SPECIAL REPORT: MISSIONS
When Karen Workentin first moved to the "land down under," she had $200 in her pocket and a one-way plane ticket. She'd never heard of Rhema Bible Training College and had never been to any Bible school. But she knew the Lord was calling her to Australia—and so she went!
At the time, Karen thought spending six months in this foreign land would be significant enough for the Lord. Those six months turned into 13 1/2 years of missionary work,
during which Karen helped establish several churches. She did all she could to help further the Kingdom of God. Interestingly, it was also during this time that she became acquainted with Rhema.
"I didn't really know about Kenneth Hagin," Karen recalled. "My father was a dairy farmer in Washington State and always had the Christian radio on. I did know Brother Hagin preached to our cows, but that's all I knew," she laughed.
When friends encouraged her to attend a new Bible school in the city of Perth where she was living, Karen agreed to go. That school was Rhema Australia. The teaching she received there was unlike anything she had heard before. In a letter to a friend she wrote, "There's not one Bible story that remains the same as I learned it. They've absolutely changed up everything! My conflict is that I've been raised to believe the Bible is true. And everything I see they're teaching is in the Bible. Something's going to have to give!"
Something did give. As it always had, the Bible convinced Karen of the truths she was receiving at Rhema. "I'd had no idea that the power of God was something totally accessible to ordinary people who would simply believe," she recalled. "I had always believed the Bible. But I had no idea the Word was as potent out of my lips as it was out of those who inspired it, wrote it, and walked with Christ. I had no idea that I could lay hands on the sick and see them recover or that my Christian walk could be supernatural." The teaching Karen received at Rhema revolutionized her life and ministry.
Back to the States
Though Australia was deeply entrenched in Karen's heart, in 1992 she found the Lord calling her back to the United States. "I wept when I left Australia," she remembered. "I felt like I was abandoning the people." But the Lord had more training in store for her.
Karen moved to Tulsa where she was able to get to know Rhema's ministry firsthand from the base. That experience opened her eyes. She also found herself utilizing her education background. Following her heart's desire, she served as dean at colleges in both Oklahoma and New Mexico. She then moved to Tennessee and became vice president of a university.
"I wanted to have my feet in traditional missions," Karen explained. "But in these schools I was learning things I could take back into more traditional ministry. I learned how to do administration in a higher education setting and how to work with students."
While in Tennessee, Karen heard that Tony and Patsy Cameneti, 1983 and 1977 Rhema USA graduates, were moving to Australia. They were going to establish Kenneth Hagin Ministries Australia and to reestablish Rhema Bible Training College Australia.
Friends encouraged Karen to contact the Camenetis to see if they'd like her help. She didn't know Tony or Patsy personally and had never heard them minister, but the Lord supernaturally connected them. Several emails and phone calls later, it was settled. Karen would return to Australia to help the Camenetis. She'd return to the nation God had placed on her heart so many years before.
Three months later, Karen flew back to the other side of the earth. She'd quit her job and sold her home, car, and most of her possessions—all to follow the Lord's call. Her only desire was to serve Him. And from the moment she arrived, that's exactly what she did.
Karen jumped in to help Rhema Australia in its pioneering stage. The staff worked out of their homes and met in restaurants. All the while they prayed and believed God. And He didn't disappoint! In 2009, Rhema Australia relaunched in Brisbane with 18 students and Karen as the dean.
One unique facet of Rhema Australia that Karen is particularly passionate about is their monthly Explosion Days. "When we were putting the school together, Patsy felt in her heart that we were to have an evangelistic stream," she explained. "And she assigned me the task of making that happen.
"So once a month, we leave the traditional classroom and go out into the marketplaces, malls, parking lots, and beaches. Our purpose is to teach students how to win the lost to Jesus Christ and fulfill the Great Commission as a lifestyle. This is critical, as approximately 90 percent of the people in Australia are not born again. The students must develop a compassion for the lost."
And they are! Students at Rhema Australia are discovering not only how to evangelize effectively but how to be led by the Holy Spirit as they do. They take their cues from the Lord in order to know who to share the Gospel with. And they're seeing amazing results!
On their scheduled Explosion Day in September 2014, students led 25 people to the Lord and ministered to 151. In the weeks following—on their personal time—they led another 100 people to the Lord.
"When the students go out, it's always supernatural," Karen said. "And of course, that makes their faith so real. Some students I would have considered too shy to even approach a fence post get really stirred in their heart by the Word. They go out and witness all the time!
"I love these students," Karen continued. "I've been in schools for years, but Bible school takes you to the heart of why you're in the earth. It's the opportunity to give others the life-changing Rhema curriculum—the powerful Word. That's got to be the top job in the world! I will always teach that it's a powerful life we can live."
Rhema Australia Explosion Day Testimonies
Prior to Explosion Day, a student heard in her prayer time that she was going to run into a man who could not walk. The Lord told her she'd pray for him and he would walk. That student found the man in a shopping center. She told him Jesus heals today and explained what the Lord had told her. The man agreed to let her pray. She did so in the middle of the marketplace and the power of God healed him. The man jumped out of his scooter and began to dance with joy.
A student heard the Lord tell her to go to the top floor of a parking garage at a shopping mall. Once there, she ran into two 15-year-old boys riding skateboards. She asked them if she could talk with them about Jesus. They agreed, got off their skateboards, and sat down on the curb to listen. Minutes later, both boys asked Jesus into their hearts.
One student saw a young girl limping in the street. He asked if he could pray for God to heal her. She agreed. Seconds later, the girl felt the healing power of God take her pain away. That girl and her friend were so amazed by God's power that they asked Jesus into their hearts. A few minutes later, three more of that girl's friends were born again.