Archive for July, 2012


We spent our first week in Nicaragua this trip ministering in a small church named Iglesia 5th Libertad Bautista, which is the fifth mission of a church the Kennedy’s have ministered in repeatedly since 2005 – Iglesia Libertad Bautista. The church was a small facility with a worship room and an apartment room, too small for the school. So we held the registration at the church and the English school in a school facility “down the block.” Children's Program

At the church each morning we crammed between 130-175 children into the worship center for the children’s program. They were so excited to see the puppets and to learn some English that they literally sat in each other’s laps.

We had about 187 teens and adults registered for English classes. Out of that group there were 61 “yes” decisions made by the end of the week. That means they in some way made a commitment to Christ. We assess that information with a survey they fill out on the last day about their experience during the school.

The question is sometimes asked whether these students really know what they’re doing when they write “yes” in response to the question, “Did you make a commitment to Jesus Christ during this week.” We believe that they do understand the implications of this question because so many of them answer “no” to the question, indicating that they do not choose to make a decision at this time, or that they are already Christians. It’s impossible to know for sure what the nature of a yes response is, but that’s why Jody Kennedy only works with churches that are committed to the follow-up process. We are confident that all these students with receive personal follow-up visits from the congregation of this small church. It’s not unusual for several of these students to become a part of the church where the school is held after we leave Nicaragua.

As a point of reference, let me tell you about one of the “no’s.” His name was Frank and he was in my class. I could tell by Wednesday that God was dealing with him. He was in my upper level class, so our discussions had more meat in them than some of the lower levels of English that are learning English basics. In these upper classes we engage them in thoughtful discussion exercises that encourage them to practice using their English to express increasingly more difficult ideas.

During some of the discussions, it was quite evident that Frank was struggling with some spiritual issues as he shared particularly about his family and his future plans. He and I spoke after class several times, and I encouraged him to find his peace in God, since he claimed to already be a believer, and I told him I was praying for him by name. He indicated repeatedly that he was struggling with the world in his walk. It was obvious that he was under conviction. He made a special point after our final meeting to come up to me and tell me that he had recommitted his life to Christ that morning in his church, and then to introduce me to his mother, who asked me to continue encouraging him in Christ. I have asked him to email me so I can keep up with him.

So that’s what our week was like. Good to be here. We are in-between this week doing various things, like a 2 night marriage conference, and refurbishing supplies for next week’s ministry, then another English school next week. Think and pray about joining us next trip. You can get the schedule of trips at jodykennedyinternational.com.

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Back in Nicaragua

We arrived back in the U.S. Sunday evening July 8,  and had a brief time home. Then we left again the next Saturday, July 14, for Nicaragua. We are here for in Managua for several weeks.

We have just completed the first week yesterday and are settled this week at the missionary’s local residence doing support type things. Also this week we will share in a couple of one or two night ministry opportunities – a marriage conference at the church we stayed at last week – Canaan Baptist Church – for one. Next week we will stay at a camp and do an English school at a very small church with a family ministry team from a church in Ft. Worth.

Unfortunately, internet has been very spotty up till now, so we have been out of contact. It is good here at the missionary’s home (Jody and Trisha Kennedy), but I’m not sure about next week. I will not continue the blogs about the Italy trip until I return and have a stable internet to rely on.

That’s where we are for now. More later.

The Spine of Napoli

The first picture here was taken from the top of the Fortress of St. Elmo looking down on the city. Notice the crevice running across the city. This is a single street that runs through the ancient part of Napoli, through piazzas, past shops that have been there in some form for over 500 years and maybe longer. This street, and I don’t unfortunately have the name of it, is called the Spine of Napoli for 0bvious reasons when viewed from above.

The Spine of Napoli from above

Charlie took us down into the city toward the end of the trip to see the real heart of the city. I was able to snap this second picture from the street looking back up through the crack between the roofs of the buildings. Notice St. Elmo, seated way up there, the exact spot from which I took the first picture looking down.

This spot was just on the edge of the Piazza di Nuevo Gesu (spelling much in question) or the New Jesus Piazza. This piazza is so called because there is an old cathedral here from the original piazza and a new church next to it that came to be known as the New Jesus Church. A wealthy nobleman built his house on the edge of the piazza near the original church. In those days the piazza had a straight unobstructed view down to the bay of Napoli and the Mediterranean Sea. As the years went by though, more and more construction was added, until today when you can see how this street is literally hemmed in on all sides by three to six story apartment buildings.

The Spine of Napoli from below

 

The wealthy family eventually sold their house to the Jesuits, and a new church was built in the renovated house. We walked through this New Jesus Church, and it is incredibly opulent with imported marble everywhere and gilded statues on all sides (yes, that’s real gold!). So the piazza came to be known as the New Jesus Piazza, referring to the new church built next to the old one.

Interestingly, the piazza itself is dedicated with a huge ornate obelisk that has a statue of the Madonna at the top, to the – now pay attention hereImmaculate Conception of Mary. To be clear here, this is the belief that if Jesus lived a sinless life, Mary must have lived one too, and therefore she must have had an immaculate conception also.

The festival is called The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is celebrated every year on the eighth of December. The celebration refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception asserts that, ” from the first moment of her conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary was, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of Mankind, kept free from all stain of original sin.” (http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/MaurImmac.html)

Though this festival originated in the East, it was introduced to Western Europe through Napoli around 800 A.D. As in so much of what we observed in Napoli, and Charlie indicated this is prevalent throughout Italy, Mary is normally placed above Jesus in their pantheon of saints or in their version of the godhead, and certainly in their practical order of prayer.

Apparently, at the annual festival in this piazza, the bishop of Napoli places a fresh wreath on Mary’s head. However, this statue is very high up on top of the obelisk. So what happens is that the local fire engine with its extension ladder is enlisted, and the bishop in all his finery rides up the extension ladder into the sky to the top of the statue and places the wreath on Mary’s head, then rides the ladder back down. It’s apparently a real sight to see.