On Sunday we were privileged to participate in the fifth anniversary celebration of the church in Queztal. Jerry Kinman is the lead pastor of this church but he has a staff of three Guatemalan men who help him by serving in various ways. Lord willing one of these men will assume the pastorate within the next two years. Our family was honored to participate in this special celebration. On Saturday we helped decorate the auditorium, hallways and fellowship hall with streamers and balloons. We also helped aunt Karen bake and frost two big sheet cakes. On Sunday Emma and Ellie were able to sing the song “Jesus Thank You.” in Spanish. They did an excellent job and have very good harmony. I was able to preach while Jerry translated.
I preached from Col 1:24-29 and encouraged them to ask five diagnostics questions of their church to make sure they wouldn’t “break down” as they continue their journey as a church. The Lord gave me the analogy of the city bus system. I asked them how many have been on a bus when it broke down. Literally everyone in the room raised their hands. We all agreed that the riders have a right expectation that the owners of the bus do regular maintenance in order to provide reliable transportation. I told the church that people who come to your church from the community will also expect their church to do regular check up to make sure they don’t stall along the way. The five areas to check were from the passage were: 1) Their motivation. 2) Their Message 3) Their methods 4) Their mission, and 5) Their means. (The alliteration works in English but not in Spanish). Paul reveled that his motivation was the reveal the mystery to the Gentiles. His message was Christ is the only hope. His methods was balanced proclamation. His mission was to help people be like Jesus and his means was the power of Christ which was already working in him. Several in the room were encouraged by the message. The analogy to the Guatemalan bus system helped me connect the truth to an audience I was unfamiliar with.
Prior to the message I presented Brother Jerry with a stone that Brian O’Grady took from the property seven year earlier. I told Jerry that this stone reminded us to pray for the church that would one day be built on that sight. But now we no longer need that stone because it is “dead”. Now that we have visited the church we have meet the “living” stones (the people according to 1 Peter 2: 5). We can not forget the dear people of this church who have come to Christ and are struggling to mature and do the Great Commission in a difficult place. In the message I told them that my prayer for the church will shift. No longer will I pray that God will establish a church on the property. From now I will pray that God will mature the church that gathers on that property.
After the sermon and invitation the church sang happy birthday in English and Spanish and then enjoyed a meal together. My girls helped Aunt Karen pass out anniversary cake to the 160 in attendance.
The last couple of days have provided our family the opportunity to really enjoy much of Guatemala’s natural beauty. We have spent time relaxing in Panajachel, travelling across the highland lake A’titlan, enjoying a coffee, herbal and textile tour in San Jaun La Leguna, exploring the ruins of Iximche near Tecpan and hiking up an active volcano near Guatemala city named Pacaya. These many adventures have given the family opportunities to learn about the history of the Mayan people and understand what makes ministry in this place both rewarding and challenging.
The time spent with aunt Karen has been a real joy. She has shown us the people and country that she loves and demonstrated a high level of competence in many things (her language and driving skills are superb). She is not only sharing her time, but more importantly her heart. I love my sister and I’m very proud of her and the work that she is doing for the Lord. In so many ways I can see how God has equipped her for the ministry here in Guatemala.
Doing these tourist type activities have helped set the stage for a busy weekend of ministry. Over the next couple of days we will spend time in another orphanage, participate in kids clubs, attend Quetzal’s fifth anniversary celebration service, fellowship with the church in Sumpango, and experience a manna feeding center. The indoctrination of the last couple of days have helped set the stage for these ministry activities. Please pray that we will see what God wants to show us and serve with his love.
Psalm 8:5 – You have crowned him with glory and honour…
On my first trip to Guatemala in 2009 we visited the orphanage called “New Life” in Solola near lake Atitlan. My heart was saddened with the reality that these beautiful and precious babies would not have the opportunity to be adopted by foreigners because the adoption laws in Guatemala had recently changed. Those laws are still in place seven years later, and those babies have now grow into 8 year old children. Sadly many are still living in the orphanage.
This reality was both my high and low for the day. The low was that a young boy named Kevin had lived all his life in an orphanage never having the opportunity for adoption. He is a bright, well-behaved, and kind young man. My sister told him that I had come to the orphanage when he was a baby and held him. The high was that this young boy has been loved on and so well cared for by the staff of this christian orphanage. The director has a loving heart for the children and does a fantastic job with his staff of 16 caring for the 41 children who call this orphanage home. The facility and property is absolutely beautiful. The love of Christ was displayed all over the property through the excellent private elementary school (which enrolls over 120 kids from the town and orphanage), a manna feeding center which feeds poor neighborhood children once a day five days a week (over 50 kids each day), by providing summer camp facilities to many churches in the month of December and of course at the orphanage. The orphanage even cares for 8 children who are disabled. Their newest arrival came a week earlier when she was just ten days old.
The christian ethic of human dignity teaches us that all lives matter because they are created in the image of God. The missionaries and staff of this orphanage live out this ethic every day in a 1000 different way. I’m thankful I was able to come back, find Kevin, and show my own children what Christians mean when we say that “all lives matter to God.”
The alarm clock went off way too early. By 3:30 am the family was dressed and loaded for the drive to the airport for an early morning flight. The three youngest enjoyed their first plane ride today. I asked Zeke what his high was for the day. It was the take offs. I asked Evie what her high was for the day . For her it was the landings. After a quick breakfast at the the McDonalds in the Atlanta terminal we boarded the flight to Guatemala. Immigration and customs was a breese and all our bags came through undisturbed. We stepped into the sunshine appreciative for the uneventful first leg of the journey. Heidi and I are thankful for all your prayers for our family’s safe arrival. The Lord certainly blessed us with a calm day.
After rapidly unpacking at Karen’s house, we ventured out for dinner at the Kinmens home. As I type this tucked comfortably in bed, I’m again struck by how necessary a good, safe, reliable home is for our missionaries serving abroad. Jerry and Mindy have lived in the same home for ten years this month. Stability for our missionary families is greatly aided when they know where they are going to pillow their head year in and year out. Missionary homes provide space for kids, pets, dinner parties, prayer groups, and overnight guests. Today two Guatemalan missionaries have shared their homes with the Kolb tribe. Yummy Tacos at one, and a hot shower and comfy bed at the other, blessed fellowship enjoyed at each. Tonight I have more than one reason to be thankful for our missionaries homes.
Before you close this page, think about the last time you used your home for the purpose of christian hospitality and fellowship. If it has been a while, why not talk to your spouse and then engage your family with a hospitality challenge. Invite someone over for tacos or homeade pizza and use your home as a blessing to others.
Soon after Heidi and I announced to our children that we would be travelling to Guatemala on a mission trip to visit their aunt, my son was in the back seat of my car and spotted an airplane way up in the sky. He asked as any seven year old who has never flow in a plane before logically would… “Dad is that the plane we are going to fly on?”
God has provided a way for me to take my family on a missions trip to Guatemala. Heidi and I, along with a group of about 20 from our church, traveled there to visit some friends in 2009. We are looking forward to going back. Karen (my sister and missionary) and I have planned a full itinerary with ministry opportunities occurring just about every day. I’ll be blogging throughout our trip to keep you abreast of what God is revealing to us about His love for the Mayan people.
You can pray for me that I will not be so task oriented that I forget to actually lead my family closer to God in the adventure. You can pray for my family to be safe, healthy and aware of the new realities they will be faced with when they step off the airplane. Processing God’s great big diverse world will be a challenge for them in many ways. Specifically I’m praying that God uses this trip to open up in their hearts a new found understanding of missions and grow their desire to serve others. I’m very thankful that my sister has taken time out of her busy ministry schedule to host us. Please ask God to give us wonderful fellowship with her, Jerry and Mindy Kinman and the rest of team Guatemala.
Last night my son got his binoculars out of his top dresser drawer. I asked him, “What are those for?” He said, “to look out the window of the airplane…” I’ll let you know how that works out on our upcoming airplane ride.
Already counting my blessings,
Thursday was one long day. Emma and I were in route back to St. Louis for over 25 hours. It was good that our last flight from Chicago to St. Louis was the shortest leg, because our excitement to get back to our family was boiling over. They were as excited to see us, as we them. We spent most of Friday relaxing and reconnecting, trying to get over jet lag. We are both excited to share with the church what God did on our trip. Emma will be giving a short report to the teens Sunday morning and I will give a report Sunday night. I’m looking forward to being back in the service with the Grace family this Sunday.
I believe God really used the trip for our good and His glory. I hope that the ministries of all six missionaries we visited will be renewed in their purpose and refreshed by our visit. The Lord has certainly increased my heart for His work in that region. My prayer life has been affected. Our bonds have been strengthened. I pray that the refrain so often seen in the book of Acts will ring true once again, only this time in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, “as they went through the cities… the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily” Acts 16:4-5.
There is joy in serving Jesus as I journey on my way.
Joy that fills my heart with praises every hour and every day.
There is joy in serving Jesus as I walk alone with God
Tis the joy of Christ my Saviour who the path of suffering trod
There is joy, joy, joy in serving Jesus, Joy that throbs within my heart
Every moment every hour, As I draw upon His pow’r
There is joy, joy, joy that never shall depart.
This song sung (in English and Indonesian) by the youth choir at the First Independent Baptist Church of Indonesia summarized the feeling I had as I pillowed my head Sunday night. It was quite an exhausting day of service, but my heart was so full of joy I could hardly fall asleep.
The day started early as I got ready and looked over my sermon notes. I tried to think about what illustrations could be used in this culture to relate the truth I believed God wanted me to share. I was a little unsure so I explained to Nancy Quinlan at breakfast if the Indonesians used a coffee filter to make coffee. I’m glad I asked because she said most Indonesian homes did not have a coffee maker, but she thought it would be great if I used that illustration in the sermon. She said they like to learn about the way westerners do things, and because her husband Larry loves black coffee. The coffee most Indonesians drink is an instant brew (no coffee pot is required.) She found a small single serve coffee maker and packed it away for use in the message. We headed out the door loaded with food items for the special lunch that the church was having, because they were hosting Emma and I as their special guests. We arrived at Larry’s work, the Perumnas Independent Baptist Church of Indonesia to find Sunday School already under way. (This church is a newer work that the Quinlans are working at to help bring to maturity and sustainability). It was great to hear the kids singing as we walked in the building. Most of the adults began arriving around 9:00 for the 9:30 service. After some great singing, testimonies, special musical numbers and offering, Emma and I were introduced to the church. Emma sang a wonderful song titled “Grace and Peace” and then it was my turn to serve the Lord and preach His Word. I brought a message titled “The How of Holiness” from Romans 6 and Matt. 5. I used the coffee pot illustration to show that the Lord wants us to change not just what is in our cup (sinful actions) but what is in the filter (heart desires). The illustration worked! It helped keep attention and connect the spiritual point. I praise the Lord how the Spirit enabled this American pastor to speak to Indonesian hearts the truth that he desired them to hear.
The church honored us with a meal and with many group and individual photos. I get emotional when I think about how close the connection with believers from different cultures can become in such a short period of time. The separation of language is no match for the love of Christ. I’m not sure when I’ll see these dear people again but, I’m thankful I was able to worship with them and observe their joy in serving Jesus.
In the evening we drove to the First Independent Baptist Church of Indonesia and at the request of Pastor Marcos, Emma and I again had the opportunity to sing and preach like we did in the morning.
This church is a solid work, fully autonomous and led by a wonderful servant of the Lord. Pastor Marcos was saved out of Islam over fifty years ago, gave up a lucrative job in banking to assume the pastorate of the church over thirty years ago, and is one of the solid leaders of the Independent Baptist movement in Indonesia. The Lord again blessed His Word giving even greater fluidity in the English to Indonesian translation than in the morning. I’m so thankful for Brother Larry’s ability with the language. After the service one young man told me that he had committed to take some “radical steps” to gain victory over sin in his life. It was a joy to serve this church by proclaiming truth from the Word. Again, we were honored with a time of photo taking and a special meal. The graciousness of Pastor Marcos and his wife was a tremendous blessing (and example) to us.
Now here is the kicker: at both churches, the new church plant and the well established one, a man in the congregation came up to me and said something like this in broken English, “Pastor Kolb, it was an honor to have you at our church, please accept this as a token of our appreciation for your service to us today,” and then they handed me an envelope. I was stunned! I had no expectation of an honorarium; I did not want one, or feel like I deserved one. But in that moment I realized what I had to do; I had to receive the gift. Why? Because, I did not want to steal from them their joy in serving Jesus.
I’m so thankful for the opportunity to experience the work of the Lord here in Indonesia. What I have witnessed this weekend is the answer to prayers I’ve prayed for several years. God is working here in this country. I believe exciting opportunities for the gospel to make in roads are not too far away. This country still needs more missionaries with the heart and passion for Indonesia like Tom Crawford and Larry Quinlan. Would you pray with me that God would lay it on someone’s heart to come here and help advance the work. If you are praying about missions, I wish you could have heard the young people singing…
There is joy, joy, joy in serving Jesus, Joy that throbs within my heart
Every moment every hour, As I draw upon His pow’r
There is joy, joy, joy that never shall depart.
The Quinlans (Larry and Nancy) had the Crawfords (Tom and Janice) come to their house to join us for dinner Saturday evening. The meal was great. Chicken Parmesan, veggies and wonderful garlic bread. But the real joy was sitting around the table discussing the work of God in Indonesia (past, present, and future). The conversation never really died down. We went from one topic to the other with ease. I asked some questions but mainly listened to two really good, really faithful missionaries share their thoughts with me about Indonesia. I thought I’d let you in on some of the topics.
- We discussed how God enables the missionary to do what he is called to.
- We discussed how the Lord called them to Indonesia and later confirmed that call.
- We discussed what obstacles they have faced and are currently facing.
- We discussed why many missionaries come off the field.
- We discussed why Indonesia is not “on the map” of most in the BBFI.
- We discussed what could be done to put it on the map and draw attention to the need.
- We discussed team missions and the prospect of getting younger missionary interns to Indonesia.
- We discussed raising kids on the mission field.
It was a blessing. I believe the Lord used it to set the stage for a great week here in Indonesia.
As Emma finished introducting her song with the aid of translation by missionary Nancy Quinlan and walked over to the pinao to sing, Larry Quinlan leaned over to me and said, “you have to be very proud of your daughter.” I could hardly answer back as my throat was getting a little choked up and my eyes were getting ready to be wet (with tears). Yes I’m very proud of all my children but this trip has given me the opportunity to appreciate some things about my oldest that I may not have noticed under “normal” conditions. I’ll save the specifics for her when she wakes up, but for now I just want to send all those who supported my daughter and prayed for her while she was on this trip a few recent photos so that you can see her in action. She has been a tremendous blessing to her father, the missionaries and the nationals she has interacted with. Thanks to all who have invested in her. God has used her for good and I think He is very proud of her as well.
WOW! What an unbelievable thing it was to stand up on a Saturday morning and see sixty plus Christian servants sitting at attention, eager to hear what the Bible has to say about warning and admonishing each other in the church. I prayed that God would help Larry and I to develop a good cadence as he translated my words into the Indonesian language. I had previously sent him my notes which he translated for a handout the day before, so the material was pretty familiar to him. I did stump him a couple times (the word restore means to set a broken bone, Gal 6:1). He did not know the word for setting a bone in Indonesian. Apparently his kids never had any accidents when they lived here. Other than that, It went very well.
I used the white board to explain the theological pyramid, and I drew an illustration explaining progressive sanctification. Rather than copy the illustrations onto their own paper many of the younger students took out their phones and took a picture of the white board once I was done drawing. (What really blew me away concerning the use of technology in Asia was the young man in Singapore who typed a text message of my entire watch night sermon while I was speaking and sent it out to the church list just minutes after I concluded!!! … now back to “Why Counsel”) The group was hungry for the truth. We took a break about an hour or so into the material. There was a buzz in the room.
We ate some sweet, green doughy snack with coconut in the middle (YUM!) and got right back to teaching.
The second part was an explanation of Paul’s philosophy of ministry from Colossians 1. It reiterated much of the same material from the first hour, but gave us a chance to restate and re-emphasize the principles from the Bible. That is always a good thing. We ended right at 12:00 p.m., because many of those in the crowd had ministries that they were responsible for that Saturday afternoon, but the sponsoring pastor wanted us to take the time for Q & A. So for the next half hour, several good questions were asked.
What a joy this time was. Larry and Nancy later told me how helpful the material was. It was a joy to share with others truths that have helped my ministry, even if it was in a different culture. Ministry is ministry, it has a way of transcending culture. I often forget that people’s problems are the same around the world, and the Bible is really the only source for any lasting help or hope. Why Counsel? Because we have the answers in God’s Word, no matter what language it is printed in. That is what we celebrated on Saturday morning. We then went back to Larry and Nancy’s home and took a nice long nap.