The Eurasia Blog is pleased to announce a new regular feature to the blog: Missionary Profiles. One to two times per month, we will do an in depth profile on a missionary serving the Lord in the Eurasia Region. This month, we will focus on new Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) Missionary Kendra McNatt. This post will serve both as Kendra’s welcome to the region, and as the first in this series of Missionary Profiles.
Kendra McNatt is serving the Lord in Frankfurt, Germany as a GEO missionary. She serves as the Director of Christian Education (DCE) Intern at Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfurt, Germany. Trinity is an English-speaking congregation of the LCMS serving the expatriate community in Frankfurt. Frankfurt has many expatriates from many countries. There are about 50,000 expatriates in Frankfurt, but this number fluctuates often. Kendra arrived in late August and will return to the United States in January 2015.
Kendra is originally from Huntington Beach, CA. She moved to Florida for college, where she attended the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL. At the University of North Florida, Kendra received a BA in Psychology. She specialized in animal behavior in her degree, but when she graduated it was a bad time in the economy to find jobs in her field. She really struggled with what to do after graduating, something many young college graduates face. However, some well placed hints from a friend helped Kendra make a decision to do something new. Kendra says, via email:
Long story short (a few arguments with God later), I decided to explore international mission work and realized I had no knowledge to contribute in the field. A friend had suggested looking into a DCE program because it was well-rounded training, and I would probably enjoy it. [Concordia University Nebraska] CUNE advertised a graduate DCE certification program, and so I went for it. The program is three semesters of theology, education, and a few psychology classes with an internship at the end (which I am currently completing).
Kendra’s psychology degree makes her a well-rounded candidate for a DCE with a diverse educational background. Kendra says that studying psychology taught her
to love getting to the basics of a person. Psychology trains you to look at a person from many different angles and disciplines; you break down what you know about a person into different parts to rearrange it and put it back together into a picture that makes that person completely unique. And people’s pictures are always changing! That’s what I love about Christian education – you are given permission to witness some of the most intimate parts of people’s lives – their basics (let’s face it, our relationship with God should be the most intimate thing we experience). Then I have the joy of walking with them as they build on their basics and live out their lives as disciples of Christ.
During her internship at Trinity Lutheran Church in Frankfurt, Kendra will have many opportunities to learn to know and understand people, as well as walk with them on their journeys. Her responsibilities will include teaching and encouraging the youth through Bible studies, fellowship, and service events. She will also help teach Confirmation classes, do outreach, and build relationships with the youth. Additionally, she will help with children’s ministry primarily through supporting the Sunday school teachers and other leaders. There are about 12-15 youth, 13 confirmands, and 50 children registered for Sunday School, with about 25-35 in regular attendance. She will work closely with the Deacons of Education to work toward strengthening education opportunities at Trinity.
Anticipated joys as she serves include:
Building relationships and seeing relationships built – I love getting to see people’s hearts and watching where God takes them…and watching those “light bulb moments” – when something clicks and whatever the person has been learning goes from a nice theory to real applicability. These moments are often small and rare, but they keep me going on a rainy day.
Right now, Kendra is focusing on settling into her new church home in order to understand its needs and how best to serve. Being new to Trinity, one of the challenges is absorbing all of the information about the congregation. In these first few weeks, says Kendra, “the opportunities and needs in this church and community are so vast and many so urgent! I’m struggling right now to even make sense of them all. There are moments when I don’t even know where or how to begin ministering to the people here.” Rev. Robert Flohrs, pastor of Trinity and Kendra’s supervisor, writes that the congregation averages about 120 in worship each week. Of those, about 85 are American expatriates, but some are from other countries like India. About 40-50 native Germans attend the English-language services at Trinity as well. One of the things that makes Trinity unique is the make-up of worshipers from different countries. This also leads to interesting differences. For instance, Rev. Flohrs writes that, “We have so many that just come and worship and are not members. Membership outside the US and Germany is not something that is done in churches. For example, in India and Asia, which is where many of our worshipers come from, they simply attend worship and are active in their communities.” Being new in a congregation is always a learning experience as you find out their traditions, procedures, needs, and opportunities.
On top of that, Kendra is adjusting to living in a different culture where she does not know the language. She is looking forward to beginning German lessons soon. She says of Germany:
I love the pace of life – not crazy fast but not super slow; people usually have a destination but they still take their time getting there.
It’s frustrating to not understand the language. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to shake my head, apologize, and ask if they could say it in English. But I’m starting some German lessons soon, so hopefully I can overcome a little of that (after I work up the courage to use what I learn, of course!).
Kendra had also been living in a temporary apartment for a few weeks, but she has found a permanent place and recently moved in there. This will certainly be a helpful step in making Kendra feel more and more “at home.”
As Kendra learns more about life in Germany and at Trinity, she has three main goals for her internship:
To learn about and how to work within different cultures and what the varying needs are;
To develop a solid plan for, understanding of, and passion for Christian education at Trinity;
To disciple students who can disciple others.
Pastor Flohrs notes that Trinity offers a wonderful learning experience for an intern:
For the most part simply the overseas setting, the multi-cultural aspect, the big number of children/youth compared to the total worshiping community [offers a good learning experience]. It really is a wonderful example of many cultures gathering together in Word and Sacrament ministry. Along with the many cultures Trinity is a very welcoming congregation. Much of this welcoming attitude comes from the fact that most of our people have moved to Frankfurt.
He says that Trinity hopes to help an intern “grow in the experiences of serving a congregation that is 50 percent permanent (over 5 years) [with the] the remaining [worshipers] here for jobs/schooling. Trinity is a congregation that will test a church worker as to program/people continuity.” Trinity also greatly benefits from having a DCE intern or GEO youth worker because “we have such a high percentage of children/youth an intern is a perfect match for Trinity. The congregation is very supportive of a church worker who is trained in youth/children education. Education is an important ingredient in the culture.”
Trinity also benefits from having interns and GEOs, says Pastor Flohrs:
Trinity benefits from the professional preparation that occurs at our Lutheran Universities in that they are first of all focused on the Gospel, secondly how does the Gospel apply to my life. Our goal over the last few years has been to offer classes, worship [and] activities that grow people spiritually first and secondly offer opportunities for people to gather. Expats need a safe place spiritually and a community that genuinely cares. That is what Kendra has gleaned out of her first month.
Rev. Flohrs already sees many strengths in Kendra, as well:
Her love of the Lord and drive to initially listen to youth, children, parents [is a strength]. [She desires to] come up with ways to integrate that age group into the life of the congregation and community better. She loves Scope and Sequence so in the first month she is helping to better define those in all of our Christian Education.
Please join us in welcoming DCE Kendra McNatt to the Eurasia Region! Thanks be to God for willing servants!
Here are some fun facts about Kendra so that you can get to know her more:
- Kendra loves the outdoors. Some of her favorite activities include running, surfing, hiking, and kayaking.
- She likes to paint and draw.
- She plays the guitar.
- Kendra loves to cook (and eat too, she adds).
- She’s always ready for a card game, a good glass of wine, a cup of coffee, and catching up with her friends.
- Kendra worked with dolphins in Hawaii.
- Consider supporting Kendra as she serves her DCE internship year as a GEO missionary.
- Learn more about past events at Trinity Frankfurt.
- Read about Trinity and find out more about their worship schedule, activities, and more on their website.
- Pray for Kendra as she settles into her new home and her new job!
- Pray that Kendra’s goals for her internship would be met and directed by God’s grace and mercy, and that He would lead and guide her as she serves His people.
- Interested in serving the Lord through the LCMS as a missionary? Check out the many different options for service here.