Barely able to contain their smiles, Kena and Willis share how Jesus drew them together.
Kena was leading Sunday School in the Wusaraambya village and Willis was the Bible teacher. Both of them were faithfully seeking God and waiting on him for their marriage plans. It took Kena’s near wedding to an unbeliever to open Willis’ eyes to the fact that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
“We had both been saved during Sunday School classes held by Cathy (Fondse) then and her former co-worker Joan Randall,” says Kena. “Then when the ministry changed hands as Joan left and Cathy’s new husband came to join her in the work, we both decided that we wanted to help see the church grow.”
From a young age, Kena helped Cathy in the home with cooking, baking and home-schooling her four small children. She learned right along with them, and often probed Cathy with questions about God and the Bible.
Meanwhile, Willis began helping Andrew with Bible translation and was gradually discipled into the role of Bible teacher as he continued to faithfully seek God.
“God saved me from four arranged marriages in that time,” shares Kena. “At first, I was so scared that I would end up with an unbeliever, but as I committed each instance to God, I saw Him work.”
One of the men ran off with another woman before the marriage could take place, another moved to the city, and a third broke a contract with Kena’s uncles who were arranging the marriage.
“Finally, there was only one man left,” says Kena. “I knew that he was coming from the city in a couple of weeks to marry me, and at that point, I already liked Willis. But Willis was so focused on God that he didn’t seem to notice me at all.”
Willis, though, was going through his own struggle. Despite his hours of prayer for a godly wife, his father had suddenly decided to arrange a marriage for him as well, a marriage to an unbeliever named Kristaa. Thankfully, God saved Willis from that marriage when Willis’ brother decided to marry Kristaa instead.
Meanwhile, the Lord made it clear to Willis that Kena was the woman he wanted to marry just before a believers conference held in Asiana. On their journey to the conference, Willis gave specific responsibilities to Kena, such as serving food to all the other Wusaraambya believers, which a wife traditionally does for her husband.
“This left me very confused,” admits Kena. “I didn’t know if he actually did like me or if he was just being oblivious to the culture.”
When it kept repeating itself, Kena began to realise it was Willis’ way of showing her that he loved her. Two weeks later, he asked her to marry him and she agreed.
The only hurdle was getting permission from the uncles for Willis to marry Kena. After much prayer, Willis went to ask the uncles for permission. and the three uncles agreed that he should marry Kena.
Kena and Willis said their vows in front of the church, holding onto a Tangat plant, the symbol of unity in the village. Many of the older women cried during the ceremony, saying that if they could go back to when they were young, they would have married their husbands that way.
Today, Kena and Willis are serving together in the church and are able to minister to many of the young men and women there. Often they hear comments from the younger, unmarried believers, “We are going to wait for the right person to marry, just the way you did.”