Penelope has been discipling Kendra for over 3 years now. It’s been a long journey with its fair share of setbacks and incredible victories, including Kendra making the decision to be baptized. This is the story of how God worked miraculously in Kendra’s life through her relationship with Penelope, and here is Penelope to share it!
I’m so excited to share this story with you all! Many of you in the CDM community know this story or parts of the story and have been praying for this for years.
Kendra is a neighbor of mine who has become a very dear friend of my family. It was about three-and-a-half years ago that I actually began to have spiritual conversations with Kendra. Prior to that, I had met her at the Bunco nights that the ladies in my neighborhood would occasionally put on. There was a group of women from Bunco that I soon began a Discovery Group with, but Kendra wasn’t a part of it. At that time, she wasn’t particularly interested in getting into spiritual conversations.
Eventually, Kendra and I became better friends. My husband and I put on a Christmas neighborhood DBS that we were testing out as an experiment. We played the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, had some goodies and invited neighbors over to celebrate Christmas, have dessert and go through the Christmas DBS story.
Kendra and her family came to that and that was the first time she ever experienced the Bible with me. After that, she was very interested and excited about it, and her husband Dan even said he thought it was cool. However, nothing ever came of it and they didn’t show any further interest in being part of a Discovery Bible Study.
And that’s how things stayed for a while.
An Unexpected Call on Easter Led to Deeper Relationship
Months later, on Easter, we got a call from Dan informing us that Kendra was in rehab for alcoholism, and he didn’t know how to make an Easter basket for his daughter. That was something Kendra would always do. Dan felt overwhelmed about not being able to make Easter special for his daughter now that Kendra was going to be gone in rehab for a while. So, my kids put an Easter basket together and we delivered it to Dan and his daughter and included them in our own Easter festivities.
Now, Kendra was allowed to call one person at certain intervals during her time in rehab, and she chose to call me. I would spend our calls encouraging her and telling her that we should spend regular time together once she got out of rehab, which she felt was a great idea and something that she needed to do anyway as part of her recovery.
Once Kendra got out, we started meeting weekly to go on walks around our neighborhood together. As we walked I would ask her things like, “How can I be a good friend to you? How can I help you through this process?”
She had been through two other recovery programs in the past, and both times any progress she’d made was soon lost. This was her third time.
She told me that what she needed was a friend, the walks we were taking and the opportunity to share her struggles. I committed right then and there to doing these things and being there for her in whatever ways she needed my help.
Spiritual Conversations Led to a DBS
On our walks we would have these meaningful conversations about addiction, how the brain works and all these other things she was learning in her recovery program — a lot of which I didn’t know. As she shared certain things, I would share stories from the Bible that spoke into those issues, as well as stories of how God helped me through things that I’ve struggled with.
After a while, Kendra said that she wanted to learn more about the Bible and go on a spiritual journey with me. I told her that would be great and that she should see if Dan would like to do this with her as well. He didn’t. So, Kendra and I decided we would just have our Discovery Bible Study be a one-on-one.
We would meet at Kendra’s pool, I would bring my kids over and they would swim with her daughter while she and I sat in the pool on the Baja deck with our drinks and our Bibles.
As we went through the Creation to Christ Scripture List together, Kendra’s life began to transform. God set her free from her addiction to alcohol and she is now two years clean from it! She has changed how she relates to her husband. She’s being a wife who honors the Lord even in the midst of a difficult marriage, she is raising her daughter to know Jesus, and she’s been reaching out to her neighbors and others who struggle with alcoholism and sharing the Bible stories with them!
During one of our DBS meetings, while we were reading the resurrection story, Dan walked out to where we were and told us he‘d just gotten back from the doctor’s office and learned he had cancer. Kendra immediately got up and gave him a hug, and Dan asked if he could join us for the rest of our study time. I thought, “Wow! God is really working here.” So we continued the story with Dan and prayed for him.
Dan ended up being cured of cancer! However, he did not give glory to God for it and is still lost, so continue to pray for him.
A Serious Obstacle Held Kendra Back
A year ago, Kendra made the decision that she wanted to be baptized. We were planning out when, where and with whom we would do this when she shared with me what she’d been learning from Oprah and Deepak Chopra — very New Age stuff. Kendra had been raised Catholic, but began seeking truth and seeking God in the New Age religion, Buddhism and transcendental meditation, which are all very popular here in Southern California.
As we read the Bible together and the Lord worked in Kendra’s heart, she made a lot of worldview changes. However, one thing that I soon saw was an obstacle for her was the idea that Jesus is the only way to salvation and that everyone who does not follow Jesus is going to hell.
Kendra would say, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior, and He is the only way for me,” but she believed that her friends and family had other ways and that all the ways eventually ended up in the same place — heaven.
I brought this up to my DMC and we agreed that Kendra wasn’t ready to be baptized yet. We needed the Holy Spirit to overcome this obstacle first. So, as a DMC, we brainstormed what Scriptures I could point her to that would address this error and we eventually settled on a list of passages that I could take her through during our DBS times.
From that point on I took her through one of those Scriptures each time we met and I prayed that the Lord would open her eyes to see that Jesus really is the only way, not simply a way.
As Kendra and I read these stories together, she would say, “I know that the Bible says that Jesus is the only way, but I don’t like that.” It was an emotional barrier for her. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe that the Bible said it, it was that she didn’t like that her family and friends were going to hell, even though she knew that’s what the Bible said. We spent the next eight meetings stuck in that place.
Prayer and Fasting Brought Breakthrough
Meanwhile my DMC and I were praying, we were fasting, and I was asking for prayer on the CDM Prayer Page. We were pleading with the Lord to open Kendra’s eyes and cause her to believe that Jesus is the only way.
We got to the ninth meeting and read another scripture that said all the same things we’d been reading. I think it was Isaiah 45. We were going through the Discovery questions when Kendra looked at me and slammed her hand on the table.
“It is so clear,” she said. “It’s so clear! I totally understand it now. Everywhere in the Bible it says there is only one way and that anybody who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God is going to hell.”
Of course I was excited by this realization, but I wasn’t going to take her for her word. I decided to prod deeper. “So, do you believe that?” I asked.
“I believe it.” She said.
I pressed further. “What does that mean for your friends and family who don’t believe that?”
“It means they’re going to hell.” She leaned in eyes wide.
“Do you believe that?”
“Yes, I do,” she said. Then added, “And I don’t like that. But that’s why we share the stories — so they can know the truth!”
From that point on, she started getting more connected with the other ladies I was discipling and, whenever we would read a story together that addressed that issue, of Jesus being the only way, she would turn to all of them and say with pure conviction, “He’s the only way. There’s no other way. Every other way only leads to destruction and hell.”
This truth has moved from her head, to her heart, to her hands, and now to her mouth. She’s preaching it now!
We knew that she knew this and so it was time for her to be baptized.
Kendra Publicly Shared Her Faith and Was Baptized
My family and I gathered at Kendra’s pool with her; Dan, who is still not a believer; her daughter, the other women who I took through the DBS process, their husbands and children, and even someone from our DMC.
In front of all these people, many of them from Catholic backgrounds, Kendra shared her testimony. She shared about how she grew up Catholic and did all the things that she believed would make her a good Catholic, went to Catholic school and Catholic college, but she never read the Bible for herself. And it wasn’t until this Discovery Bible Study that she began reading the Bible and saw God release her from some “hard things,” referring to her addiction.
She boldly shared all of this while the women and their husbands listened, a couple folks took video and the kids all sat on the ledge of the pool. When she finished, I dunked her in the pool and that backyard roared to life with cheering and clapping as she came back up.
Even Dan came up afterwards and said that it was amazing. He turned to one of the other husbands who also isn’t a believer, and said half-joking, “Maybe we should get baptized too. Although we’d probably get struck by lightning if we did that!”
So, wheels are turning, hearts are softening, and discussions are happening because people got to see the transformation that God has done in Kendra’s life. We’re trusting the Lord that everyone who was at that baptism will soon be following Jesus and making disciples.
It’s taking a long time, but we believe God is willing and able to do this, so we’re waiting with eager expectation. Praise the Lord for His goodness! And thank you for letting me share.