Continuing a LegacyLatin America Caribbean
Central America Area Director Tara Kenyon began her new role on October 1, 2023. As area director, Kenyon oversees Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama. As one of five area directors in the Latin America Caribbean Region, Kenyon oversees approximately 70 missionary units.
“As a high school student, my call to missions happened on an Ambassadors in Missions (AIM) team to El Salvador. I did a lot of ministry throughout Central America,” said Kenyon. “Obviously, the Lord has me glued to Central America. The seeds of that harvest have been planted in me my whole adult life.” As an Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) missionary to Panama for 13 years, Kenyon is well acquainted with Central America.
Kenyon succeeds Jay and Nancy Dickerson as area director. The Dickersons first served as the Kenyon’s language school instructors in 2006, then became area directors over Central America, including Panama, the country in which the Kenyons are missionaries. “In our entire career, we have only known them as our leaders. They are awesome leaders. I believe that we have had only good examples, good mentoring, and good leadership in which to follow,” said Kenyon. “When your only model has been positive and good, that’s a really good place from which to start.”
Tara and Gerritt Kenyon met while attending North Central University (NCU). Gerritt studied youth ministry and Tara studied interdisciplinary studies. Their combined passion for youth ministry and their balanced strengths and weaknesses make them an incredible ministry team. “Through NCU we received both the training and education that we needed as we gave our lives to be missionaries,” said Kenyon. Latin America Caribbean Region Director, David Ellis, noted Tara and Gerritt’s teamwork. “[Tara and Gerritt] are highly spiritual people, hungry for the presence of God to be poured out in lives and ministry,” said Ellis. “They care for others; Tara is an excellent administrator, and they are both creative visionaries.”
As the Dickersons prepared to step down, Ellis asked Central America missionaries to suggest who they wanted to fill the Dickerson’s role. Tara’s fellow missionaries recommended her because of her strengths and giftings. Ellis prayerfully considered Tara, and selected her for this role.
“I think what is unique is that my colleagues could have chosen either myself or Gerritt as area director. We are both in it together because we do things as a team. I think the grace of God has given me opportunity to provide leadership in our area of Central America,” said Kenyon.
Kenyon is the first female area director in the Latin America Caribbean Region. Kenyon’s love for her role, her community, and Latin America, led Ellis to see her potential for the area director position.
When Kenyon first began her missionary journey, she never dreamed of being area director. Instead, she remained committed to God’s call to reach Latin American youth. She credits her ability to reach others to the many incredible mentors she has had throughout her missionary journey. “Don and Terri Triplett were our missionary mentors on the field. They are legends. So much of how we think and what we do has been intentionally deposited into us,” she said.
Kenyon’s vision as area director is twofold: acclimating herself to all the missionaries in her area and continuing the legacy her mentors are leaving behind. “I received a beautiful letter from a previous area director in Central America. He said, ‘If you can be kind, keep confidentiality, and try to be a blessing, you will be great in the position.’ I thought, what a beautiful way to sum things up.”
“God has given visions and dreams to the missionaries in Central America. I find it an honor if I can speak life and encouragement into those dreams—to help strategize in making these dreams become a reality so more people can be won,” said Kenyon. This is a large task due to the high standard set by the previous area directors, leadership, and mentors.
Kenyon’s goal is to help missionaries feel empowered with the resources and support necessary to fulfill God’s call and win the lost. Her other objective is to oversee missionary units and ensure missionary families and single missionaries have the resources they need to be healthy and grow. Her role will be administrative, but also pastoral. “I need to be discerning about where people are, what they are seeking from the Lord, and what they need from AGWM to be successful,” said Kenyon.
Kenyon wants to continue to learn what God has made her to be and what He has called her to do. “I hope that my perspective on life and the experiences that I have had that are unique to being a woman are able to add value to the work of the Lord in Latin America and particularly in Central America.”
As Kenyon settles into her role, she has two primary prayer requests. First, Kenyon, along with the Central America leadership team, is praying for new missionaries to come to Central America as existing missionaries age. The need for missionaries is prominent in Panama. “Panama has had some unique student ministry challenges, so we see the huge benefit in staying in Panama and mentoring new missionaries in that area,” said Kenyon.
A second prayer point is for the Kenyon family, specifically Tara and Gerritt’s children. “There could be a lot of pressure that comes with your parents being in charge. We really do believe it’s a family call. When we had our family meeting about this opportunity, both of our sons expressed a calling and a willingness to participate in ministry to missionary kids in our area. But it is also a very delicate situation.”
Since Gerritt is a missionary and pastor’s kid, he is attuned to the pressure that such a large role plays within a family. As the Kenyon’s children desire with eager hearts to participate in the Lord’s work, Kenyon knows the enemy will be after them and try to pull them away. For herself, Kenyon desires the wisdom and anointing that her role requires. “That really is my prayer—that the appropriate anointing and wisdom, discernment, vision, encouragement—the portion that’s needed for the job—would be abundant in my life.”