By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
CALEDONIA—For Honour Kent, a McKinnon Park graduate who grew up in Caledonia and recently moved to Madison, Wisconsin, working with faith-based group Youth with a Mission (YWAM) has been a journey rooted in love and a desire to put good into the world.
Kent first heard about YWAM in 2019, but it wasn’t until graduating high school in 2021 that she decided to attend their Madison-based Discipleship Training School, a 5-6 month long “intensive” training course consisting of lectures, classes on missions-related topics, and field work.
She said a large part of her work with YWAM has included doing ministry-related work at the University of Wisconsin, such as “cooking meals for students and evangelizing while giving out hot cocoa”. All of this helped prepare her for two months spent on introductory outreach trips in Detroit, Michigan, and then later in the Middle East to finish off her training.
Now a graduate, Kent is continuing her work as a youth missionary. Her most recent trip through YWAM brought her to Moldova, Poland, with a brief visit to Ukraine.
She said that one of the biggest things that she has learned in this line of work is how important it is to “trust God, and to trust that God will protect and provide for you. And to never assume you know how to drive in a foreign country!”
Kent shared some of her experiences from her recent trip: “Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, and because of this and the long-lasting effects of the Soviet Union in this country, many women and young girls are susceptible to trafficking and boys and men to gang lives.”
Kent worked at House of Hope while there: “This home is for single mothers with their children, abused women coming out of (or still in) dangerous relationships, and women who are at risk of being trafficked. We got to spend a week at this home, building them a play structure in their backyard, doing daily devotions with the women, and playing for hours with the children.”
While in Poland, Kent and her team were able to visit three cities with established YWAM bases, but Kent said it was the city of Rzeszów that touched her heart the deepest.
“Here, we had the opportunity to work with a Ukrainian refugee home, which really touched my heart. Here I chose to draw with the children, and many of them started drawing battlefields with Ukrainian and Russian flags – it was chilling. But the joy and laughter that these children possessed made my heart warm.”
While in Rzeszów, Kent travelled to the Ukrainian border, intending to cross into the war-torn land to “pray over the country, to encourage and talk to whoever we could, and to hand out Bibles to those who would accept.”
She said that although they encountered issues at the border, and had to proceed without their guide, her team was determined to proceed, entering the country through the small town of Shehyni.
Kent described sensing an “instant change” in the atmosphere, noting, “It was dark, both spiritually and physically; all of the buildings were relying on generators for power, and there were tents housing mothers and children, many of them just standing around or playing in the cold.”
She said they found a small, makeshift café, where they were able to sit and speak (with the help of Google translate) with a number of Ukrainians, including a woman who “had originally gotten out of Ukraine with her five children to Germany but returned recently for a funeral. She was sitting alone looking very discouraged and when we asked why, she told us that they wouldn’t let her out of Ukraine now because of the lack of proper documents. She was stressed and upset, worrying about her children in Germany. We talked to her for a long time, encouraging her with God’s promises to take care of His children. By the end of the time, she said she felt better after talking about it, and she was more encouraged to go back through border control, and praying for a different guard who might let her through.”
Kent said she felt encouraged by experiencing first-hand how hope and togetherness can survive, especially in regions affected by war and suffering.
“I am not by any stretch saying that people are not suffering, not at all. People all over Central and Eastern Europe have been impacted by this war. Some have lost their homes and families, others have lost their jobs or livelihoods, some are affected by the lowering of their economies and high gas prices, some may only be affected by association, but they have all been affected. They all have every right to throw in the towel, and say they’re done,” said Kent. “But every single person that I interacted with … they carried a sense of hope that tomorrow will be better, and they carried each other and the community in this hope.”
Kent raises money to support her efforts through her photography business, Scarlet Cord Photography, selling prints of photos she has taken during her travels as a missionary.
“I have had an interest in photography since I was very young, probably 5 or 6. Of course, then it was borrowing my mom’s flip phone to take a picture of my stuffed animals or Dora shoes,” explained Kent. “Since then, I’d like to say I’ve matured – some would argue – and refined my photography skills.”
Over the years Kent entered her work in local fairs, including the Caledonia Fair, and eventually, upon returning home to Caledonia after her training last March, she made the decision to turn her hobby into a way of funding her charitable work.
“I really started it because I thought it would be a fun way to earn some money and also share about my experiences in other countries,” said Kent. She noted that she was hesitant to start the business as she believes missionaries should be supported financially, “but I really felt like God was inviting me to do this and so I thought, why not!”
Kent urged those interested in supporting missionary efforts to research and support ministries around the world, such as the House of Hope ministry in Moldova.
She summed up her desire to continue her missionary work, positing that her work is not about “trying to change people’s cultures,” it’s about “showing the love of Jesus Christ to other people through acts of love, respect, and service. My desire as a missionary isn’t that people feel like I am forcing them into something they don’t want or need, but that my actions and words would reflect my God, who is loving, caring, and wants to know each person from every culture. If you have been hurt before by someone who did something harmful in Jesus’ name, I want to apologize on behalf of them, and tell you that you are loved and valuable.”
To view Kent’s photography and purchase a print in support of her efforts, visit honourekent.wixsite.com/scarlet-cord-photogr.