When I grow up

There are several people that have had a huge impact on my journey of becoming what and who I am today. Besides my mom and dad, the next big “influencer” would be Bro. Ken Sumrall….Papa Ken.

During my  time in Bible school Bro. Ken became a father, mentor, teacher and counselor. After college he became a friend, overseer and golf buddy.

If it had not been for his love for me and his Godly counsel, I don’t know where I would be today.

I once auditioned to be the piano player for a southern gospel quartet and when Bro. Ken heard about it he had a “talk” with me and that was it (however, I do play a mean piano). 

In addition to numerous such sessions that helped fashion my direction and destiny, I also had burned in my heart and mind the love for and need for God’s Word.

I believe it is one of the things that drives me today to send sea container after sea container filled with Bibles and books to give to pastors.

I so admire this “father of the faith” and catch myself even today while preaching, repeating and imitating some of the same characteristics while I preach. (Bro. Ken is an awesome preacher/teacher and I still am inspired by many of his sermons, especially ‘Don’t Cast Away Your Confidence’).


Today Debbie and I had the privilege to visit Bro. Ken in the Health Center where he is residing at the moment in Pensacola, Fla. We took him a vanilla milk shake and a scarf from Kenya and had a glorious time laughing and remembering many great moments in the journey we have shared together.

I left the center on cloud 9 having felt once again everything was alright….dad had hugged my neck and gave me that father look that says I am so proud of you. I am good now for the next 10 years!

As I have pondered all of this, I was reminded that in Kenya I am looked to by many “sons” as Baba…which is Swahili for father/daddy.

I am called this quiet often and many of the pastors look to me as a father. I find myself loving, mentoring and counseling many of them exactly like Bro. Ken has done to me. I use some of the same sayings, expressions and stories.

In Kenya, when someone is introducing themselves, they say…my names are…..Of course, in the west we say my name is. Well today, I would like to combine both ways to tell you my name. My names are Ronnie “the Bro. Ken of Africa” Matheny!

Thank you Bro. Ken for all  your investments in my life and may all the rest of your days be filled with love, strength, vanilla milk shakes and happy reunions! You are loved all over the world and you are helping many pastors in Africa today!


Ronnie and Debbie