Local man wants people struggling to know: You Are Loved
Mural painting slated for Monday, Sept. 25, at Emerge.
XENIA — Like a lot of people in long-term recovery, Bobby Kenney III says there was a time in his life years ago when he was at rock bottom. Caught up in the horrors of hardcore drug addiction in his teenage years, he said it wasn’t long until he found himself behind bars.
“I had a lot of brokenness when I was a kid and I got into drugs,” Kenney said, while holding his newborn son earlier this week. “I ended up homeless and on the run from the cops. When I went to jail, there were three guys who came in and told me that God loves me. That was the first time I ever had hope in my life. That’s when I really dove deeper into my faith.”
Eventually, after surrendering to God and turning his life around, Kenney said he sought ways to give back and help others. That is when, he said, God gave him a vision in a dream.
“I saw this girl who was waking up. She had been crying and there was black makeup running down her face,” Kenney said. “She looked into a mirror and saw that she was wearing a shirt that said: ‘You Are Loved.’ When she saw the shirt, she smiled.”
After having this vision, Kenney decided to start a clothing line, with t-shirts that said, “You Are Loved,” like the one he saw in his dream.
“We started giving them away to homeless people,” he said. “One day I met a homeless man, and I shared my story. I told him God loved him and he told me that after everything he’d been through that was hard to believe. I prayed with him, and the Lord broke those chains of addiction in his life. We started praying and he started yelling ‘thank you Jesus!’ and he started bawling tears of joy.” Spreading God’s love, Kenney said, is the mission he has been called to perform — to bring hope and love to the homeless, to people locked up and to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. “Every time someone buys a t-shirt, we donate one to the homeless or to youth,” he said. “We also do ‘You Are Loved’ murals and cards — reminding the reader of their identity as a beloved child of God.”
Recently, Kenney was connected to Elaine Bonner, director of philanthropy at Emerge Recovery & Trade Initiative. “Elaine used to work with one of our board members,” Kenney said. “We got together for coffee, and I just shared my story and shared the mission. Emerge is amazing. It’s amazing to meet people in recovery and walk with them on their journey towards recovery.”
On Monday, Sept. 25, Kenney will be coming to Emerge to paint one of his 16-foot murals in the outpatient clinical services building. “That’s a good place for the message to be,” he said. “I encountered the Lord when I was 18. Today, I am 28. I never saw this coming. The guys in jail told me the lord can use everything for good. I’ve been to hell and back and God is going to use that for good. The people in jail told me he’s going to use everything for good. He has given me a testimony to share his power, mercy and good. He is good. His love is powerful.”
As the founder of “You Are Loved,” which officially became a nonprofit in 2021, Kenney now works full time for this mission, dedicating his time and efforts into bringing the Love of God to many more souls. “I met Bobby through a mutual friend and immediately fell in love with the mission of You are Loved,” Elaine Bonner said. To watch a young person, lead with faith and create a grassroots nonprofit is quite an inspiration to me.”
Today, in addition to painting murals and distributing shirts and cards, Kenney said he is working to develop a team at his nonprofit. “Every Wednesday, I go to the streets in Dayton to meet the homeless,” he said. “We have a board of four people. I am the only one who works at this full-time. We also have a new blog on YouTube called the Beatitude blog. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the Lord and see where this goes.”
For more information on the Dayton-area mission, go to https://www.youarelovedmission.com/
To follow the progress of Emerge, contact Elaine Bonner at 937.974.6120 or email@example.com