MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–When Andy and Cindy Kennedy fly to Brazil in October, it’ll be only the first of many more airplane trips.
The Alabama natives joined 18 others Jan. 20 at Cottage Hill Baptist Church, Mobile, Ala., for their appointment to missionary service with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
After a year of language study, the Kennedys will move to Maraba, a city in northern Brazil near the equator.
“Our jobs there will include using an airplane to travel and work with the Brazilian Baptists to assist them in planning and growing churches to reach people for Christ,” Andy Kennedy said.
“In 1985 I was serving my country in a job I loved, flying attack helicopters and commanding an Army aviation unit,” he said. “God called me away from that career to complete seminary and pastor a congregation of his people. Now, he is calling me to use skills developed in both of these careers to serve as a pilot and evangelist in equatorial Brazil.”
Kennedy is serving as pastor of Lake Dallas (Texas) Baptist Church. Both Kennedys are graduates of Mobile’s University of South Alabama and of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Their 2-year-old daughter, Bethany, is excited about their move to Brazil and learning Portuguese, which she pronounces, “pork’n’cheese,” Cindy Kennedy said.
“My initial responsibility will be with Bethany,” she said. “My ministry opportunities will be whatever doors Bethany opens up, but also to use my gifts to work with children and youth. I’ve worked with teenagers for several years now, and I have a real burden and love for them.”
She noted 50 percent of the population of Brazil is under the age of 20, so there will be ample opportunity for her to work with young people.
In his charge to the new appointees, IMB President Jerry Rankin noted the new missionaries were entering service in an era of unprecedented response to the gospel.
“It seems that the whole world is going after Jesus,” Rankin said. “More has happened to fulfill the Great Commission in the last eight years than in the whole history of the Christian movement.”
Rankin reported the number of Baptist churches on missions fields has grown from 17,000 to more than 41,000 in 10 years and noted the number of born-again believers is growing three times faster than the world population.
“God has called you out at a time of unprecedented harvest around the world,” Rankin told the new missionaries. “God called you because there is a lost multitude saying, ‘We would see Jesus,’ and they are waiting for someone to come tell them. Their only chance is to see Jesus in your life.”
Wade is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist.