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June 2005
Dear Friends in Christ,
Our last several newsletters have not been a Mexico update as much as they have been a Kennedy family update. Since October our family has been completely dedicated to Shelby’s care, which was a full time job we wish we were still doing. We were feeling torn as to what this newsletter should contain when Liz Sweet called and commented that she thought the whole newsletter should be about Shelby. That call confirmed the desire of our heart. Although we could never fit Shelby’s active life into one small newsletter, with Liz’s encouragement, we’ve decided to dedicate it to testimonies of her life, and ministry in Mexico, Haiti, and to family and friends. As our family grieves the loss of Shelby, we cannot help but remember, and want to share her life and love of Christ with everyone!
The following was written by Liz Sweet
Just as Psalm 19:1 proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” -Nava, Coahuila, Mexico, declares the glory of God through the handiwork of Shelby Kay Kennedy. Her memory burns brightly in the hearts of the Mexican people, and her influence will forever impact the lives of those she touched.
Throughout this past year of Shelby’s sickness, the Mexican people stood in faith with the Kennedy family. Though they were separated by many miles, their love and devotion were demonstrated by their fervent prayers and fasting. Every Sunday night they were on their faces before God, crying out for Shelby’s health. Every Tuesday, men from the Juan 3:16 Church went to the Rancho de Fe (“Ranch of Faith”) to pray for the whole Kennedy family. Regularly, families stopped by our home to get the e-mail updates. They wrote her letters. They made and sent her cards. People on the streets, people in the stores, people in the pharmacy, people in the government, people in business —no matter if they were rich or poor —needed to know the latest news about Shelby.
After Pastor Santos was notified of Shelby’s death, he spread the word from house to house throughout the colonias. Family after family filed to the church, and prayers were offered up to God for 4 continuous hours. They comforted each other, hugged, and cried. That Wednesday night the Juan 3:16 Church was packed. One observer noted that almost every family that had been blessed through Only a Servant Ministries with a beautiful home along with many other people, were there to honor Shelby and to testify how they had been touched by her life. What a legacy she has left in Nava, Mexico!
Even though the hearts of the Mexican people ache because of their great loss, Shelby still lives within them. They remember her every time they see the colors of the rainbow in every house she helped paint. They remember her captivating smile, her boundless energy, her unselfish giving, and her dedicated labor. Most importantly however, they remember her love for her family and her love for her God. Yes, Nava and her people declare the glory of God through the handiwork of our beloved Shelby Kay Kennedy. She lives forever in our hearts and with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. ~Liz Sweet
Shelby also left a legacy of love and servant hood in Haiti for people to remember her by. The mountains of Haiti will forever be singing Shelby’s name, as she was well known by many there. Shelby had a strong love for Haiti and it’s people from the time she took her first trip there at the age of ten. Besides living there with our family for approximately two years, she visited the country many times sharing her love for Christ all throughout the mountains. The Haitians were always amazed by her language skills as she had conquered not only the language but also had a perfect accent. In the past five years Shelby started a ministry in Haiti through O.S.M. to sponsor two schools, providing Christian education and one hearty meal a day for children of families that cannot afford other schools.
Shelby had many friends who loved her dearly, she was a testimony to all she was around. Shelby cared about relationships and spending time with the people she loved. Each November she held a “gingerbread camp” inviting several children to come and bake and build gingerbread houses, cook dinner over an open fire, sing campfire songs and spend the night in tents by the river.
Our family will miss Shelby immensely. Looking back over our 23 years with her, we can only thank the Lord for giving us the privilege of having her as a daughter. When we were praying for a child we asked the Lord for one who would serve Him with their life. He answered our prayer fully and more.
We know that her witness for Jesus is not a reflection of us as her parents, but a reflection of her intimate one-on-one relationship with her Heavenly Father.
Often as our children were growing up we told them that we hoped they would far surpass us spiritually. Praise the Lord, Shelby did just that. We will greatly miss her love, wisdom, selfless-servant spirit, and her contentment in what the Lord brought in her life.
Shelby has left no small hole in our hearts, more like the Grand Canyon. We are now challenged to try to live up to the standard, which she quietly and lovingly walked out in our home. As Doug Phillips said at her memorial service, she pulled more out of 23 years of life than many people do in 80-90 years of life. She would want us to move forward in our walk with Christ, just as she has. She is in the presence of the Lord, glorifying Him, which is the very purpose for which she was created. Shelby just got there earlier than we had thought.
We are very grateful for the outpouring of the love of Christ. You have continually prayed with and for us...we appreciate each of you!!
Because of Christ,
The Kennedy Family