During more than 40 years with Cru, Doug and Janice Kennedy have lived in four countries. Their first home was Swaziland (now Eswatini). With work assignments taking them to southern Africa last November, the Kennedys decided to visit Eswatini again after their 24-year absence.
Doug got back in touch with Ambrose and Phil, the two most faithful disciples he had while working with students at the University of Swaziland in the early ‘90s. He made arrangements to have meals with them while he and Janice were in Eswatini.
Two days before their trip, Janice forwarded Doug an email update she had just received from the U.S. State Department. “This looks like our Ambrose,” she said. “Is he the new prime minister?” Doug checked and found that Ambrose had, indeed, been appointed as Prime Minister by the king of Eswatini.
Despite an intense first week as Prime Minister, Ambrose and his wife Portia kept their appointment with Doug and Janice. Doug relates, “His Excellency, as he is now called, told us about his first public address earlier that day. It was a semi-annual service the king hosts at the National Church.
“Ambrose began his address by stating, ‘There are three important dates in a person’s life: first, the day you are born; second, the day you die; and you have no choice about those. The third one you do have a choice about. That is the day you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. For me that was in 1984…’ He briefly described that decision and then went on with his address. He told us he decided to be public about his faith right from the start.”
When Ambrose studied in the U.S. after his graduation, the Kennedys visited him during one of their furloughs in the ‘90s. Ambrose showed Doug and Janice some photos of that visit together, explaining how much it meant that they had traveled with their children to see him.
Phil, Doug’s other key disciple in Eswatini, is now the CEO of a company. He leads a government commission and reports directly to the king. He also has walked closely with Christ over the years, even completing the necessary studies to become ordained as a minister in his denomination. He and his wife Jabue had been married 25 years the weekend the Kennedys were visiting and invited them to a small celebration over dinner, along with Ambrose and Portia.
After their visit, Doug commented, “Janice and I fairly floated through the whole time in Eswatini. It all felt so surreal! We kept asking, ‘God, how is it that You allowed us to have a small part in the lives of these men, who now have such an opportunity to influence a whole nation for You?’ To see the fruits of ministry so many years ago was such a gift from Him!” God is still answering prayer, using faithful people who build into the lives of faithful people, helping to change the world.