusty Kemp accomplish a lot with his life?  He would say no.   But he accomplished more that we could ever imagine.  You may not see it at first because our mega church values only reward those who build empires.


Here’s the thing…the goal is not to engrave your name on monuments, grand buildings or sprawling campuses.  You are supposed to engrave your name on the hearts of people.   A man of God’s legacy is in the souls who were transformed, the minds that reverberate with your teachings and the stories that people share about you.  By this measure my friend Dusty was a spectacular success.  Untold numbers of people all over creation carry his legacy.

That is why New Life Church will continue to thrive.  Mary Kemp will be graced with special power.  The church’s wonderful ministries will continue to excel.  I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Dusty Kemp was not just my friend he was a great man, a wonderful intellect, a great soul of matchless courage, one of the great men of the earth—and yet we have no right to bow down to his memory simply because he was great. Great orators, great soldiers, great lawyers, often use their gifts for selfish reasons. We should pay a tribute of love and respect to Dusty Kemp because he used his matchless power for the good of man and for the Glory of Christ.












37 thoughts on “I have just experienced a devastating personal loss

  1. Mario, it was at Bread of Life that I was saved. After listening to months of Dusty sharing the Word. You were visiting BOL and gave an altar call. I praise God for that day that began my transformation and for Dusty and for you Mario. Dusty was certainly a very special man of God.

  2. I will pray for Holy Spirit to surround all who moun with God’s love & His comfort. My condolences. Matt5:4 this is one scripture that helped comfort me, when I was hurting after my mom went home then 18 months later my youngest brother and again 20 months after that another brother went to the Lord.thank you Jesus.

    1. Colleen It is very kind of you to pray for all those that are mourning. I lost my mother in Jan. 2016 and now one of my sisters about a month ago. Obviously, you have dealt with lots of loss too. GBY.

  3. Isaiah 57:1-2
    The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil,
    He enters into peace; They rest in their beds, Each one who walked in his upright way.

    May God comfort you in your loss!

  4. So sorry good pastors are not plentiful.The ones who told you that grieving is wrong are so nuts.We do not understand why these things happen when a person so dedicated and making such a change is taken.God Bless you and his family.

  5. Dusty was a great guy. I got to know him while my wife, Wendy and I were doing disaster relief in Houston for Hurricane Katrina and Rita.
    Prayer for Mary and the family as well as with you Mario.
    Dr Gary S Hooper

  6. That was beautiful; a wonderful tribute to a dear friend and man of God. Thank you for sharing it with me ❤️

  7. You said summed Dusty’s life up very well. The best way I could describe him is this: Dusty could have probably picked me out of as crowd as someone who has gone to his church. He did not know may day to day life. We did not hang out. However, there were times he knew me better than any man who has walked the face of this earth, besides Jesus. He breathed life into the Bible. He had a very personal relationship with God. I grieve and cry with you over the loss of this man.

  8. Mario thanks for honoring my Pastor Dusty Kemp in such an honorable way. From one great man of God such as yourself to another great man of God in Dusty Kemp. Yes, he was the best kept secret, may the Lord honor his life, ministry, and family.

  9. Jesus made a distinction between that which is “highly esteemed among men” and “an abomination in the sight of God”. Men ask how many we run on Sundays, the size of the annual budget, the asset and balance sheet without asking about Kingdom fruit. I did not know this man of God but can tell by this description of his life and labor of love in the ministry that he “poured himself out as an offering” as the Apostle Paul said. I believe that his reward will be great and in heaven we will hear names called by the Master that were not big names on earth, but highly esteemed in the sight of God.

  10. Dusty touched our hearts and lives in ways that were beautiful, come to Jesus giant nuggets!!! We loved him so much and we’re eternally grateful for his Selfless Surrender! He was truly One of a kind! New Life Church was our home for 33 solid yrs. Our lives are so much richer because of his heart for Jesus. We are lives that w changed because of the testimony of Jesus in Dusty. So very thankful!

  11. Dusty touched our hearts and lives in ways that were beautiful, come to Jesus giant nuggets!!! We loved him so much and we’re eternally grateful for his Selfless Surrender! He was truly One of a kind! New Life Church was our home for 33 solid yrs. Our lives are so much richer because of his heart for Jesus. We are lives that were changed because of the testimony of Jesus in Dusty. So very thankful!

  12. People grieve in so many different ways. When my husband died, we were married 44 years, I was in shock! I had to come out of the shock, before I could completely grieve. I remember having my face turned to a window, as I sat at my desk and the tears started to flow, then I felt my year old grandson’s hand was catching my tears. He had never seen me cry. I needed to cry so badly, but for his sake I collected myself and said oh honey I didn’t know you were in here. When Will asked me to marry him at Southwestern Assembly of God College. God spoke to me in my right ear, and said This is my gift to you! And he was my mighty man of God! My prayers go out to all of you! God’s blessing, also. Then months later, I lost my pastor Steve Hill. Two hard blows but God never left me.

    1. I’m sad that you could not cry in front of your grandson. You missed a great opportunity to teach him about grieving. Children need to grieve loss too – no matter how small. Grieving is not knowledge you are born with. It is taught.

  13. Bless you Brother,Dusty sounded wonderful to know. Sorry for your loss.
    Haven’t seen u I need yrs.we left California in 94. Always loved you uncompromising truth.
    We live in northern Georgia fighting a strong religious spirit.

  14. I first heard YOU preach at Bread of Life before they got their church building they’re in now. I didn’t go there really long,but I went through their 30 week course ,and thoroughly enjoyed that. Loved getting to hear him preach and you,and Jeff Fenholt. Great memories. Will pray for you and all of us whose lives were touched by Dusty Kemp. ❤

  15. Dusty is a great loss and great losses are mourned, He was our little Dusty and we loved him and we are going to cry or eyes out and when I see pennies on the ground , I am going to pick them up and pray for some unsaved soul like Dusty said to do and I am going to try not to cry as I bend to pick it up . Love to You….

  16. Pastor Dusty was one of the best! I was a part of Bread of Life and when I moved from Houston I missed his teachings. He treated everyone with respect, from the door greeters to his staff. He made time to make sure the home groups were following the guidelines that BOL established. I would often catch him on the radio and always was ministered to. My prayers are with his family and his followers.

  17. Dusty Kemp was a friend to the friendless…we walked in together to serve as host pastors to John Osteen at one of his conferences. I was immediately moved in my spirit at his very presence. He encouraged our conversation with his gentle manner. Some years later I sat and ate with him and Jeff Fenholt. He made everyone at the table feel comfortable and at peace. A great man but a greater friend. He will be missed and my heart is filled with sorrow. God bless his family and the ministry Pastor Kemp and God built together.

  18. Psalm 116: 15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” I was never taught the real meaning of this verse until very recently. For some reason the translators chose to use the word ‘precious’ leading us to believe that our death as born again Christians is of amazing value to Him. No. The word ‘precious’ in the Hebrew comes from a root word that means ‘costly’. Whenever our heavenly Father receives another child of His into His immediate Presence, it costs Him a lot. We are of great value to Him here on earth. There really is no one else exactly like you who can do the work He has assigned you to accomplish for Him while in our ‘earth suit’. When we enter His immediate Presence, it’s over for us here on earth and we enter into rest. I cannot forget this verse after I learned the true meaning of it. Your dear friend will be greatly missed here on earth, not only by you but by the One who enlisted him for service in His Kingdom on earth, but now with open arms of love, His heavenly Father has welcomed him into eternal rest, joy and amazing peace.

  19. Brother Mario,
    So sorry to hear of your loss.
    You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
    Love to you and Mechelle.
    Merry Christmas.
    Ted and Judy Garrick

  20. Praying that God’s peace will comfort all who love Dusty: “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.”
    ‭‭PHILIPPIANS‬ ‭4:4-9‬ ‭AMP‬‬

  21. Uncle Mario, as I call you.
    You have been a part of New Life Chuch family from the get go.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this about our loss of a great pastor.
    You Are A Great Man Of God. Continue your works as you grieve and pray for Mary Kemp and our church.
    Dusty will be greatly missed. He was so inspiring.
    Godspeed, Laurie Razminas

  22. For 25 years I sat under My Pastor Kemp’s teaching and I never once walked away empty minded, empty hearted nor empty spirited. Truly I believe Holy Spirit flowed through Pastor Kemp to make God’s Word come alive for the so many of us that had been deprived by “religion”. I am thankful to God for the time He allowed me in the nearness of His Living Word through
    My Pastor Dusty Kemp💞

  23. Pastor Kemp was a true blessing. I thank God for the many years me and my family were a part of New Life church. I was a single mom(widow) raising my kids when I first started attending there. This church, pastor Mary and staff blessed us so much and helped us so much all throughout our time there. He will be greatly missed and always remembered for his love for Jesus! Thank you for this great tribute to him, he loved you and thought very highly of you!

  24. The loss of Pastor has left an ache in my heart. He was such a gifted teacher …. ministered to you so you could minister to others — who inspired you with the Scripture. Of all the times I moved in and out of Houston, I always considered him my pastor & he always will have that place in my heart.

  25. Mario ……you are truly uniquely gifted by God and thus have recognized the Giftings of God in your dear friend’s life as a comrade in arms to the Body of Christ and as two disseminators of the Gospel to enhance and supplant the Kingdom of God with Spirit-filled and anointed wisdom
    Truths …..nuggets of nourishment from Gods Banqueting table ….thanks be to God for your servant hearts
    That have inspired and ignited so many hearts to Jesus Christ over these beautiful years …may His unfailing Love keep your heart filled with the Peace of God that passes all understanding and that keeps you standing for His Truths….that pierce the darkness and shed light to carry that torch to future generations for His Glory!

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