A much younger Pastor Kolb visits with Ethiopian Missionaries in 2010

A much younger Pastor Kolb visits with Ethiopian Missionaries in 2010

What a joy it is to partner with other pastors and missionaries who associate with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. I grew up in a BBFI church and I have always been associated with a BBFI church. (That doesn’t mean the BBFI is the best or only baptist group God is using, it simply means it is what I’m most familiar with.) As someone who is a product of BBFI schools and churches, I look for opportunities to give back to the movement.

One of the most enjoyable opportunities of service afforded to me has been that of serving the BBFI as a Field Representative. I have had the privilege of serving as a Field Representative for over twelve years, serving missionaries in Cuba, Haiti, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan. In the fall of 2013 I was asked to serve as a representative for the six missionaries who minister in Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. A Field Representative is selected by the Mission Director (John Konnerup), after receiving recommendations from the missionaries. They serve a three year term.

A Field Representative can aid the mission office and mission directors in a number of ways. They assist the mission office at national fellowship meeting by attending and participating in the missions business meetings, serve as an advisory council to the mission director, interview and recommend missionary candidates for approval, and review and approve any field changes of current BBFI missionaries.

But I have always viewed the primary task of a Field Representative as serving the missionaries that minister on the foreign field. We serve the missionary by corresponding with them and remaining available to them, by sharing their prayer needs with other pastors at state and local meetings, by helping the newly approved missionaries as they try to raise their support, by raising funds for special projects, and by visiting them on their field of service at least once during the three year term to let them know they are appreciated and to encourage them in the work they are doing.

While some missionaries host a number of pastors and mission teams every year, other missionaries rarely receive the opportunity to show their work first hand to a supporting pastor or hear the informed words “thank you for all you are doing” while sitting in their own living room. I came to understand the impact of my physical presence first hand on a short trip to Ethiopia in 2010. A veteran missionary said to me with tears in his eyes that I was the first representative of the BBFI to ever come to his country for the express purpose of letting him know he was appreciated. While I may never know the full affect of my presence during that brief stay, I do know it opened up new opportunities for profitable dialogue and helped forge deeper connections with some missionaries who often feel isolated and forgotten. Just last month one of the missionaries who hosted me on that trip four years ago, emailed me to ask for some insight on a difficult situation he was facing in his church.  Those trips have also helped me understand the in’s and out’s of everyday missionary life a little better.  They have informed my prayer life and have helped me equip our own members (Tim and Janelle McCowns) for what they will experience when God calls them to serve on a foreign field.

It took a little bit of planning, but I’ve finally been able to confirm a trip to visit with the six missionaries families in Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore which I currently represent.  Traveling to three different nations in one trip will be a new experience for me and adds a level of complexity but makes the most sense financially and impacts my own family and church responsibilities the least.  I’m happy to announce that my travel companion is my oldest daughter Emma.  She has raised her own fare and, thanks to some generous donations, all her costs have been covered to date.  We are both looking forward to experiencing these cultures for the first time together.  We are also looking forward to finding ways we can minister as a team (did you think Emma would sing with me?) .

Ministry Team headed to Southeast Asia.

Ministry Team headed to Southeast Asia.

Please pray for us as we prepare mentally, physically and spiritually for this ministry excursion. Pray that we will be an encouragement to the Crawford and Quinlan families in Indonesia, the Crocker and Moore families in Singapore, and the Salmon and Speight families in Thailand.  If you would like to provide a special offering which we can use to encourage these families (edifying books and small gifts) note the donation on your offering envelope and we will see to it that these six families are blessed by your donation.    Our departure is getting close (Dec. 29th), we are getting excited, many last minute details still need to be resolved.  We covet your prayers.