Kurtis Kolb on August 4th, 2017

Tomorrow we are coming home.  Our desire and prayer is to be joyfully reunited with our families in 24 hours or less.

God is good all the time, but there are some moments in life when our minds comprehend that fact with more understanding and our eyes can see that truth with more clarity.  Yesterday and today the goodness of God has been displayed in so many ways.

Our team was so blessed to meet 11 new friends this week, and in just a few short days develop a love for them that caused us to sorrow when we had to say goodbye to them today.  We were so blessed to have met each and every one of them.  Most of them come from families who do not confess Christ.  But we shared the Gospel with them this week (multiple times), and most of them had heard the Gospel before and have a basic understanding.  We are praying for their salvation, desiring that God would snatch them from sinful death and fill them with the life of Christ.

Here is a summary of the activities that we shared with “our” kids at camp this week….. kickball, soccer, wiffle ball, football (Kevin Shepard taught them how to do a ‘touchdown dance’ when they scored), 3 ball kickball, dodgeball, sidewalk chalk art competitions, crafts, the salvation bracelet, bubble gum blowing bubble competitions, magic tricks, Can Jam, Spike Ball, Tug of war, and so much more.  Each day also consisted of a 30-minute lesson followed up by “Huddletime” where the lesson was reviewed and application questions were asked.  Each day we would also go over the Gospel using the Salvation Bracelets we made, and many of our GSM kids were able to share their story of salvation with the campers.  This camp opportunity was our main purpose in coming, and it is what required the most work.

But along the way, we went up to the top of the CN Tower https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CN_Tower, drove to Niagara Falls, visited an Islamic Mosque, had a 2-hour dinner with Missionary Hans, and drank lots of Tim Horton’s Coffee.

Each day was filled with lots of prayer, lots of grace and lots of love.  We learned how to follow others when we are not in charge of our own schedule, to work under pressure and be flexible, and how to play outside in the sun for 8 hours.

But the best way that the goodness of God was on display to us, was when we realized how privileged we are to know and worship the one, true and faithful God.  When we understood how many millions of people there are in the Greater Toronto Area who have no hope of a peaceful eternity in heaven, how many are deceived and blinded by a false religion.  But we are saved, we possess the righteousness of Christ, and there remains for us nothing to do to earn God’s favor.  God loves us based on the work of his Son.  Romans 3:21 There is righteousness apart from the law, the righteousness that comes thru faith in Jesus Christ.  And we are the privileged ones who know Christ and have received his righteousness.

This week we met a man who is so blinded to this wonderful truth.  And he is vainly working his ‘to heaven’ thru good deeds.  It was heart breaking to hear his story.  To know how close he was to the Gospel and that he rejected it.  In the end, his only hope is this, that his good works out weigh his wicked ones.  And that my brothers and sisters is no hope at all.      

I will leave you with the words of one of my favorite theologians….

We’ll forever praise his mercy and grace

Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace

‘Cause Christ took the curse in our place

Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace.

This is the goodness of God revealed to us this week.

Pastor Kurtis

Kurtis Kolb on August 2nd, 2017

Hi Friends,

Today we completed the third day of our Upwards Sports Toronto camp.  It was a long hot day.  The campers are tired, and so is our team.  But God is so good and so wonderful to his children.  He takes our feeble efforts and works and somehow uses them for his own glory.  I am not sure how or why he uses the work of tired and weak human hands, but he does.  And I am thankful for that.

I believe that the greatest work that God does during a missions trip is in the hearts and lives of those who go on the trip. Missionaries may benefit, buildings may be built, food donated, flyers handed out, evangelism may take place, and sports camps may be run, but in the final analysis, it is the participants whom I believe receive the greatest blessings.

God is working in our hearts today.  For some, it is a challenge to firmly know that they believe what they say they believe.  For others, God continually is giving them circumstances that they cannot control (but they so wish they could), and he challenges them to trust him and work towards an outcome that they cannot see and is not guaranteed.  Still, for others of us, God uses trips like this to expose our weaknesses and prevent us from keeping some sins hidden.

Missions trips can expose in us a shallow biblical obedience, a high view of self, a disdain for others (especially those that are different), and a lightweight theology.  When God exposes these types of things in a person on a mission trip, he often does it in a manner that involves trip teammates.  In some ways, this can cause difficulty and tension, but also God can cause this to strengthen a person or people and to solidify a friendship.

Missions trips remind us of the necessity of evangelism, of how many don’t know Christ and with how very few people we ever share the good news of Jesus Christ.  And it exposes a hypocrisy that exists in many of us, that we are willing to tell someone of Christ when we are far from home, but often unwilling to share the gospel in our everyday environment and community.

Missions trips reveal how much of your ‘normal’ life you spend on yourself, and how much time you waste, and how little of yourself you pour out as an offering to the Lord.  How much can be accomplished when one is away from the television and the computer.  How much more preferred personal relationships are than digital ones.

While we are serving 11 unsaved students between the ages of 7-15, we are the ones that God is challenging, testing, and probing.  We are the ones coming away with a desire to know God more and to drink of his Word deeply.  We are the ones who understand that our prayer lives can be so shallow and that in a world of great darkness we must cry out to our Father more.

I ask myself if this city will even know that Grace Student Ministries was here this week? Will the light of Christ shine any brighter in Toronto because we came? I don’t know, but I hope and believe it will in St. Charles.

Pastor Kurtis



Kurtis Kolb on July 31st, 2017

Hey, friends, it’s Emma.

Today was a good day. I could give you a million reasons why, but here are just a few:

  1. Camp ran smoothly – Being fully honest, I was pretty nervous about what was going to happen today. No one on the team has ever been involved with an Upward Sports camp! We knew a rough outline of what was supposed to happen, but it was rough. (Personally speaking, the planner in me has been stretched and definitely grown because of this!) As a team, we are grateful to God for His care in how today went.
  2. God changed our plans – Maybe changed isn’t the right word. I guess I should say things were just different than we expected. We had six kids show up for the camp. Six isn’t very many when there are over twelve leaders. But God brought us some very sweet kids, who are very open to talking and engaging with us. Most of them have attended previous sports camps this summer. Praise the Lord, the kids were able to explain the salvation bracelets almost on their own! Seeing only six kids was very humbling, but seeds have been planted already, and we’re excited to hopefully continue share Truth with them.
  3. God is unifying our team – Already there have been multiple occasions where God has allowed us to grow together as a team. Playing sports all day, thinking through what needs to be done for the next day, and just being around eleven other personalities really can irritate a person. But God has given us sound leadership and good attitudes. We are praising Him for that!

So, there you go, a few reasons why today was a good day. God is good all the time, friends. And He is proving himself good in Toronto.

Em 🙂

Kurtis Kolb on July 30th, 2017

Hi friends. The Lord blessed us with a wonderful trip yesterday. The day was uneventful, and traveling in the new van was indeed a blessing.

This morning we are worshipping with Middle East Baptist Church. This evening we will have our orientation meeting with the missionary we are working with, Hans.

Please pray for us, your brothers and sisters, by name… Kurtis, Kevin and Alecia, Abbi, Jena, Jo, Abby, Claudia, Corrin, Emma, Maddie, and Obi. Pray that God would do a mighty and powerful work in our hearts, that our eyes would be open to the need of the Gospel in all of the world and to all of the various people groups in the world. Pray that we would be humble and hardworking servants of the King. Pray that God would use us to share the Gospel with some who have not heard.

I love you, church. And I await our return to you with joy to report what God has done.

Pastor Kurtis

Brian O'Grady on April 23rd, 2017

It was brought to my attention that the Amsterdam posts never concluded the trip. Tonight we met together as a team for a final time to enjoy home made pizza, share pictures and discuss the trip.

Speaking for the team, I want to thank each person that prayed for us, helped us financially, and provided items to take over to the O’Grady’s. The time spent with this missionary family was as much an encouragement to our team as we were hopefully to them.

While in Amsterdam we were able to experience worshipping together with a newly formed church that is less than 3 months old. We were able to be part of a Missional Community evening sharing a meal in a home and visiting with people from many different cultures. At one point during the evening people from five different countries were sitting at the table enjoying conversation. We visited church buildings that have been open since the late 1500’s, saw art from some of the most famous artists in the world and attempted to try to adjust to a new culture by participating in a scavenger hunt requiring us to find things a missionary would need their first weeks in a new culture.

One of the great parts of our trip, was the perspective of building relationships and the need to be intentional in sharing the Gospel. We see a little clearer the people around us that we can have an impact on for the Gospel if we purposefully strive to be an integral part of their lives.

In closing we shared a note this evening that the missionary sent specific to our team but can be applied to any mission trip. “When considering what you wanted to do when you got back, think about the “WHY” before the “What”. It is easy to come back from a mission trip with a list full of “What I Should Do.” But we need to solidify the “Why”. Why do I want to do these things? Why are they important? Why did I not do them before? When we biblically answer the “Why’s” in our heart, the biblical “What’s” will more naturally and consistently occur.”

Thank you from this mission team for the many ways you supported and encouraged us on this trip.


Brian O'Grady on April 6th, 2017

For our final two full days in the country, we experienced the Dutch culture and missionary life from different perspectives. Wednesday started out with a bus ride out to Keukenhof to see where over 10 million tulips have been planted and are coming into full bloom. The tulip crop is in the top 10 of export revenue for the country. Returning to the city in the afternoon, the team ventured out on a canal cruise, viewing buildings that were built before America was a country. The evening topped off with a wonderful dinner at Amsterdam Café providing a more traditional Dutch menu.


Thursday started with an amazing look at Dutch art and culture. We visited the Rijk’s Museum which opened its doors in 1800 and includes the largest library for Art history in the world. We viewed paintings from Rembrandt, VanGough, Vermeer and others. It was truly incredible to see these world famous paintings, including depictions from the Bible. We stopped for lunch and had traditional Dutch pancakes with ingredients like apple, cheese, bacon, onions, or mushrooms. Following lunch our missionaries gave us a list of items and sent us out to experience normal life. It took 2 teams of 5 people working together over an hour to complete their list of 10 simple things that could have been purchased at a Walmart in less that 10 minutes. The realizations of adjusting to a different culture (and in this case with no car for transportation between stores) really hit home. The evening wrapped up with dinner at the O’Gradys and time spent sharing personal “take aways” from the trip. Corey helped us talk through the needs we can look for and deliberately be a part of in our own missional community.


The week concludes a great time spent with Corey, Kaylee, Lyla and Eloise. We appreciated the opportunity to love on this wonderful family. The team enjoyed the several chances we had to spend time with the members of Grace Church Amsterdam in worship and fellowship. We also received a clearer view of missions from the perspective of a missionary family. Please join us during the service Sunday evening as we share pictures, videos and take time to report back on the trip.


We will be traveling tomorrow (Friday) and ask for your prayers as we fly from Amsterdam to Chicago and take the vans back to St. Charles.


Brian O'Grady on April 4th, 2017

     The week started out very busy. On Monday, Chris Harris’s step counter registered over 19,000 steps.   No one on the team complained, especially considering we were being led by 6 month pregnant Kaylee. The morning began with the men and women each going to different restaurants for breakfast. This provided opportunity for us to discuss what Amsterdam ministry life is like in a much more personal setting. After breakfast, the two groups walked together to the Amsterdam City Museum. The museum gave the group a brief history of Amsterdam, and explained the influences which have made it the city that it is today. When our time at the city museum was over, we had the opportunity to explore Amsterdam together before enjoying dinner downtown.


     On Tuesday, we visited the city of Haarlem. This city is located just outside of Amsterdam, and is home to the Corrie Ten Boom house and museum. We were privileged to receive a tour of the Ten Boom house from a member of Grace Church Amsterdam. She told us of Corrie’s belief in the gospel, and how that belief influenced every aspect of her life. Later that day, we visited St. Bavo’s Church. This is the church that the Ten Boom family would have attended prior to World War II. It is the oldest church in Haarlem, and is referenced in history as early as 1307. Upon returning to Amsterdam, the team had dinner at the O’Grady’s apartment with members of their community group as well as other members of Grace Church Amsterdam. It was wonderful to see our group engage with the people from all over the world who call Grace Church Amsterdam their home.




Brian O'Grady on April 2nd, 2017

This morning was spent worshipping at Grace Church Amsterdam. We had the opportunity to fellowship with the church before the service. The worship through music was awesome, and we enjoyed a great message from Luke 23:1-25.

After lunch today several walked around the area for the afternoon.  Jo, Megan, and Chris went into an antique bookstore and had an hour long discussion with the owner about Anne Frank and her journals. The owner then gave them a tour of Anne Frank’s first house, which was located next door. They also saw gold stones on the sidewalk in this area remembering over 14,000 Jews, from a community of 17,000, that were captured and killed in the WWII concentration camps.

A wonderful dinner prepared by Kaylee O’Grady was followed by a little fun watching team members riding the “bakfiets” (box bike) down the street.

The evening concluded with a relaxing time with the O’Gradys as we discussed ministry in Amsterdam, missions in Europe, and missions where ever we are.


Brian O'Grady on April 2nd, 2017

Praise the Lord.  We appreciate all your prayers. The team and luggage arrived in Amsterdam on schedule. We were able to get through all the connections and customs with no problems. The weather was great for flying. A special thanks to Nathan and Doug for driving us to Chicago.

The first day was spent getting through customs, checking into the hotel, and delivering the generous food gifts. Finishing dinner early provided for us to get some much needed rest after being up for over 36 hours.

The day will start out with us worshipping with Grace Church Amsterdam. This will be a great opportunity for the team to be a part of a baby church in Europe worshipping our Lord.

Later tonight we will post again with pictures.

Brian O'Grady on March 30th, 2017

The GBC Amsterdam Mission team is less than 24 hours from departure to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Perhaps most have already packed and are checking their To Do list for the second time. Some of us may not start packing until tonight. Either way we head out from Grace Baptist Church at 6:30 Friday morning on the first leg of our travels. Please pray for us as we drive to Chicago, get on a flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul and from there at around 7:30pm depart for Amsterdam. We should arrive around 10:50 Saturday morning (3:50am CST). We have a full week planned with our missionaries, the O’Grady’s, including a worship service at Grace Church Amsterdam, an evening with a Community Group, and a scavenger hunt for items the missionaries need.

We will be posting activities throughout the week. Please keep this team of 10 in your prayers.