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Last Tuesday I awoke to the sad news from Pastor Conrad Mbewe that our longtime friend, Kennedy Sunkutu, had gone to be with the Lord. Kennedy was the pastor of Kafue Reformed Baptist Church in Kafue, the first city south of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. It is hard to believe that Pastor Sunkutu had served that church for 18 years already. Time passes so quickly.

Pastor Conrad and I briefly reminisced about the history of Kennedy’s relationship with Kabwata and HeartCry (I love the photo of Conrad and Kennedy below). Kafue was one of the first three church plants of Kabwata Baptist Church. Kennedy was one of the very first missionaries, if not the first, supported by HeartCry in Zambia. Kennedy and Kafue RBC also had the distinction of being the first church plant in Zambia to become financially autonomous and weaned from HeartCry support. Because of this, we often took other church-planters to visit Kafue, to show them that autonomy can be accomplished.

I had the privilege of preaching in Kennedy’s church during a visit to Zambia in 2008. We were able to reconnect during another visit in 2014. But perhaps my most significant visit with Kennedy was in July 2016. Earlier that year, Kennedy endured the trauma of a kidney transplant. Kennedy’s own wife, Gladys, was the donor and the procedure was performed in India. The Zambian Reformed Baptist churches and HeartCry partnered together to prolong the life of this faithful servant of the Lord.

During our 2016 visit, it was so good to see Kennedy up, moving around, and slowly recovering. However, if I understand correctly, it was medications for the transplant that eventually led to diabetes and the resulting infection that took his life. Please pray for his wife, Gladys, and their three children as they grieve their loss.

The broader Reformed Baptist family in Zambia has also suffered a great loss. In addition to being a faithful pastor, Kennedy was a widely respected leader in Zambia. He taught in their ministerial colleges and preached in conferences. There is no telling how many young men were trained in preaching and pastoral ministry by Kennedy, nor how many couples were taught about marriage by the Sunkutu’s. His knowledge of the Scriptures, his faithful example, his powerful voice, and his pastoral care will be deeply missed.

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Before his current role at HeartCry, S.R. served several years in pastoral ministry, and a few years in Zambia, Africa as a missionary.  He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps. S.R. and his wife have been blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They live near Christiansburg, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, where he enjoys deer hunting and fly-fishing for trout.

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