A Testimony from Frank Kohler
Brothers and sisters,
I am so delighted to be in partnership with you in this gospel work! Not only do we aspire to be stronger together, but we are showing signs of one-another ministry. Below is a testimony from our brother in Christ, Frank Kohler.
In chapter 3 of Dave Harvey’s book Stronger Together, we read, “Commitment and collaboration are central to society’s health. They’re fundamental to what it means to be healthy image bearers who are created for eternity” (p. 81). A good synonym for collaboration in the context of his book is “community.” Of course, community may be so overused that its stupendous facets—real koinonia--are lost in the usage. It is mostly a noun, but sometimes we talk about being “in community” with one another, probably the closest to a verb we can get with the word, unless we slip back to the verb “to commune.” To collaborate, on the other hand, is largely used as a verb form, and this is how Harvey uses it in his book.
Perhaps I appreciated this chapter because I know what it is to BE ALONE. Spending ten months in prison was the loneliest time of my life. Alone, in that one has no physical advocate, no personal support system to turn to, and there is perpetual wonder about what surprising turn among prison relationships will happen the next day, or even the next hour or minute. But I had the Lord Jesus Christ, and He was at work! I found Christians in prison with whom to fellowship, with whom to study the Bible, and with whom to chat on a somewhat secure level—in such a secure place, you never truly know security.
But I knew many churches were praying for me daily. Recently, a boy with Down’s Syndrome told me he prayed for me daily. His parents said my name was brought before the Lord at every mealtime and also in their family devotions. Praise the Lord, what a blessing!
After the first 45 days, letters started pouring in—the mail-person told me he could not recall any prisoner getting as much mail as I received. In one day I received 18 cards and letters, and more than 200 over the ten months inside. These came from every Canadian province except Quebec and Newfoundland, and from Maine, Florida, Georgia, and even from Scotland. I felt commitment and collaboration from so many people. Two people wrote to me one letter per week, and they were not aware of each other’s commitment to that. Every letter brought words of encouragement and hope in a dark place. In all their busyness, our Regional president, Andrew Swanson, and past president, Steve Adams, wrote letters, and most surprising to me, our Fellowship president wrote letters to me in prison. With probably thousands of pastors and full-time workers in his sphere of care, Steve Jones took the time to hand-write notes of encouragement. Humbling! Commitment and collaboration at work.
And after ten months being away and receiving from Corrections Canada the privilege of coming straight home from prison—no half-way house experience—friends of ours insisted they drive Judy to Dorchester to pick me up on the cold, snowy day of my release. And when we drove onto our street in beautiful Lake Echo, there were 8-10 cars lined up, with people standing outside their cars (in COVID times), welcoming me home, with dozens of yellow ribbons tied around a tree in our front yard. Commitment and collaboration. Thank you, Pastor Doug.
Now I know what the writer, Dave Harvey, was saying was for a broader commitment and collaboration than this: men and women, leaders and churches coming together for larger Christian efforts and purposes beyond our own little pet peeves of biblical concepts and theology, and beyond our personal preference of styles of worship, and beyond our church cliques. However, the illustration I have given from my own life speaks about the DNA of commitment and collaboration in our little lives and in the bigger picture of churches and communities. We’ve seen it in Quick-Builds, in conferences, and other special events over the years, but let’s keep it going and build on it. Dave Harvey’s Stronger Together is a good book, even though cumbersome reading at times. Let us give cause for our Saviour to smile.
Thank you, Frank, for sharing this testimony. May God bless us and help us as we continue to grow in this area.