Liahona
Kevin and Kendra Henderson—North Carolina, USA
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“Kevin and Kendra Henderson—North Carolina, USA,” Liahona, September 2020

Portraits of Faith

Kevin and Kendra Henderson

North Carolina, USA

North Carolina: Scripture Study

At first, Kendra was against Kevin’s interest in the Church. Now they look back and see how the Lord guided them both to the gospel.

Leslie Nilsson, photographer

Kevin:

I met Gregory while working at the Veterans Administration hospital. One day we were talking when someone came over and asked Gregory if he was a Mormon. From there, they began comparing the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Something struck me as they talked. It made me curious.

When I got home, I asked Kendra if she knew anything about the Mormons.

“You better not believe anything about that,” she told me.

I was still curious and excited to return to work the next day and learn more. As we talked, Gregory asked me if I believed that my spirit existed prior to this life. The question really penetrated me. I had never thought if it before.

“Well, if I have to guess, I would say yes,” I said.

“There’s so much more knowledge that Heavenly Father has in store for all His children,” Gregory told me.

I talked to Kendra about what I had learned, but she was against it. She told me that she and the kids would never step foot in “that” church. I became very defensive, which was weird. I was defending something that I knew nothing about.

One night I dropped Kendra off at a friend’s house, and I went to see my dad. He is a deacon in another church, so I was scared to ask him if he knew anything about the Church.

He said, “I heard something about their priesthood not being allowed to black people, but you’re a good man. Pray about it, and God will let you know.”

That night, I got on my knees to pray, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. Well, I’m on my knees, I thought. I’ve got to say something! So I just said, “Dear Heavenly Father, I love you.”

I was restless that night. I tossed and turned. I desired something—it was almost like I had a craving. I woke up that morning and hoped Gregory wouldn’t say anything more about the Church. I was confused about all that was going on. I also didn’t want this to cause me to lose my marriage. But certain things would spark my interest, and I’d ask Gregory questions. Little by little, I learned more about the Church.

Kendra and I continued to argue. During one argument, I felt a prompting to not say anything. I went into the bathroom and fell to my knees.

I told Heavenly Father that I would do anything if He would let me know the path He wanted me to take. When I thought about baptism, I felt this rush, like the wind, come over me. It was the Holy Ghost telling me, “This is what you must do.”

I was ready to be baptized. The next morning, I went to work and shared my experience with Gregory. I said, “I’m ready, man.”

He arranged for me to meet with the missionaries. They taught me the lessons, and it went well and really fast! I never questioned anything. I knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith saw what he saw. I had a testimony. But this just drove Kendra further and further away.

Kendra:

I was so mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. I actually moved to Florida for a few months. One day I just cried out to God, “I’m tired of the arguing. Please help me figure out if this Church is right.”

As I prayed, peace came to me. Once I came back to North Carolina, I didn’t have all the negative energy I had before. I used to leave the room when the missionaries came, but after this experience, I started interacting with them and cooking dinner for them. But I still wasn’t ready to go to church with Kevin.

I started searching for another church that my children would be interested in, but no matter how good a church was, my daughter, Aryanna, would say, “I want to go to church with Daddy!” We eventually agreed to go one Sunday to Kevin’s church, and the next Sunday we’d find another church.

Later on, a friend I made in the ward texted me and asked if I wanted to sing in the choir for a stake conference. Why does she want me to sing? I thought. I’m not a member. I kept battling it, but finally I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.”

It wasn’t like singing in other churches where there’s a band, it’s loud, and it feels like you’re at a concert. We sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The words of the hymn and the sweet sound of the music really touched me.

Kevin:

A few months later, we were sitting in fast and testimony meeting, and Kendra said to me, “I think you should go up and share your testimony about prayer because of what it did for Dad.”

Kendra’s stepdad had just had a massive heart attack. We called on the ward to pray for him and our family during that time. Thankfully, he pulled through.

“I think you should do it,” I said. She got up and bore her testimony. It was so amazing. After this, things just started to unfold for her.

Kendra:

At the beginning of 2018, I kept hearing the name “President Monson.” At this time, I didn’t know this was the prophet. One night the missionaries came over and asked how I was doing.

“I’m doing fine,” I said, “but a person’s name keeps coming to my head, and I don’t know who it is.”

“What’s the name?” They asked.

“President Monson.”

“Kendra, that’s not just any name,” they said. “That’s the name of the prophet who just passed away. You should look at some talks he gave and see what the Lord wants you to learn from him.” I looked at some of his messages, and they were really touching and helped me. From there, it just seemed that the gospel kept coming back to me.

When we would go out to eat before, I would usually order a sweet tea, but Kevin would say, “You don’t need a sweet tea; get something else.”

One day I went to a fast food restaurant for my lunch break and ordered a sweet tea. A few minutes later, an employee said, “At the very moment you ordered a sweet tea, the machine broke.”

She said it would take about an hour to fix the machine. I only had 30 minutes for lunch. I just ordered a soda instead. At that point I laughed and said, “All right, I get it now!”

I wanted to join the Church, but I also didn’t want to make my mom mad. My mom played a big role in my decisions while I was growing up. She was a minister, so I constantly listened to her instead of going to church and learning for myself.

I was a little hesitant when we set a date for my baptism. The missionaries came over, and we talked about it.

Finally, I asked my daughter, Aryanna, “Do you want to be baptized?”

She said, “Mom, I’m ready whenever you are.”

She told me that when she went to church, all the girls ran and greeted her. They took her to Primary classes and were always friendly. They wanted her to be part of things. She became really good friends with one of the girls. That’s what she enjoyed about it.

At Aryanna’s baptism, she cried tears of joy. When I saw her, I thought, I’m where I need to be.

Kevin:

I know Heavenly Father brought the gospel to our family because He loves and cares about us so much.

North Carolina: Portraits of Faith - Families

When Kevin and Kendra married, Aryanna (left) was two years old. “From early on, I knew she was very special spiritually,” Kevin says. She was drawn to the Book of Mormon and felt the Spirit when she first attended church. Aryanna enjoys her association with the young women in her ward.

North Carolina: Portraits of Faith - Families

Kevin and his son, Kevin Jr., look at a Come, Follow Me lesson together. Studying the gospel together has been a blessing for the Henderson family.