John Enright, one of my heroes

Posted: January 10, 2018 by efenster in Stories
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UnknownJohn Enright, one of my heroes, died in a tragic car accident December 26th.  He and his wife, Kendra, who was injured, have been missionaries in Africa pretty much all their lives.  I think John and I connected with each other in part because both of our parents had been missionaries in the former Belgian Congo when we were children (mine briefly).

Our lives didn’t intersect a lot, but I think of three specific times…

The first was May 20, 1986.  I remember that date because it happened be my birthday.  I was at John and Kendra’s home in Luana, Congo (then called Zaire), with my pastor, Rev. Bob Glass and a small team of people from Simpson United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne.  Simpson had a special connection to John because it provided him with a home while he attended high school, the same high school my three sons attended.  The church had a short wave radio club and communicated regularly with John and his parents, Ken and Lorraine Enright.

John introduced me to church planting during that 1986 visit.  He was so passionate about church planting.  He had helped his Bishop and the North Katanga Conference plant dozens and dozens of churches.  I remember visiting a worship service at one of those churches.  It was so full that many people had to stand outside.  It was on John’s watch that The United Methodist Church in Congo experienced its explosive growth.

On that trip John also shared how we must not only share Christ, but also help people earn a decent living.  So many natives were experiencing subsistence living.  He proudly showed us his banana plantation and palm tree grove in Luana.  It was a grand experiment to discover whether these could potentially provide Congolese with a decent income.

The next time our paths crossed was in the year 2000 when he and his family came to the states.  I was visiting Hanfield UMC, which is pastored by Rev. Tim Helm.  I kept hearing about Hanfield, located in an old rural church building, because of its amazing growth.  So on May 7, 2000, I went to see for myself what was going on.  That Sunday the church was so full I had to sit outside the sanctuary door.  Guess who happened to be preaching–John Enright.  Hanfield has been a long-time supporter of the Enrights and he and his family were visiting.  One of the things John shared that day was that our TV sets here in the U.S. are pumping sewage into our homes, polluting our minds.  The content is unwholesome and unhealthy, that God calls us not to expose ourselves to such filth.  Not a bad word for us today!

Most recently, November 20, 2016, I had returned to Hanfield, except this time it was to visit the church’s inner-city campus on the north side of Marion.  Who should happen to be preaching–John Enright!  So I got to eat lunch with him afterwards to learn the latest news.  At that time John and his family had resettled in neighboring Zambia.  A lot of what he had been doing in Congo he started again in Zambia–a medical flight ministry, a training school for pastors, and banana plantations.  He also had started a furniture making business, staffed by natives, aqua fisheries, and more.

But when I met him that November morning, he shared how he had started the biggest honey production business in the world!  His business sold hives to natives who in turn had his business buy, process, and sell their honey.  The natives saw their monthly incomes jumped from $5.00 to $50, and his business earned enough profit to generate nearly $1 million to support mission work.  It was a win-win for everyone!  And as he said, “The bees always showed up to work.”

As you can see, John was not only a disciple maker but also a world changer!  Thousands have come into relationship with Christ through his life’s ministry, and entire communities have been transformed through not only their knowledge of Jesus and his love, but through economic prosperity.  John Enright will be truly missed, but the fruit of his work will continue.  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Assoc. Director of Church Development

 

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