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‘As long as you have breath in your body’

Dorm mother and student Wanda Kennedy proves that Bible-based education isn’t bound by age

Wanda Kennedy is a mother many times over. 

The 46-year-old Christian assists in the spiritual formation of no fewer than 50 young women in her role as dormitory mother at Southwestern Christian College. The historically black college in Terrell, Texas, is associated with Churches of Christ. 

Kennedy understands what it’s like to be a college student. After all, she is one. 

A graduate of medical assistant school, she recently chose to continue her education. In 2014 she earned an associate’s degree from Southwestern and was valedictorian of her class. 

Now, while the students she serves hit the books, so does she. Kennedy is pursuing a bachelor’s in biblical studies and serves as member and past president of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges. She is also a member of Circle K International.

A member of the Lawrence and Marder (L and M) Church of Christ in Dallas, Kennedy is involved with her congregation’s evangelistic team and door-knocking campaigns. She visits the homeless who live under bridges and the sick who live in nursing homes. She leads a Bible class that meets across phone lines via conference call. 

The daughter of Willie and Maxine Johnson, she has four children: Olando, Rolando, Tierra and Dwight; and three grandchildren: Demarcus, MaKenzie and Trayvon.
What attracted you to Southwestern Christian College? 
Mrs. Catherine Abouzar, an employee at Southwestern, encouraged me to attend the college. Getting me into school was one of her main goals.

Catherine believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Eventually, I took a job at the college because of crises in my personal life. I later began taking classes.
How has your spiritual life been affected at Southwestern?
The college has helped me develop a true relationship with God. I used to think I had a relationship with God, but I didn’t. 

I love the Bible! Now that I realize that the Bible is God’s Word, I love to study it. When I open the Bible, God has my complete attention.  There is a respect for God and his Word that I didn’t have before. 

The Word of God makes me be still — and tremble. It has guided me to become a better person. Now I understand when people stand up in respect when someone is reading the Bible. God is speaking to us. 

I’m always hungry for more knowledge of God and his Word.

I strive to treat people like God wants me to treat them. I no longer treat them the way they treat me, and I no longer determine how to treat them by how they treat me. This affects how I treat the young ladies I’m responsible for here at Southwestern. 
What makes Southwestern worthy of support? 
When I began working for Southwestern, I was thrilled. I had heard about all the great people, like Dr. Evans, Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Foster, and I thought, “I’m going to be on campus with all these great men!” 

I was excited to be working with people of the same Christian background I came from. I knew that my spiritual life was going to be greatly improved and that I would grow spiritually. And I knew that I would have a new Christian family.  

The young women I serve here have become my family. I have met great students from all over the country and gotten to know them as my own. Because of the relationships I have with these students, I would not change my life for anything. I believe that the students have impacted my life, and I have impacted their lives. 

Southwestern may be small, but because we are family oriented and have love among us, I believe that all students should have a chance to attend Southwestern. 

Southwestern should be supported by the whole brotherhood — white and black — because it impacts young people’s lives for Christ. 
How do you hope to fulfill your Christian mission in life?
As I study God’s Word, I realize why I’m here — to bring a crowd with me to heaven. I wish everyone could experience the relationship that I have found in God. It’s just amazing to me what God has done for me. I want to pass that on.

My goal is to get a master’s in counseling. I plan on taking what God has given me and what I’ve gotten through the Bible and use it to reach out to those who are seeking and searching for answers.  

I want to go to women’s prisons and teach them about the harbor we find in God and share with them the experiences I have had with God. 

It’s too good for me to hang on to that for myself. I have to share it with others. He saved me, but not just for me. He wants to use me for his mission to save many souls.
What would you like for people to know about your generation?
As long as you have breath in your body you are not too old to accomplish important goals, go to college and learn. 

My generation can teach the younger generation how important it is to reach for your goals, to believe in yourself and know your worth. 

Our generation should teach the young people how important it is to keep God in your life in all circumstances — not just when we mess up and come back to God on our hands and knees, starving like the prodigal son. We should teach them how to trust God completely with their lives. We may not know our destination, but God knows.

Filed under: Dialogue

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