TESTIMONY OF LOIS KENNEY
I grew up in a Christian home, my father, Estes Kenney, being a pastor. At the age of six, I received Christ as my Savior during a 5-Day Bible Club. As a child and teenager, I met a lot of missionaries. Through their lives, the Lord challenged me to serve Him as a missionary. With this desire in my heart, I attended the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, graduating in 1977. Upon graduation, I was not sure of where the Lord wanted me to serve Him nor with which mission board. For about 9 months, I worked in a Christian book store in our neighbourhood, and waited on the Lord for His direction. At a missionary conference in our church, I met Dr. J.O. Percy, a representative of the Gospel Mission of South America. He asked me to pray about serving the Lord with this mission. I prayed about it, and so did he. Within three months, the Lord made it clear to me that I should follow in that direction. I counselled at the Christian Youth Training Camp near Gull Lake, Michigan for the summer. In September 1978, I left for South America for a short term program with the G.M.S.A. I was in Argentina for 3 ½ months, Uruguay for 2 weeks, and Chile for 7 months. While in Chile, I met and worked with Lois (we call her “Loida”, in Spanish) McAllister. We felt the Lord leading us to become co-workers and companions in the ministry in Chile.
I was accepted to the Gospel Mission of South America, as a full-time worker in August of 1979. I began deputation, and after one year and nine months, I only had falf of the support that I needed. I began to wonder if the Lord really wanted me to serve Him in Chile. I committed it to the Lord and prayed, “If You want me to go to Chile, please bring in the other half of my support by August so that I can begin language school.” That was only three months away. The Lord did a miracle and brought in the rest of my support by August 1981. During my two years of deputation, I also attended the Child Evangelism Leadership Training Institute in Warrington, Missouri for three moths.
I studied Spanish at the Rio Grande Missionary Language School for nine months. On July 15, 1982 I arrived in Santiago, Chile, my new “home”. I went to live with Lois McAllister. She had already been working in a suburb of Santiago called Tobalaba, for 1 ½ years with another missionary, Pauline English. I joined in the ministry of church planting with them immediately. I worked there for eight years. We saw many people come to know Christ and grow in Him, and a local church was formed. When we left, Tobalaba Bible Center Church had their own church building and national pastor. During our ministry in Tobalaba we also had a women’s Bible study and children’s Bible club in another area of Santiago called Ramon Cruz. Pauline English stayed in Ramon Cruz helping to form a church there. They have a church building and a national pastor now. Also, my last year in Tobalaba I taught Christian Education and Music at our Bible Institute in Santiago. In December of 1989, we went to the States for 8 months of “Home Minsitry”.
In October of 1990, we (Loida McAllister and I), began a new church planting project in Maipu, another suburb of Santiago, working together with the Micalvi Bible Center Church located on the other side of Santiago from us. We began with a children’s Bible club, adult Bible study, visitation, an evangelistic campaign, Daily Vacation Bible School, a women’s Bible study, and Youth Group. We also had a Bible Correspondence Course ministry, especially with new believers, to help get them grounded in the Word of God. As people came to know the Lord as Savior, regular Sunday services were started. I gave piano lessons to children, young people, and adults who desired to serve the Lord through music in the church. All of the meetings were held in our home for the first 7 ½ years. In April of 1998 we began meeting in the church building that we had built. In October of 1998, the Maipu Bible Center Church was officially recognized by the mission and our national church body of Chile to be a fully established church. In March of 1999, Loida McAllister and I terminated our ministry with the Maipu Bible Center Chruch. We went to the States for 7 months of “Home Ministry”.
In November 1999, Loida McAllister and I came to Argentina to form part of a new church planting team with Pastor Tom and Debbie Gibbons and their 4 children. We all came to live in the town of Chivilcoy on December 3rd . We began meetings right away in the home of the Gibbons family. At first it was just us missionaries who met on Sundays. We started a Bible Club for children which had a small attendance. We also had some evangelistic teas for women, and did a lot of visitation with our unsaved friends and neighbors. Little by little the Lord caused our group to grow, and in July of 2001, we were able to rent a small storefront building that seated about 35 to 40 people. Our Bible Club grew in number, as did our congregation. In February of 2003, we had our first baptisms in a park nearby. Three believers were baptized, all about 1 year old in the Lord. We started a bi-weekly ladies Bible study in April of 2003.
On April 3, 2003, we were able to purchase a large warehouse with the vision of one day making it into our church building. In April of 2004, a Teen class was added to our Sunday School, and we decided to stop the weekly Bible Club and try to integrate those children into our Sunday School program. In June, 2004, a temporary chapel was built within the warehouse and we moved all of our meetings there. We have an auditorium that seats about 60 people, an entrance hall, two Sunday School classrooms, a kitchen (also used as a Sunday School classroom), and a small bathroom. We also have a nice grassy back yard that can be used for volley ball, etc. In June of 2004, monthly youth meetings were started. In April 2008, our Pastor started a monthly Men’s Meeting. Also in 2008, we formed our church membership.
December 2008 through May 2009, we started the first phase of the permanent construction of our church building within the warehouse and back yard, taking away the old bathroom and two Sunday School classrooms. We have about 80% of this first part of the construction done which includes a new kitchen, two new bathrooms, and a multipurpose room. (The new kitchen and bultipurpose room will be used also for S.S. class rooms.)
This has been an overview of our church planting work in general. My specific responsibilities at present are: teaching teens in Sunday School; visitation of believers (discipleship classes) as well as seeking to visit and share the gospel with unbelievers; co-teaching the ladies Bible study; giving messages at sister churches when asked; visualizing choruses and Bible verses for Sunday School; playing the piano for all the services and give piano lessons to young people from our church; and keeping my supporting churches and individuals updated on the progress of the work, praise and prayer requests by monthly letters.