Exciting News to Share

“Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you” (Isaiah 55:5).

Marion and Phaisa are the babies of New Promise Home, and they love to be with Aunty Audra

I moved to Kenya two months ago, and from day one I just knew this is where I’m supposed to be. In fact, my desire for Kenya woke me up most mornings I was living in Uganda. It was a crazy experience to be so plugged into life and ministry, forging new friendships, and having the time of my life while carrying around a burning desire for somewhere else.

There’s not enough time to tell you all the ways Father spoke to me about this new direction. In the span of six months, I’ve received so many prophetic words and signs of God’s faithfulness and just an overdose of the peace, love, and happiness that is found in being right where Father’s called you. And what’s even more incredible is that I know this is only the beginning!

The excitement in my heart for this new season and all of the wonderful ministry opportunities unfolding before me can only be described as “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

Heaven invades earth when you and I walk in our divine destinies. Eternal life and all of the incredible benefits of salvation are for today, right now, and not just for the life to come.

I was recently informed by another missionary that “this is not deepest, darkest Africa anymore.” It was meant to be a warning to me in regards to not seeing people as backwards and needing a white person to be their savior. I looked at this man with such a confused expression on my face. I didn’t come to Africa to be anyone’s savior. Last time I checked, that’s Jesus’ job description.

However, there is still room for the kingdom of God to grow in Kenya. There is still a need for sound, biblical teaching accompanied by the power of God seen in signs, miracles, and wonders.

Kenya is a developing nation, but it’s the fastest growing nation in East Africa. I’m writing you on an iPad from a home with running water (including hot water) and electricity. My hosts own a television. Everyone owns cell phones, and many people have smartphones. And yet, witch doctors are still a major influence on communities. There are areas of Kenya where I was told to never, ever eat or drink anything because there’s a possibility someone will try to poison me. Each day I see poverty and impoverishment that shatters my heart. A widow who barely speaks English called me on the phone asking for money because there was no food and she was hungry. Most orphans are poverty orphans. Mob justice is still prevalent. Tribalism influences every level of society.

So while I must agree this is not deepest, darkest Africa, there is work to be done. And I know that I have a part to play in the expansion of the kingdom in Kenya.

My friends, Pastors Benjamin and Kara Diaz, invited me to serve with their ministry, New Promise Homes, which is a children’s home for orphans. Currently, we have sixteen children in our care, with plans to build at least two more houses in the next year. My role is to help the Kenyan directors, Pastors David and Selina Walukhu, oversee the ministry and its expansion.

These boys and girls have come from hopeless situations, yet their hearts are so innocent and hopeful. The way these kids respond to God’s love for them, how thankful they are for the opportunity to live in a nice home, to receive an education, to have food and clothes blows my mind. The capacity of a child to adapt and overcome, to thrive, is truly why Father God calls us to have a childlike faith. It’s the ability to see beyond the current circumstance and trust that God’s future for you is better and brighter than your wildest dreams. This is why New Promise Homes exist.

On top of working with New Promise Homes, I also have the opportunity to help with church planting with Nehemiah Ministries, a local church network. Right now, I’m on the church planting team for Kipkaren, Kenya. Our small fellowship meets on Wednesdays, and we will be meeting in a building by the end of the year. The team is planning evangelism outreaches, and we are actively raising funds to buy chairs, sound equipment, and to pay rent for a building.

In the days and weeks to come, I will be sharing more about the ministries where I’m serving. This post, however, is to officially announce that I will be staying in Kenya as a full-time missionary. I know Kenya is where I need to be serving. Maybe this isn’t a surprise to you, but I wanted to wait and see before I went public. In other times of my life, I’ve come forward too soon and found myself getting ahead of God. If everything goes according to plan, you probably won’t be seeing me stateside until some time next year.

To those who’ve supported my trip so far, thank you so much! I’m here because you believed in me and the calling God gave me. Your financial support and prayers mean so much to me, and I am more thankful than can be adequately expressed in this post.

In light of my decision to stay long term, I am asking for your continual support of my ministry. My monthly expenses are about $850. This amount will cover my stateside expenses as well as my in-country living expenses. Whether you choose to give monthly, quarterly, or simply as you feel led through the year, I want to thank you in advance.

My giving information is:

PayPal: @agkenn
Venmo: @agkenn

Checks can be mailed to:

1711 Greenbriar Drive
Fultondale, AL 35068

If you have any questions, feel free to private message me on Facebook or Instagram. Or you can leave a reply below this post. You can also email me at: audragkennedy@gmail.com

Much Love,
Audra Kennedy

My Trip to Western Uganda

Hello Friends!

My trip to western Uganda was amazing! Our team taught two workshops in the towns of Kansenene and Kabujogera on discipleship and evangelism. This was a special trip for us all, especially Tim. He’s been a friend and mentor to the pastors in this area for over twenty years. It was a lot of fun to serve Tim and the Sent Network.

I was blown away at the level of hospitality our team was shown. This is something I am still meditating upon…I want to be radically generous with anyone who stays in my home (when I get a home!) There’s something about opening up your home and table to others that truly forges eternal bonds.

In the west, I had my first tastes of matoke (a savory banana), sugar cane, and kalo (a millet bread. There’s a possibility that I’m forgetting something, but we had so much delicious food it was hard to keep up! We drank cups and cups of tea with the freshest milk possible. The west is a farming area, and is known for its dairy cows as well.

My new friend Bryden (he’s about 4 years old) took a picture of me at dinner time

Around the table, the team and I shared in so much rich conversation. We talked about the differences in US and Ugandan culture. The topics spanned from ministry to marriage to family to politics. Once again, breaking bread is where bonds are formed and we had so much fun!

There was so much hunger and excitement in the air as we taught. It was both convicting and encouraging. The gospel is meant to be the most exciting news in the world. Not just something common. The gospel is powerful and transformative. It’s compelling and leads us to new life and new depths in Christ. (I taught on “What is the Gospel?” And this is what I shared with the classes.) So what are we waiting for? We are the heralds of this great news!

One of the participants sharing the Three Circles with the group. Everyone did such a great job in sharing the gospel plan!

So our team taught on the power of the gospel and how to share it with others. We also taught about the importance of biblical discipleship and how studying the Bible together in a simple manner is how disciples are made and churches are formed. These churches do not require buildings, a worship leader, a choir, and a full-time pastor. Churches are formed as disciples make disciples who make disciples. Multiplication is most possible when things are kept simple: a community centered around the gospel, studying scripture, and obeying what it says.

I will be sharing more about these facets of discipleship over time.

Our time in the west was the first time Tim’s taught this discipleship program in that area. Many leaders and church members signed up to go through the program, and Tim is returning to the West in May or June with a new team to continue the training.

Part of what we taught involved us going out in teams for evangelism. This is where the students shared the Three Circles method of sharing the gospel (once again, I will share more about it in the coming weeks). In the two teams that I went out with last week, 8 people made confessions of faith!

One man came to faith who is a known alcoholic, but what I saw in that man was a great leader and influencer of many. In fact, he gathered about twenty people in his yard for us to share the gospel with them! I am praying fiercely for my new brother, and for his growth as the local leaders disciple him.

Our team—Tim, Michayla, Emily, and myself—along with our hosts: Pastor Robert, Mama Bob (his wife), Pastor Israel, Mama Irene (Pastor Israel’s wife), along with their children and grandchildren

Also, our team was asked to baptize new believers in Kabujogera. This was my first time to baptize anyone! And it’s probably the best baptism service I’ve ever been a part of. They were planning fun music and everyone was singing and dancing, cheering on the new believers as they made public professions of faith. When we drove back to town, our caravan was its own parade—we played music and honked our horns, all the while shouting praise to Jesus—and we drove around the center of town rejoicing.

Seriously, all churches need to make baptisms fun. My heart was so full of joy! All of the baptism candidates radiated the love and joy of Jesus. They had the biggest smiles on their faces. Yes, following Jesus requires commitment, but it’s also a joy to follow Him. Any sacrifice we make is so little compared the the great cost of His love for us. These were the thoughts swirling through my mind that evening.

Baptizing new believers with Pastor Robert and Tim

I can’t imagine a better way to kick off my time in Uganda. I’m forever grateful to Tim for bringing us to the west with him. And thank you so much to everyone who’s supporting my trip! Wow. I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for each and every one of you.

Much Love,
Audra

Thanksgiving Blessings

rbtc-sealThanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

It’s a great time to reflect on the blessings of being in Christ—He’s given us everything!—and to recall all the ways His hand is moving in our lives.

Did I mention that turkey and dressing is one of my most favorite meals?

There’s nothing like a good pan of dressing (or stuffing as it is known by my friends above the Mason-Dixon Line) to make the heart happy.

And while I am thrilled that my family is invading Broken Arrow to visit me, I was reminded that many of my fellow Rhema classmates will not be sitting around the dinner table with their natural family.

The good news, though, is that no one will be alone because the Rhema family is huge—and worldwide!

Many graduates add extra dinner plates to their tables.

Many current students bring a passel of people home with them for the week.

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Mark 10:29-30:

Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

I am so thankful for the friendships that are burgeoning this school year!

My more extroverted personality makes me a social butterfly, so leaving the place where my roots run deepest was a challenge for me.

Jesus’ promise, however, remains a source of constant comfort and encouragement.

I have sat around numerous tables with new friends, both students and alumni, since moving to Oklahoma. Every single person has told me the same thing:

If you ever need anything—and I mean anything—do not hesitate to call.

This one statement illustrates the Rhema family at its best. And it’s one of the many reasons I give thanks for Rhema Bible Training College.

Ordinary Hamburgers

 “This is just an ordinary hamburger. Is that okay with you?” 

I was invited to eat lunch with a few friends and they were bringing the food.

“Of course, I love ordinary hamburgers–I love all hamburgers!” 

And it’s true. I was not lying to my friends, blowing happiness and sunshine their way to be nice.

Ask anyone who knows me well: I’ve never met a hamburger that I haven’t liked. If I had to choose between a salad and a hamburger, a hamburger will win every time.

What got me thinking was the phrase “ordinary hamburger.”

My friends and I had a great conversation over ordinary hamburgers.

I loved every minute of it because I was secretly thrilled to be invited to eat an ordinary hamburger on an ordinary day for the sake of connecting with someone else.

I am a big fan of ordinary. 

If I had to choose between big, magical, once-in-a-lifetime moments and small, ordinary, yet repeatable moments, that choice is a no brainer to me. Ordinary wins every time.

Because 95% of life is ordinary. Chasing the extraordinary 5% is costing us big time. 

So, please, invite someone over for an ordinary experience, like coffee or dinner, and have some fun!

Because we’re family

The Kingdom of God is an upside down Kingdom from beginning to end.

And I struggle as a young person to wrap my head around these upside down commands because nothing about our world is about putting others first.

The worlds says, “Me first!” and the Kingdom says, “Me last!” 

Check out Romans 12:10 in these 3 translations:

NLT: Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

ERV: Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself.

MSG: Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

We are to love everyone like they are our brothers and sisters. This makes sense when you think about it because there are only two types of people in the world: Those who are already our family in Christ and those we want to see become our family in Christ.

My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 5:16. 

 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

Evangelism is not about us versus them. Outreach is not about being a bully and forcing Jesus down someone’s throat.

I can’t get away from these thoughts…

I am not sharing the gospel to get ahead.

I am not seeking a platform to build “my ministry.”

 Evangelism has absolutely NOTHING to do with my advancement and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with showing someone else the path to redemption. 

The path of humility is all about taking jealousy and the need to get ahead off the table.

We’re on this journey together.

We’re growing together.

We’re serving together.

You’re not more important than me and I’m not more important than you because we’re family. 

 

 

 

Just keep asking

“I’m just going to keep asking if I can help. Who knows? One day the answer might be yes.”

After the Boiler Room I was teasing one of my friends–a mom with two young kids–about her not accepting my requests to help ferry things to her car. 

She’s never really needed my help because her husband is great at taking care of that kind of stuff–which is awesome btw. 

It got me to thinking…

There’s nothing wrong with sticking your neck out after being turned down by whoever you’re trying to help. 

Just keep asking. 

Just keep being a friend. 

I truly believe that’s one of the biggest reasons most Christians aren’t making disciples like we should be. 

Most of us give up way too fast on people. 

Most of us have bought into the lie of microwave evangelism when evangelism and discipleship is more akin to a crock pot. 

It takes time. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in different communities where trust is everything. 

You have to show up and keep your word. When you don’t, you better fess up fast because the people can smell a phony a mile away. 

This kind of intentional lifestyle of service is refining; think about it like sand paper that takes off the rough edges. It demands absolute sincerity. 

And it’s truly the most worthwhile way to live. 

I am a better person and Jesus follower because of this demand to slow down, to take off my mask. 

Going back to what I said earlier, never stop asking how you can help. 

Being available to serve is a foundational teaching within the gospel. If Jesus’ mission was to serve and not to be served, then that’s our mission too. 

Be unrelenting in your pursuit to help, to pray, to encourage. 

You might get turned down 9 times out of 10. 

You might get cussed out. 

You might be misunderstood. 

Just keep asking. 

Because your quest to serve will provide opportunities to share the love of Christ in ways you could never orchestrate on your own. 

Lessons from Finding Dory

Finding Dory was awesome!

This is one of the few times when I think the sequel is better than the original. 

The journey of Dory, Nemo, Marlin, and the gang was quite epic. 

I knew it would have a happy ending, but Finding Dory really stuck the ending–I didn’t see it happening that way!

Plus, it tied in really nicely with Finding Nemo. I loved how Pixar weaved the two stories together. 

Here’s some of the lessons I learned from Finding Dory:

  • Family is #1
  • Life lessons are truly unforgettable and will always guide you to make the right decisions
  • Always be yourself 
  • Don’t say things you don’t mean
  • Just keep swimming (couldn’t resist!)

Go watch the movie. It’s super cute. 

Momentary Challenges

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to talk with my family and friends a bit more than I was during the school year. 

Technology makes it easy to stay in touch. Thanks to Facebook, email, text, and FaceTime living so far away is much more bearable. 

Honestly, I have struggled with a touch of homesickness the last week. 

I know that Rhema is where I’m supposed to be, but these feelings can creep up faster than you realize. 

Reminding myself what this season is all about–following the Holy Spirit–is why I chose to move away. 

This is something I needed and wanted to do. 

And while I do miss my family and friends, I know that they are supportive of my desire to follow God. 

I’ve come face to face with homesickness ( and I’m sure this won’t be the last time).

I’m also living in such a sweet season of blessing. 

The amount of stuff I’m learning at school and in ministry service is more than I ever imagined.

It makes these momentary challenges worth it. 

Game Night

Here is a great recipe for fun:

  • Friends
  • Dr. Pepper
  • BLTs
  • Clue

Granted, I’m not the greatest at Clue, but it was fun to hang out. 

We laughed a lot. 

We munched on barbecue chips (solving murders makes you hungry.)

Friendship is awesome. 

Now I’m headed towards bed because it’s after midnight and I desperately want to finish the last 4-5 chapters of my novel.

A Moment of Silence

Since when did complete agreement become the goal? 

I’ve listened to the news quite a bit since the Orlando massacre and the amount of political talk and civil rights talk and gun rights talk is nauseating.

What about just being sad for 5 minutes before we launch into “These are the issues we need to address”?  

Which, by the way, is what everyone says EVERY SINGLE TIME after a tragedy of this magnitude.

Here’s what I want to say: Everyone, shut your mouth. 

This is not the time to start a conversation about gun control.

This is not the time to start a conversation about conservatives vs. liberals.

This is not the time for Christians and the LGBTQ community to stand off nose to nose.

This is not the time to pick a part Islam.

I just want everyone to please be quiet. 

There are 49 families who are mourning. Their son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, lover was killed.

If you can’t think of a kind, compassionate thing to say, please shut up. 

We can riot in the streets later.

We can debate for hours later.

I am sad about this senseless loss of life. None of those victims set out thinking, This is it, my last day on earth.” They were just out having fun (albeit at a later hour than I like to be out) on a Saturday night. 

Please pray for the families. There are some hard days ahead.

Pray for ways you can show kindness and compassion to those around you–no matter how different they are. 

Pray for strength and wisdom on how we should all properly respond to this tragedy.

But for now, I think we all need to take a breath and just sit in this space for a minute. Let’s take a few moments to grieve before responding rashly.