It was the year after high school. Garth really liked Fiona. There was a "problem" though. During their courtship, God called Garth into full time missions. So with great trepidation, he sat down to write Fiona a letter. At the time she was in Thailand as an exchange student. So, he wrote this monumental letter, confessing his missionary calling and wondering how it would impact this relationship he cherished so dearly. Little did he know, Fiona, sitting in Thailand, was doing the exact same thing! Their letters crossed paths mid-air and a great sigh of joyful relief was expressed on the two continents - Africa and Asia!
Brought together by divine scripting, Garth and Fiona, along with their two children, have been in Benin, West Africa for the past six years. We caught up with them recently and asked them a few questions.
What are some of the highlights of the past six years?
One event stands out above all others: the beginning of the broadcasts. When Garth and Fiona arrived, they started with nothing. So to see the medium wave transmitter turned on, and to hear those first few words being broadcast into an area with more than 190 million people, was something very special. Fiona says, "We'd been through so much, there had been a whole lot of obstacles along the way, some of them totally unexpected, yet God is so faithful and got us to that point!"
Is it safe to say that the fact that it happened was a miracle?
Garth responds emphatically, "There's no doubt about that! There's no doubt about that!"
What does a typical day look like in Benin for TWR missionaries?
Garth is up and ready to leave for work at 7am. He's usually the first guy on site, which is 25km from home. Once the whole team arrives, the day begins with an upward focus - a time of prayer and devotion. Then, a site inspection takes place, to make sure everything is okay on the property. After that it's into the paperwork and emails (sound familiar)? The rest of the day is spent on maintenance and projects. Finally, much to the delight of Fiona and the kids, he's home at 6pm.
In the morning, Fiona and the kids get up with Garth, though he jokes, "What about all the snoring I hear when I drive out the driveway?" Daniel goes off to school with Fiona, and Timothy joins them at ten o clock. After school, they eat lunch together and then: some swimming, visiting people, shopping, cooking, and preparing for the next day of teaching depending on what's on the go.
What do you guys do for fun?
The dam, built by the team in Benin, is the Kennedy's oasis of fun. The family spends much special time there camping, fishing, swimming, playing football and cricket, and socialising with friends. It is also an oasis of hope. In the dry season, it has been a source of water and food (fish) for the community. The effort that went into building the dam has definitely paid off in the returns to the family, their friends and their community.
What's the most difficult aspect of being missionaries in Benin?
From sticking out like sore thumbs, to enduring sweltering temperatures, to serious illness without medical care, to a culture which is hard to understand, the Kennedy's endure much to be on mission for God in Benin.
Considering all this, why are you doing this?
It's quite simple, Fiona says, "Because we just feel that this is where God has called us." It all comes down to obedience to the call of God.
How can you pray for the Kennedy's?
Pray for them as a family. Pray for suitable staff to join the team. Pray for the short wave license. Pray for the missionary housing project. Please commit their entire ministry to the Lord.
Published: 21 May 2011