What's on Your Spiritual Bucket List?
Dr. Kenn Munn, Kingwood UMC Associate Pastor, has always wanted to share the living water with those who are physically and spiritually thirsty in Central America. He shares the joy of crossing that off his “Bucket List.”
To determine what might be on your ‘spiritual bucket list’ Rev. Dr. Kenn Munn loves asking this question: How does God want to love the world through me? Says Kenn, “Most of us are hardly aware of how God might love the world through us, but when we experience that firsthand, like I did recently in Guatemala, it is transformational.”
Kenn’s trip to Central America this year resurrected a dormant dream that had been in his heart since his 20s when he was a young architect. He admits that he felt the call to ministry during his freshman year at Lon Morris, but “did not have the maturity to respond” until he had been a degreed architect for about four years. “One day I realized what I enjoyed most about my career was the client contact and care, rather than the building and planning. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was trying to make architecture into pastoral ministry. I regularly found myself counseling my clients on marital issues and helping them find a church home -- things that had nothing to do with architecture and everything to do ministry,” he recalls. “That was about the time I decided that the greatest thing I could do as an architect would be to someday help drill a water well in some Central American village. Now THAT would be a way that God could love the world through ME!”
That “someday” was a few decades in coming. Kenn could hardly believe his ears when Kingwood UMC pastor Jim Welch asked him to lead a mission team to Guatemala this summer. “Our church had raised money with Living Water International prior to my arrival, yet I got to be the one to help make it happen, and I could not believe I was finally living out my dream.”
Everyone Loves a Happy Ending
Upon arrival to the small, poverty-ravaged village, Kenn and his five teammates witnessed a heartbreaking sight. “Thousands of acres of sugar cane surrounded this tiny community of about 25 families and the drastic harvesting process had impacted the water table and caused a loss of the few livestock they were dependent on.” In minutes, the team also realized the community’s shallow hand-dug well was just feet from their hand-dug latrine and that the villagers had been polluting their already-dirty drinking water for years. To make matters worse, a major source of income for the villagers was to hire themselves out to the same sugar cane processors that were destroying their way of life. He notes, “This was a completely classic image of injustice and oppression.” As Kenn and the team stepped into their world, they began to pray that the Lord would break their heart for what breaks His heart in the lives of these people, and God began to do just that.
A dozen or so men from the village worked alongside the Kingwood team for several days, in spite of fairly severe language barriers. When the group found clean water at 235 feet and installed the well, the natural next step was to fellowship collectively with a celebration service at the tiny church nearby. Kenn recalls the touching moments that followed. “We learned that a previous pastor in the village had absconded with the money raised for a new church, and the current pastor had been working diligently for nine years to rebuild the image of a true Christ follower in the eyes of the villagers,” Kenn shares. “At the celebration service, the pastor broke down in tears, telling us that once the villagers learned we were installing the water well as a gift, they experienced the first glimmer of hope and admiration of Christians they could admire – following almost a decade of mistrust.”
Kenn is quick to admit he experienced this miracle of visible life change simply because the team was willing to get dirty and let God love the world through them. “Much like I was taught in architecture school, that the purest form of architecture is a bridge because it is 100% art and 100% engineering, I believe that drilling a water well might be the purest form of ministry we can participate in. It is 100% tangible and at the same time it is 100% spiritual,” he adds. “It was an amazing reminder, since I talk for a living, that the impact of our trip had everything to do with actions and nothing to do with words.”
As his longtime dream unfolded, Kenn personally experienced multiple life changing blessings, including a special time of prayer with local women and children during the week. “The translator was telling me what they were praying over me and it brought me to tears,” he says.
Guatemala delivered a powerful experience that further solidified his personal mission to be an advocate for marginalized people in the world. “I highly encourage others to consider what might be or might should be on their spiritual bucket list. Without giving thought to that, we often fall into the trap of a comfortable drive-through Christianity,” he adds. “Our own understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ really begins to transform when we ask that simple question, “How does God want to love the world through me?"
Dr. Munn has shared additional videos on his Facebook page for those interested.