Daniel Kemp pauses talking about his journey toward becoming part of The Home of the Nomads to watch a group of skateboarders and rollerbladers hit the half pipe. “I'm having difficulty concentrating on doing this interview,” he says, “because I really want to be talking to them. I want to know about why they love to skate and the crazy experiences they’ve had.” Kemp has a heart that is rooted in relationship and he's constantly seeking to build and maintain them.
Daniel began his life in Michigan but moved to Utah with his mother and two older brothers when he was one. After living there for four or five years his mother married a guy named Tom. This was a relationship that had a promising beginning. Tom had converted to Christianity shortly before marrying Kemp's mother. A year or two into the marriage Tom's true colors began to show when he became verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive. This abuse was aimed primarily at Daniel since he was the youngest child.
Eventually, when he was twelve or thirteen, his mother divorced Tom but this only lasted for 10 months. The second marriage degraded again after four or five months. Daniel's mind was shaped to believe that money was of ultimate importance due to his step father's poor financial decisions.
Daniel's own walk toward faith began in the Catholic church when he was a child. His mother made attendance mandatory until he was around ten or eleven years old. From that point on she became more lenient on her attendance policy. This led to Kemp viewing both church and God as optional parts of his life. He neither prayed nor read the Bible much apart from the occasional church attendance.
The Middle and High School youth groups of a non-denominational church brought about a shift in his interest level. He began to gain popularity by turning the group into more of a “party" atmosphere. Although he may have been more interested in attending youth groups his focus became swallowed up in seeing it and Christianity as a popularity contest. The unfulfilling nature of the way in which he was living came to a head at the age of sixteen. Daniel had been bullied a lot in Middle and High School which led to severe depression, anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Kemp had been confusing popularity for fulfilling relationships and his world and life almost came to an end with an attempted suicide.
All of the depression and fear wasn’t the end for Kemp. It was only the beginning of the only true and lasting relationship one can find: the one with the Lord, Jesus Christ. He realized that he was in desperate need of something beyond himself to make it through the difficulties of life and began to take his faith much more seriously. His youth pastor, Tim, helped him to shape the path of what he really wanted to do with his life. It was at this point that Daniel’s desire to work with youth and help guide their faith was born.
His journey toward this goal took a few detours beginning with Kemp’s experience at college. His major was theater, which he had done since the age of three. Once it became a job to him his focus became more on getting a good grade and less on the passion behind performing. College came to an abrupt end for him when he dropped out in 2016 after crashing his car because he had been partying too much.
From there Kemp discovered the local music scene, primarily made up of Christian’s, in Michigan. This introduced him to the do-it-yourself attitude of artistry. He began to become more enamored with spoken word poetry and the popularity that it could potentially bring him. This led him to get involved and help out at shows anyway that he could. He was seeking relationships with fellow artists for the wrong reasons. He was invited to Pittsburgh by his friend Daniel Hassel, a Michigan based musician, for a show that he was performing there. He met Brittany Hartman, director of The Cove Art Center, and she got him his first ever show where he performed a single poem.
Kemp had gotten a glimpse of the work Brittany did at The Home of the Nomad, a place for artists to dwell, visit and be cared for, while he was in Pittsburgh. When the opportunity arose for him to be a part of the home in the winter of 2018 he jumped at the chance to be part of something bigger than himself. He moved to Pittsburgh with a self-serving mindset, consumed by what he could get out of it and how he could be noticed. Daniel fell into the familiar trap of being a workaholic and making sure that his wallet was always full. In August of 2019, upon the realization that his unhealthy life choices were not being supported by his housemates, he decided to leave the Home of the Nomad.
Upon leaving The Home of the Nomad, Kemp was in a place of strong identity loss and deep depression. He moved from heartbreak to heartbreak and job to job like a bored driver shifting lanes. In his heart, he knew that his actions were wrong but nobody in his life was holding him accountable. He was able to successfully fool everyone around him with the mask he was wearing. Kemp was unwilling to admit that he needed help or guidance.
In April of 2020, Daniel Kemp's life began to collapse. He was feeling the effects of not seeking God or proper relationship with him. His mind was set on moving back to Michigan but a few weeks prior to that his heart led him to visit Brittany and The Home of the Nomad to make amends for past mistakes. This helped to reaffirm that moving back home was not the best choice for him. The house presented him with an offer to stay there for a few months while he figured out his next life steps. The stipulation was put into place that he not work an actual job.
Kemp's return to the Home of the Nomad was not met with any leftover animosity from his previous stay there. He jumped in to the task of working wherever he was needed the most. Around the beginning of July he was presented with the opportunity to be a part of the ministry for an entire year. Prayer led him to make the choice of accepting this opportunity for ministry. His heart was filled with joy at the opportunity to work on lesson planning for the Cove.
Daniel is looking forward to the opportunity to connect with the students and build personal relationships with them. He Hope’s to provide them with someone that they can truly trust. A challenge that lies ahead for him is learning to trust his own leadership abilities as he plans out the weekly lessons for The Cove. He also hopes that The Home of the Nomad is able to grow together as a house so that none of its members are stagnant a year from now.
There are a few key lessons that God has taught Kemp in his life to help prepare him for this season. The first one is that he is not alone. He has had to refine his discernment in regards to the places he turns to for help, primarily being Jesus Christ and his teachings. He understands better that God designed our need for social connection and will guide us to the people who will help us grow in our lives. The second major lesson that he has learned is that being knocked down doesn’t have to be the end for anyone. He sees the proper process of getting back up again, especially if one causes their own stumble. He believes in analyzing the thing that caused us to fall and using it as an opportunity for growth.
Daniel Kemp is absolutely passionate about conversation and interacting with people. He has a strong desire to learn about people's stories and to have continued communication with them. He has a love for writing and sharing his experiences through spoken word poetry. He enjoys using his words to tell a story and create emotions. Another way in which Kemp loves to create is by singing and playing guitar. He likes to work alongside band members to create and perform a song.
As Kemp finishes telling his story a student who regularly attends The Cove approaches to talk to him. “Hey man, how’s it going?” Kemp asks him. The young man hesitates, “Well, I’m about to start my senior year and there are a lot of things that are going to be different.” “No worries man, there are plenty of leaders at The Cove who care and are ready and available to help where needed.” Kemp's optimistic response is part of his new hope to prioritize having healthy relationships for the right reasons as he continues forward on his journey.