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

Update from Kenya

I’ve been in Kenya for about a month now, and wow! I am in love with this country…there’s no other way for me to describe how at home I feel here. To know that I’m right where I’m supposed to be, serving Father with the right people and in the right places? For the first time in my life, I truly understand what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalms 37:4). There’s nothing like following God. You won’t be satisfied any other way.

The opportunity to serve at New Promise Home, and within the various churches is amazing. I was even asked to help with a church plant! Words cannot adequately explain how excited I am in this season. Something is happening in the spiritual world around us. People are hungry for true connection with God, to be discipled and connected with those in their world. I will be posting more frequently about the various activities and ministries that I will be serving over the coming months.

Thank you to everyone who’s supporting me on this journey! Please forgive me for not updating my blog over the last six weeks. One thing I’m learning is to adjust to new rhythms and schedules. And so much happened during my last month in Uganda that I let communication fall by the wayside! Le me give you a brief update.

I spent the month of May in Kampala, Uganda serving with Andrew Womack Ministries and Charis Bible College Uganda. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the city. Kampala is the New York City of Uganda. My friends and hosts took me to see the sites on the weekends, and it was the first time in my life that I lived with roommates outside of my college dormitory years. They taught me how to cook several traditional dishes, and it was just a fun time.

At Charis, the staff was preparing for a ministers conference that took place on June 2-4. I was able to help with the data entry for pre-registration. Our team entered over a thousand pastors’ names! The event was a huge success, and was the beginning of a new season for the Charis staff. The new directors, Junaid and Kelly, are true visionaries and carry Andrew Womack’s heart to train leaders. If you follow Andrew’s ministry, don’t be surprised when you start hearing of great things happening in East Africa.

The Charis Uganda students are on fire, and it has me excited to see the Spirit move in a mighty way throughout the nation. I’m also excited because a team of 2nd year Charis students are coming from Uganda to Kenya to serve for a week in September. They will be ministering about 30 minutes away from where I live, and I plan to join their team as I can!

I’m truly thankful for my time in Uganda. Being able to serve with my friends and pastors, Tim and Jill, was a dream come true. And my time at Charis forged new friendships for life and ministry.

None of this would’ve happened without your support! I’m excited to share this journey with you. My initial time in Kenya is set for six months. So be on the lookout for more updates!

If you’d like to support my work with the children and within the churches in and around Webuye, Kenya, my giving information is below.

You can send me an email at: audragkennedy@gmail.com

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

Getting started and settling in

It’s Day 3! I am headed out this afternoon to a discipleship group with the children on The Mountain, as Tim and Jill call the Love and Care outreach ministry for children. (It might be called something else—I’m still learning all the names!

This is my first time of ministry in Uganda, and I’m excited! My heart’s been for and towards the people and this season of time for so long. I’ve prayed in the spirit in much anticipation! It feels like I’m meeting folks that I already know, if that makes sense. They’re already in my heart.

Now begins the process of getting to know those I’m serving and learning the culture. As you think of me in the coming days, please pray for this time of cultural learning, especially as I leave for my first trip into western Uganda on Tuesday. You probably won’t here from me much next week for that reason. I’ll be gone from Tuesday to Saturday. BUT I’ll write in my journal and catch you all up once we return!

Next week I’ll also be teaching for the first time. I haven’t heard what section of the training I’ll be covering, but it’s going to be awesome! This morning I have some time to read and catch up on the training book Tim sent me. My expectations about reading on the international flight were quickly adjusted because my seat mates slept the entire time…and the reading light was over their heads! Lol.

Anyway, I’m so excited to finally be here. Things are revving up, and my prayer is to be faithful to serve as I’m needed. I’m going to get off for now…talk soon!

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus! I loved my cookie cake from my party. Probably the coolest one I’ve ever seen or had! And behind me is the Ugandan flag.

I made it to Uganda!

Hi Friends!

I made it to Uganda safe and sound. This was my first international flight (15.5 hours) followed by another 5 hour connecting flight into Entebbe.

Things went smoothly as I disembarked, got my visa, and baggage.Now the fun of adjusting to the culture, routine, etc begins!

I spent today allowing my body, mind, and spirit to catch back up to each other. LOL! My flight was wonderful, but fifteen hours is still a long time to be on a plane. And I was so excited and jittery that I slept in spurts.

As I write this post, I’m sitting on the bed covered with a mosquito net (a must!) as the fan circulates a nice, cool breeze onto me. The windows are open and I can hear all the noises of the neighborhood.

It’s about 10pm and I’m getting ready for my first sleep in Uganda. My mind and heart are afire with all of the possibilities. Thank you so much for all the prayers, financial support, and love that find me sitting here today.

Know that we are on this adventure together. Let’s see what kind of fun we can have!

Love,
Audra

Beautiful clouds captured on one of my flights…can’t remember which one!

Uganda Bound

Has it really been 5 years since I’ve published a blog post?!? My silence was much longer than I thought….

But I’ve grown so much in the interim, and now I find myself heading to Uganda (and then to Kenya) for my first stent overseas as a missionary.

I’m sitting in a restaurant, waiting on my next flight, as a waitress wipes tables all around me. My day’s been filled with many firsts and lasts. I almost cried as I packed up my belongings from the room I shared with my sister the last six months.

Has it been six months? Life’s changed so much. I’ve lost my mom and my granddad and travelled to Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, and Arizona. I’ve stood at the Grand Canyon and been humbled by my place in the world.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me during this past year. As I’ve grieved and as I’ve prepared for where I’m headed. The last few weeks it’s like I’ve been flying around, hovering above my environment at our God and how He uses you and I to do His work in the earth.

Saying yes to what’s been inside my heart was the best thing that I’ve ever done. Everything within me stands at attention as it surveys my past and how it’s led to this point. God is good.

I will be posting updates on my blog as I live and minister in Uganda. More to come in the next few days. I have a lot to share.

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.

Powerful Prayer

Can you please pray for me?

My answer is always, “Of course! What do you need prayer for?” And then I pray for that person right there. 

I don’t wait until later (though I do pray on my own later) because there’s something powerful about praying together. 

Read through the Book of Acts. 

You’ll quickly notice that mighty things happened when the Church prayed together. 

Jesus told us that He’ll do anything we ask in His name. 

Jesus told us that praying in faith can move any mountain, any obstacle. 

Jesus taught us how to pray and Paul laced his letters with prayers. 

Talking with God is vital to our Christian walk. (We’ve talked many times about prayer.)

The Boiler Room taught on prayer tonight. 

Following the teaching we prayed for our church community, for the necessary transitions to better serve the poor. 

I walked away reminded that “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” is not possible without prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. 

Kudos to Mother Teresa

I was 7 years old when Mother Teresa died, yet her life is one that has inspired generations. 

She embodied the gospel. 

Loving others like Christ loves them, especially the poor, was something she took literally. 

In fact, the work she started all those years ago is still going on!

I don’t want to be Mother Teresa (because that’s kind of silly don’t you think? To not be yourself–the person God created.)

But I want to take the gospel literally like she did. 

I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and dying world. 

I want to see myself as serving Jesus Himself when I help the poor, the sick, the widow, and the orphan (check out Matthew 25).

Mother Teresa’s example is the epitome of selflessness. 

The coolest thing to me is that she never set out to be famous or to be known world wide as a leader of Christian charity. 

She just started following Jesus. 

And others thought she was doing such a great job they wanted to help her out. 

Mother Teresa’s ideas spread because they weren’t her ideas–they were Jesus’ ideas! 

She decided to take the Bible literally and it changed the world. 

Confessions of an Easily Excitable Person

The idea of “So the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) is completely wrecking my thinking.  

As I read back through yesterday’s post, I realized that I need to apologize.

My goal was not to be a cynic but to draw some attention to the fact that Christians are called, compelled, motivated–and all the other synonyms–by the love of Christ to share the gospel. 

Let’s take this a step further: If Christians are to be like Jesus, that means John 1:14 is talking about us. When my friend Pastor Gwen preached on the subject (I blogged about that a few weeks ago) her words reminded me of the restlessness in my heart.

My faith needs action because it’s actually a bit ADD when it comes to just sitting still.

Once again, this is all I’m talking about these days (Lord, please let me still have a few friends who read my posts!)

Before I came to Rhema, I was already antsy when I read the Word and saw these truths. Then I came to Rhema.

Most days I feel like a volcano that is dangerously close to blowing up.

KA-BOOM!!!!!

How can you sit under Bible teaching 3 hours a day and not get fired up? Lord, please…I need some Ritalin–better yet I need to start serving!

So I have found several places to serve both within Rhema Bible Church and within another organization. 

The reason for my apology is because I am a bit of a zealot when excited. It’s just the extrovert in me, I guess, but this is me:

Ms. Excited-About-What’s-Happening-You-Should-Be-Too.

I will try to be less of a nut, okay?

Please know, though, that my heart is not to be a cynic. If you feel like I am being too critical, please let me know.