Featured Racer: Kendall Thompson
Kendall Thompson grew up in Shelbyville, Tennessee. But she'll tell you she's from Murfreesboro, because Shelbyville's such a small town. It's so small, in fact, that there were only 80 people in her high school's graduating class. "I never thought I'd do something like this," she said about her decision to spend a year traveling around the world.
Kendall is on the July 2012 X squad of the World Race. We spoke with her while she was in Bangkok, Thailand, where her team was ministering to the "ladyboys" working in the red-light district. She was on her way from Malaysia to Cambodia.
Kendall's been a Christian for about two and a half years. She had been to church before but hadn't grown up going regularly, and in high school, she stopped attending altogether.
"I drank a lot, stopped caring about everything," she said. "Definitely not the Christian lifestyle."
Until she encountered God, Kendall's sister, Cassey was her partner-in-crime. Six years ago, after suffering from panic attacks being healed at a church service, Cassey became a Christian.
The two sisters who were once very close grew distant. "It took three years of watching her," Kendall said, before her life would change.
Shame and guilt filled Kendall as she compared her life with her sister's.
But everything changed on August 15, 2009.
For weeks, Kendall had been contemplating suicide. It was four in the morning, as she was lying in bed; she had been crying, the thoughts of suicide strong in her mind.
"I just called to God, ‘I can't live this way.'" She surrendered to him at that moment, and the tears immediately stopped.
She saw a vision of two sisters kneeling, with a child. Though she didn't understand it at the time, God's presence filled her and the room.
After that pivotal moment, Kendall broke up with her boyfriend and lost some of her friends. Her lifestyle completely changed.
"It was really difficult, but God was really faithful," she said. It wasn't long before she also felt God calling her to missions. "I knew there was more than just going to church, just sitting there. I knew there was something more to see."
In the spring of 2010, Kendall discovered the World Race the same way most people do: Google. When she saw the website pop up, her response was, "Oh, there's no way."
After all, she had an awesome job as a hairdresser. She had built great relationships with her clients and had amassed $15,000 in student debt.
Through prayer, Kendall was led to be wiser with her finances and used Dave Ramsey's "envelope system" of managing money. After that, "crazy stuff began to happen," she said.
By November 2010, Kendall was debt-free. Also, she got into an accident that totaled her car and forced her to decide between spending the insurance money on a nicer car or to downgrade.
It was then that she reconsidered the World Race.
Kendall told her dad about it, and he said, "I think this is what you're supposed to do."
So in January 2011, she decided to go for it. She applied for the World Race.
Other family members were at first unsure, but eventually they rallied behind her. The hardest part about going on the Race was leaving her job and mentors behind.
"I had never left the country," she said, admitting that the longest she had been away from home was 10 days.
Kendall knew leaving home would mean leaving behind her job and mentors, which was the hardest part.
When she first felt the call to missions, considering a short-term trip to Uganda, she sensed God saying, "Kendall, you need more." Now she knew "more" meant something that would immerse her completely into the world, not just a short-lived experience.
To hear more about Kendall's experience on the World Race, subscribe for updates to the World Race blog. We will continue our feature on Kendall with more about life on the field and what it's like to serve as team leader.