Kevin Kolb on March 14th, 2018

After a busy Sunday, we woke up Monday excited for the trip home.  We repacked our bags which sounds a whole lot easier than it was.  By this time in the trip you have dirty and clean clothes, souvenirs and gifts, and just a bunch of stuff that you’ve collected and somehow has to make it back in the suitcase.  There were several items that we left for the McCowns (whether they wanted them or not) because there was just no more room in the luggage.  The McCown family went with us to the bus stop.  I grabbed some donuts to share with everyone, we said prayers over each other, waved goodbye and then headed to the airport.  What a joy it was to hang out with this dear family for a week.  I’m so encouraged by their commitment to and resolve for ministry in Japan.  They’ve embraced the challenge, the food, the culture, and are working hard on the language. They understand the sacrifice (there are many and they are real), yet they persevere for the gospel sake counting them as light afflictions (2 Cor. 4:17).  There are some challenges that await them for sure, but for now, they are blessed to be where they are and a blessing to those they’ve come to serve.  In three weeks they help their church host the youth camp for Tokyo area Baptist churches.   Close to 300 have preregistered. Please pray that the Lord will work in a powerful way in the lives of the young people at camp. In April all four kids will begin their next year of school in the Japanese school system.  That means in one month all four of them will go from homeschooling in English to public education in Japanese.  This will be a major adjustment for the whole family and the shock of language immersion could last up to 6 months. Pray for them as they work through this next phase of culture shock.

Since I’ve been home I’ve tried to spend time with my wife and kids, get back into the office, set up my appointments, continue sermon prep, exercise and adjust my sleeping patterns (I’ve woke up at 3:30 and 4:00 each of the last two mornings but that will adjust in time).  I’m also trying to not let all the impressions I experienced on the trip slip away.  Telling and retelling what God is doing in these countries is a big part of why pastors need to go in the first place.  I shot some video in Cambodia that hope to use as the basis for a video that will be shown in churches and fellowship meetings to get the word out about the need. Pray with me that there will be some who answer the call of God to go to this field and join in the harvest.

So it is back to work, tired but energized, encouraged and refreshed, thankful and prayerful.

“Father, You know the work of Grace Baptist Church is a global work.  It is so because you have directed it.  We long to make your glory known in places where it is currently not known.  We pray that you would send more to labor in your field.  We pray that we would recognize the field all around us.  Connect us to the work you have called us for.  Find us faithful there when you return.”

To our missionary friends, we speak to you a word of blessing from Numbers 6:24-26.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you. 

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. 

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Amen.

 

For a full report on the Work of God during this trip please attend our service this Sunday evening.

Kevin Kolb on March 11th, 2018

Pastor Kevin with Hika, Jim Smith, and Hika’s uncle “Harry”

A special blessing awaited me when I arrived at church this morning. Hika, a young man who spent a summer attending our church two years ago,  greeted me when I arrived.  Hika is a MK from Japan whose parents are leading a Japanese church in Hawaii.  He has lived all his life in the USA and speaks perfect English. After graduating from Liberty University with a business degree he has now been hired by an American company to live and work in Tokyo. I remember meeting Hika at IHOP at the close of his summer internship with Lockheed and praying with him that God would send him into to the darkness. Hika’s name means “light”. God has answered that prayer. His job starts April 2nd. He will be working in the challenging realm that all Japanese businessmen in downtown Tokyo face, long hours and a ton of pressure. It is a place that traditional American missionaries rarely if ever gain access.

Let’s pray for Hika’s business success, but more importantly that the light of the gospel will penetrate the darkness through him in a great way.  (Matt. 5:14-17)

Kevin Kolb on March 10th, 2018

Saturday was spent touring the largest city in the world.  With over 30 million people, Tokyo is a thoroughly modern city which obviously would take more than a day to see. But we were able to capture the heart of the city at two different locations.  The first was the at an ancient (6th century) Buddhist shrine where people by the droves came from all over the city to offer their money and do other religious acts not so much to worship a deity as to gain more control over their fate.  The second location was the ultra-modern technology district filled with arcades, anime, and pop culture galore.  It was quite the contrast in style, to say the least.  It is hard for the western mind to process in a few short hours how such places exist just a few train stops away from each other yet blend together to make up this city.

What was easier to see was Tim and Jenelle’s heart for the people of the city.  As we stood at the top of SkyTree (the tallest tower in the world), I snapped a picture of our missionaries looking out over their mission field.  They have a genuine burden for the hearts of the people in this city.  The task is massive.  So much of Japanese culture opposes the gospel. But without the gospel, this modern city, with its 30 million souls, will be lost in its sin and separated from their creator God for all eternity.  (Rom. 10:13-14)

Tim and Jenelle are penetrating this darkness.  They are learning the language, living in the culture, being careful not to give any offense, all the while knowing that the gospel offends. (2 Cor. 6:3-4)  They have faith that God will save and transform people through the Word of God.  I’m so thankful they answered the call to go.  I’m so thankful Grace Baptist answered the call to send them.

Kevin Kolb on March 8th, 2018

Yesterday, we were leaving the hotel for the day and we just missed the shuttle to the train station.  After an hour wait, we boarded the next shuttle, and God’s purposes were revealed. Jenelle was able to share the gospel with a Japanese grandmother who runs an antique shop in town. She invited us to drop by later in the day to see her store and pointed it out to Janelle on the way. So after lunch, we walked to her store.

We didn’t know her home was in the store.  She invited us in for afternoon tea and cookies.  We meet her husband Eugene and their dog named Bruna.   They were a delightful couple who savored the opportunity to practice their English. After an hour-long visit, we exchanged information and Jenelle returned the invitation the next time they visit Tokyo.

I realized as we left the store that we just experienced the first steps our Asian missionaries take in sharing Christ.  You begin conversations, you follow the normal cultural steps in relationship building, and you take every opportunity to its fullest extent. It was great to see that even on their brief retreat,  Tim and Jenelle’s desire is for these sweet people to know and follow Jesus.

Kevin Kolb on March 7th, 2018

At a checkpoint on an ancient Japanese trail.

Just a short blog to get everyone caught up on our journey. Blogging can be sporadic when traveling. Sometimes you don’t have wifi, sometimes you don’t have any time to put your thoughts together,  and sometimes you’re just wiped out.

After worship on Sunday, we hung out with the Chau family and visited China town in Singapore. On Monday, Emma, Ellie, and I were able to hang out together doing some shopping and having fun at Sentosa (a really fun part of downtown Singapore.) It was good to take a break and be “Dad” for a day.

On Tuesday we woke up at 3:00 am to catch at 6:30 flight to Tokyo. On the plane, I watched the movie “Darkest Hour”. I highly recommend it.  (I wiped tears at several points.) Best movie of the year.  I wish I could mobilize the English language like Churchill did, that’s for sure.

Missionaries Jim Smith and Tim McCown picked us up at the airport. It was great to see the McCown family and how well they are adjusting to life in Japan. Simon has grown a foot in a year. He is as tall as I am, and little Phoebe has found her personality. She is so bubbly and cute. After a brief tutorial on Japanese culture, we walked with the McCowns to a local restaurant for fresh sushi.

Crammed into an early morning commuter train. Find Issac if you can.

On Wednesday we woke up early and headed to a family resort area near Mt. Fuji with the McCowns. (Thanks to several in our church who gave special gifts to cover the cost for their family to get out of Tokyo and recharge.) After a great deal of travel on various forms of trains, my day ended with a welcomed dip in the onsen (Japanese hot tub).

Crossing a lake in the crater of Hakone volcano.

It is really good to hang out with this special family. They are making much progress with cultural adjustment and the language. Tonight at dinner Elisha received a compliment from the elderly hostess on his Japanese.

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you about the McCown’s life and ministry in Japan. But that’s all for now, and you are all caught up.

Mt. Fuji poked out from behind the clouds.

Kevin Kolb on March 4th, 2018

Victory Baptist Church, Singapore

When God is the focus, culture melts together. 

Tears filled my eyes as I stood in the back of the auditorium singing with Chinese, Indian, American and Filipino Christians.  In the front room of a common house on Hillside drive in the Serangoon district of Singapore, just over 20 people gathered to exalt the God of the ages.  Of course, God knew who would be there and he knew what would take place but he received glory from the heartfelt singing, the gracious offering, the prayers of confession and intercession, and the attention given to his Word.

They were hungry for the preaching.  We studied from Matthew 5 about Christ’s teaching on salt and light and the impact genuine Christians will have on society when they follow Christ’s law of love and demonstrate good deeds. After the service, I had the opportunity to answer sincere questions in private conversations as these believers thought about how they might apply the truth in their own life.  We shared a meal together.  It was fried chicken, slaw, biscuits and mashed potatoes from Texas chicken (sorry KFC, their biscuits were the best). One brother named Steven told me that fried chicken on Sunday was the 8th Baptist distinctive.

Sometimes we make worship so complex.  It can become such a production that we lose focus on God.  Please remember today and each day that Worship is simply a response of all that we are, body soul, and spirit, to all that God is, says and does.  If you lose sight of God – you lose the ability to worship.  So fly to him today and worship.  He will understand your heart no matter where you are or what culture you come from.

    

Kevin Kolb on March 4th, 2018

Born in Vietnam, Son came with his parents to the USA at the age of seven. He is thoroughly American.  Born in the USA, Stephanie came with her parents to Singaporean the age of eleven.  She is thoroughly Asian. They are an amazing couple uniquely suited for the work here in Singapore.

God has given them three children with distinct personalities who are more comfortable than their parents taking the mass transit. Toby (age 12) and Benji (age 9) took the train and made a bus connection to get home from the mall without their parents.

Son pastors the Victory Baptist Church which was started twenty-five years ago by Stephanie’s parents who are BIMI missionaries now serving in a restricted access country.  Many of the 18 current members of the church remember Stephanie as a preteen and are thankful she and her husband have answered the invitation to come and shepherd this flock.  Prior to the Chau’s arrival ten months ago the church had been through a couple of different pastors and several members got discouraged and left the church.  Son is now casting a vision to reach the community and trying to point the church to a brighter future.  They planned the first ever Easter egg outreach for the end of March and this month they are having a month-long missions emphasis.  In January, they launched The Andrew Project, which is a three-month challenge to the members to make one new friend whom they could bring to a fellowship meal and introduce them to other Christians.  There are several challenges that they face in this historic church but they are trying to make haste slowly for the gospel sake.  Much has been accomplished in their first ten months.  Son is witnessing to a Chinese young man who is close to accepting the Lord.  A young mother found the church and has attended four weeks in a row.  She said it was exactly the type of church she was looking for. Let’s pray that the church catches the burden of the great commission and compassion for the lost.  Please lift this family up in your prayers as they labor for souls in Singapore.

Son, Stephanie, Benji, Tobie, and Mandie Chau

Kevin Kolb on March 3rd, 2018

After a good nights rest in the churches prophets chamber, we got ready for a relaxing day in a very modern city.  As a relatively young nation, Singapore has burst on the world stage with a wonderful mass transit system, first-class seaport, top-ranked airport (which boasts a water park at the airport), a gorgeous skyline with amazing skyscrapers, numerous modern shopping malls, an Israeli trained military, and a very high percentage of millionaires.  This nation city is the envy of its neighbors in southeast Asia.  Singaporeans are very proud of what they’ve accomplished and they should be. They are a composite people of Chinese, Malay, and Indian descent.  Their government is nonreligious and strives to be pluralistic in its dealings with religion.  Keeping the peace among Hindus, Buddhist, Muslim, and Christians has been a key objective from the beginning.  What does all this mean for the gospel?  I really believe that the wealth of Singapore could fund the spread of the gospel to the entire region if they would catch that vision.

Heading out on visitation.

We walked over to the missionaries flat and enjoyed a comfortable breakfast before heading out for door to door visitation.  I have to say, I’ve never used an elevator that many times on visitation before.  We covered three buildings that had 16 floors each.  The reception is about like it is in the states when someone rings the doorbell but that didn’t stop this group of dedicated workers from inviting their neighbors to attend the only independent Baptist church in the area.

 

Benji (9 years old) celebrates winning Apples to Apples.

After lunch at the nearest food court, the girls and I returned to the church for an afternoon rest and to do laundry (lots of laundry).  The missionaries invited us over for dinner and fellowship on Saturday night.  What a blessing it was.  Game playing (Apples to Apples, Uno), joke telling, lots of laughter and NACHOS and Coke Zero made for a perfect evening.  There is something special I can’t explain that happens in that setting. I think the biblical word is KOINONIA, we call it Christian fellowship. There are few things in this life more precious.  It surpasses the glory of the city by far, and it makes me long for our heavenly home.

Kevin Kolb on March 3rd, 2018

Today we left Cambodia, the second of our four-nation tour.  We will arrive in Singapore and spend the weekend with the Chau family, first term BBFI missionaries.  Everyone asks us about jet lag.  I’m not sure if it is jet lag or just the pace that we are keeping, but we are feeling something.  We don’t want to stop.  Learning about the Lord’s work in each of these locations is exhilarating.   But when you combine the tropical heat, sleeping in different beds, eating different foods, communication in different languages, lugging 50 lb suitcases through airports and trying to pack as much in as possible, we are all feeling pretty fatigued.   I want to thank you for your prayers.

In Singapore, I will be privileged to speak in the church on Sunday and the girls will use their musical talent to sing and praise the Lord.  Pray that we will be a blessing to the Victory Baptist Church here in Singapore.

Here are a few photos of our trip so far.

Flying out of Chicago O’Hare

Ready for a long flight to Southeast Asia.

Trying lots of new food.

Sharing meals with our missionary friends.

Visiting interesting places.

Visiting a few old friends as well.

Going up river.

Shopping in local markets.

Participating in a Soccer ministry.

Visiting historic places.

Boarding another plane.

Attending school.

Making new friends.

Praying for a city. (Phnom Phen)

hanging out with the team.

Connecting with co-laborers.

Leaving Cambodia.

 

Kevin Kolb on March 2nd, 2018

Most missionaries have long figured out that going it completely alone it tough sledding.  Sharing the ministry load can help maximize the gospel’s impact.  We met Darwin and Olga who have just been installed as the camp leaders, Joanna who is working at the English school and Rosemarie who is starting a ladies outreach by teaching cosmetics to unskilled females so they can both hear the gospel and become employable. But someone has to direct the team.  In the capital of Cambodia, there is no question who leads this group of young Filipino missionaries, sent here from the Phillipino churches through Global Surge Clearinghouse.

Meet twenty-six-year-old Pastor Rasul Tungao.  He is a single, good-natured, humble servant with a passion for outreach.  He continually reminded us that the mission was to share the gospel with the Khmer people of Cambodia.  He has lived in the capital for three years now and assumed the leadership of the church after a brief internship.  When I asked him what class he enjoyed the most in seminary he quickly replied, “Leadership Principles”.  When I asked him what was the most challenging thing he faced as a leader he said, “Having the confidence to lead people who are so much older than me.”  The second greatest challenge was keeping everybody on the same page.  He leads a monthly staff meeting of all the Filipino missionaries and key volunteers

 

connected to his church plant.  The 2017 year-end meeting lasted six hours as they reviewed all the key stats for seven different ministry initiatives and then strategized for 2018.  Last night over dinner he told me about the home he grew up in, his salvation experience, call to ministry and some concerns he has for the future.

After spending 2 days with Rasul I developed a deep appreciation for the training he has received, the devotion he has to the Cambodian mission work, the unbelievable sacrifices

he regularly makes and the spirit by which he leads.  He has the respect of the team.  He works to maintain his integrity and the Lord is using him.  I found out today that he does it all on approximately $400.00 of support each month because he just lost $100.00 of support at the end of the year from a donor who had to cut back.   He handed me a prayer card as we said goodbye.  Here are the listed prayer requests:
1) Continued spiritual growth.
2) Expansion of the Gospel to this Buddhist nation.
3) Church planting in Cambodia.
4) Wisdom and effectiveness in leadership.
5) God’s provision, power, and protection.