Serving together began early for one young family, Wayne Kendrick, his wife Donna, and their sons, Dale and Kent.
It all started with a simple conversation that left an impression on Wayne. In the mid-1970s, Wayne and Donna moved their family to Hueytown and began visiting churches.
“Donna was a fairly new believer when we got married. I was coaching and teaching, we had two young boys, and we were new to the area. One day, I happened to see one of the men we’d met at a church service out mowing his lawn. I stopped by to tell him we’d really enjoyed services on Sunday, and we planned to come back. He immediately said to me, ‘Well, whether you go to our church or somewhere else, you need to go to a Bible-believing church, and you need to get those boys in church.’ So we did.”
Over the next few years, Wayne began leading his family on week-long mission trips, from serving as a volunteer athletic trainer for a national camp for Christian athletes (FCA), to Backyard Bible Clubs in a campground in Georgia, to hanging sheetrock for an entire week for a church building in Illinois.
“Every year,” Dale says, “we looked forward to where we were going to serve next. We went from kids playing at the camps, to teenagers who got to be part of a team of men and help build. We’d carry roofing shingles and assist with construction – still being our usual goofy selves, but owning our opportunity to serve.”
Dale and Kent grew up serving alongside their dad, watching him model the humility of a servant that he learned from his own dad.
“My dad was a carpenter, a home builder,” Wayne remembers. “After he retired, he would go with the boys and me, with other men from our church, to help build a church building in another state.” Three generations, traveling and serving together across multiple states all over the Southeast.
The summer after Dale graduated from high school, the family went with their church’s youth group to host Backyard Bible Clubs in urban Boston. There, Dale and Kent took on leadership roles, and Wayne had the opportunity to see the servant’s hearts he and Donna had asked God to develop in their sons.
Dale reflects on what really impacted him as they continued to travel and serve each year. “I think Kent and I saw something at a very young age, as we were following mom and dad and the other adults around on those early mission trips, we recognized that missions was reachable. It’s not always superheroes. It’s moms, dads, and grandparents going and loving people, and showing Christ to people who need a clearer picture of him or who never actually understood who He is.”
“And even at that stage, I particularly remember seeing this in my brother, it was no longer ‘we’re going with,’ but ‘we’re going as.’”
Wayne responds, “It’s special to be on mission with your children. Really special. They get to see you work, but you get to interact with them in different contexts. People are different in different walks of life, but they have the same need for a Savior, the same need that all of us do. They may not speak ‘southern-ese,’ but we come together under the church to serve.”
Once, while serving together in Venezuela, Wayne, Dale, and their team worked in an area next to the city dump. There, they saw a whole village built around the dump and children digging through the garbage. They were struck by the devastating poverty they saw there. It was a moment that stays with them even today and is reflected on their faces as they struggle to describe what they saw.
“It was so difficult to process and work through, but it meant a lot to have my dad there.” Dale adds, “I think there’s an element of fearlessness, a quiet confidence, that comes from the feeling of, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, but my dad’s here, so I know we’ll figure this out.’”
A few years ago, Wayne and Donna went with Dale and his wife, Courtney, and their two children, to prayer walk in Arundo neighborhoods and shopping centers in metro-Minneapolis. Dale says, “Watching our son and daughter playing on a playground with kids from an unreached people group was surreal. It brought back a lot of memories of my brother and me playing together on mission trips at their age. I’m thankful for the legacy of a mission mindset that we’re now getting to see our kids begin to own for themselves.”
Last year, God gave this father and son team the opportunity to serve together as Elders at Brook Hills. “No way to describe how proud I am to be his son,” Dale says. “My brother says the same thing.”
Dale describes how they never doubted their father’s love for them – it’s a love they now see as a reflection of the love their heavenly Father has for them. From the time his sons were toddlers, Wayne would tell both of his boys goodnight with the phrase, “I love you. I’m proud to be your dad, and I’m proud that you’re my boys – not because of what you do, but because of who you are.”
Wayne and Donna Kendrick have been members of Brook Hills since 1999. Dale and Courtney, and their children, Thomas (10) and Cora (8), have been members since 1993. Wayne and Dale both serve as Elders in our faith family, and their families continue to be active in local and global missions at Brook Hills.