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January 2012
Dear Friends in Christ,
This month marks the 14th anniversary of OSM. Not only that, but this year our family celebrates 20 years of full-time ministry! Our Father has been so gracious to sustain us through these years. We are humbled and blessed to be serving Him in Haiti and Mexico. It is a privilege we do not take lightly. There are many of you who have been right by our sides the entire way, while others have joined us at different points in this journey upholding us through prayers, support, aid, labor, and encouragement. Please praise the Lord with us as we reminisce over these past 20 years of serving Him together. We can’t begin to include all the details of His marvelous hand at work in this short letter, but here are some of the highlights.
It started when Debbi and I (Ken) took our first trips to Haiti in 1985. We both fell in love with the island and its beautiful inhabitants. At the time, in my mind, a missionary was someone who preached, taught, or translated scriptures. I knew I wasn’t gifted in any of those areas, so I wasn’t sure how I could be used on the mission field. On my first trip, having mechanical experience, I was put to work on Pastor Larry Neese’s jeep. As I worked under the vehicle, I could hear him through an open window preaching the Word of God to Haitian Pastors. It was then that God began to show me something. Yes, this man was very gifted as a teacher, but he didn’t know a thing about mechanics. Without a working jeep, he was not able to travel and preach God’s Word. This is where I fit in, I didn’t know how to preach, but I was pretty handy under the hood! Suddenly, I realized that God WAS using me to facilitate this man’s ministry through the repair of his mode of transportation. The Lord used this trip to begin turning our hearts toward ministry. I took a few more trips to Haiti and was blessed to be a small part of the beginning of a ministry to Haiti called Harvest International, founded by Dr. John Leininger. In 1992, the Lord opened doors for me to work full time with Harvest’s Director Danny Thomas at the Ocala, Florida facility. Our family spent a lot of time working together in the warehouse loading containers with supplies to be sent to Haiti. We continued visiting Haiti frequently through Harvest International.
In 1995, after much prayer with family and Harvest leaders, our family of 14 moved to Haiti. We were very excited about this new adventure in our lives and how the Lord might use us. We originally planned to be there only 6 months, but that soon changed. We loved Haiti. The children learned to speak Creole very quickly and were adapting to the changes well. We ended up staying for 2 ½ years.
In September of 1997, because of a family crisis, we had to leave the country immediately. We had planned to return after the issues were resolved, but the Lord seemed to be closing the doors. We were confused and not sure what the Lord’s will was for our future mission work. Our dear friend, John Leininger, played a huge part in encouraging our family to stay in ministry after leaving Haiti. As we looked at other options, John continually called inviting us to come to Texas to visit Mexico with him. He had seen our family work together in ministry and strongly felt that we should continue on the mission field in some way. In December of 1997, we packed up our family once again and headed to Texas. The first trip we took into Mexico was a life changing experience. In January of 1998, we formed Only a Servant Ministries and began taking teams into Mexico and building homes for needy families living in the border towns.
In 1999, a group of doctors asked us to help them build a clinic in La Union, Coahuila, Mexico. The area was so remote, we had to haul all of our supplies across the Rio Grande with horses and carts! With a small team of workers, the clinic was completed and has helped host many medical teams to that area since. Praise the Lord.
We met Pastor Isidro and his wife Flory at the end of 1999 and began building homes in the Cities of The Five Springs area, 40 minutes into Mexico. In early 2000, Pastor Isidro approached us about building a church in Nava. He knew a wonderful Pastor named Santos who was in need of a building for their church. We prayed for God’s direction and He gave it by supplying the funding and work crews to complete the church. In May of 2000 the John 3:16 church was completed! We had no idea how much God had planned to do through this church. The Nava area became our main focus of ministry. Our goal was to host one team building one house each month. God blessed us above and beyond our dreams. After a few years we were hosting up to 2 teams a month and building 2 to 4 houses with each team. During each week in Mexico we also helped facilitate food distribution, showed the Jesus film, evangelized, and hosted vacation Bible schools and youth outreach. We are constantly humbled by how the Lord uses even the weakest vessels and are grateful for each opportunity He has sent our way. After nearly 100 homes, a clinic, a church, a sewing house, a carpenter shop and many other projects, we stand amazed not only at God’s goodness and faithfulness to us, but also for the blessing of each of you who God has used to love us and so faithfully carry us through.
Over the years our family has changed a lot. Many of our children have moved on and our visions have changed. Our current focus is to offer assistance to Pastors Isidro and Santos with the work they are doing in Mexico. Through the years our hearts have also stayed close to our friends in Haiti. We are sponsoring 2 schools full time again and continue visiting as often as possible.
Again, we praise the Lord for each of you who have been a vital part in sustaining us through these 20 years of ministry. Some of you minister through prayers, some by encouragement, and others with financial support. We are very grateful for the many ways in which you have remembered OSM through the years enabling us to minister to others!
Because of Christ,
The Kennedy Family