We are delighted to share our chat with Kelly and Kathy Kosky as they open their hearts and home (virtually) to take us with them on a journey down memory lane and impart nuggets of wisdom and insight regarding life on the mission field. If you have nothing but God, you have everything you need to execute your assignment in the earth excellently and successfully. 

To this, the Kosky’s are a living testimony and a true example. If your heart is beating for the mission field, or if you ever wonder “what can I do to reach the lost”, this is the conversation you cannot miss. Grab a cup of coffee and join us as we chat to Kelly and Kathy Kosky.

Rev. Kelly Kosky. You and your wife Kathy have done so much in your lifetime. Amongst your many achievements; various universities, sailed across the Pacific ocean, were the financial advisor to the Governor. Established one of the most successful and unique Bible colleges in Africa. Became a snow ski instructor, built and ran the Grace Children’s Center in the Eastern Cape. You were a University instructor, established a major HIV/AIDS project in the Western Cape. Cycled around Europe and raised six successful children in rural Africa. You have such a diverse and interesting background so I am unsure where to begin. Suppose it would be best to start at the beginning. Please tell us about your childhood and younger years. 
I was born in Canada to immigrant Jewish parents. My grandfather was the Rabbi at the Orthodox Synagogue in Toronto. I grew up going to Hebrew school and was bar mitzvah at Temple Beth Torah at age 13, but soon after I left the Jewish faith and entered my very rebellious years. During my teen years, I got into a lot of trouble and was ultimately incarcerated for six months. It was sobering me for me, and I began to consider what I wanted my life to look like. I felt that I wanted to do something bigger than myself. I applied myself to academics and sports. After finishing high school, I received various undergraduate degrees at San Diego State University and went on to do graduate studies at UCLA, in California. Our website has a lot more information about Kathy and I, and our life in Africa.

“THEN THE LORD SEEMED TO SAY, “DON’T LET YOUR EDUCATION OR VOCATION, RUIN THE SECOND HALF OF YOUR LIVES”. WE WERE BEING CALLED TO GIVE UP OUR ‘LITTLE PLANS AND DREAMS FOR HIS BIGGER PURPOSE”

During your rebellious and academic years where were you spiritually? 
As everyone from the 60s and 70s, I was on a quest to find the “meaning of life.” I kept asking myself, “What is my purpose?” I couldn’t find the answer, so I got caught up in the drug culture. After exploring various beliefs, I concluded that there was no real answer, and I was content to simply live a crazy life and always try new lifestyles. However, the unanswered question still haunted me, “what was the meaning of life?”

Did any Christians share the Gospel with you? 
No. I think that due to my wild lifestyle I was either unapproachable or I was not willing to listen.

How did you come to know Christ? And what was your position in life when you became a Christian?
Kathy and I were living in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, where I was a CPA with my own Chartered Accounting company. In addition, I was the financial advisor to the governor and also a college instructor. Kathy was the county public health nurse and a registered nurse. We were a young successful family. In spite of our successful lifestyle in a beautiful part of America, we seem to be missing a “greater purpose”. The unanswered questions from my youth seemed to haunt me. “What is the purpose of life?”. We met someone who was willing to answer our questions about Christianity. Considering the possibility that the Lord was real, I invited Jesus to be my Savior. After several years of being a Christian I thoroughly believed in Jesus as the Messiah and fervently read the Word and continually prayed. But I never knew the “Lord” Jesus.”

How could you be a Christian. and not know the Lord Jesus? 
I believed in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah. I trusted Jesus to answer my prayers. I accepted His love and blessings. But I never understood that He is 100%, Lord. And if He is 100% Lord, I realized that we were to serve Him 100%. I then realized that in all honesty, I was not living to serve Him, but rather I was living for myself and my family and expected Him to serve me. As a result of this life-changing revelation, we decided to make Him 100% Lord and give ALL that we had, and valued, to Him and live our lives in service to Him. Like the ‘rich young ruler’ in Matthew 19, I needed to be willing to give ‘ALL” to Him; if I were to experience the life of Christ.

How were you called to full-time ministry? 
While on a short mission trip to a 3rd world country, I was exposed to the multitude of people who were hurting, hungry, and dying to a Christless eternity because there were not enough missionaries to reach those living in darkness. The thought of people going to hell, because I was too selfish to sacrifice my life and will to Him haunted my dreams and thoughts. As I lived and looked at these impoverished people, I began to pray. Then the Lord showed me His heart for the lost and how He weeps for those who are suffering.

As a result of this experience, I began to pray for the lost and give abundantly for missions. But the Lord reminded me that I promised to give 100% of myself to Him and His purpose, not just my nances. To be quite honest, I was frightened by the thought that Kathy and I and our family might be called to a 3rd world lifestyle to serve Him. I didn’t want to leave the ‘American Dream’ lifestyle that we had. We were over-educated and had successfully achieved a lot. Then the Lord seemed to say, “Don’t let your education or vocation, ruin the second half of your lives”. We were being called to give up our ‘little plans and dreams for His bigger purpose. To see more of the African mission click here.

Was it difficult to give up all that you worked so hard for and pack up and follow His calling? 
I had confessed to giving ALL to Him, but I didn’t know if I could give 100% to Him. I found myself grappling with God. But, as you very well know, God always wins. Finally, Kathy and I came to the place in our lives where simple words and empty promises would not appease the calling of God. We came to the place of surrender and made a commitment to give ALL to Him.

Was it hard to obey and go?
After we surrendered all; It was not hard to ‘go’, but rather it would have been hard to ‘stay’.

How did you decide to come to the Eastern Cape? 
Kathy had always wanted to go to Nepal, while I was drawn to Latin America. We applied at 52 mission organizations and were turned down by all because we were too old (the mid-30s), no theological training, too many children (six very young children), no denominal or large church backing, and because we had a charismatic background (ordained Vineyard) no mission organization wanted us. Regardless of the obstacles, we felt “called” to give our lives to reaching the lost of this world.

We received a call from a missionary friend, telling us about the former Republic of Transkei. We never heard of this country. It was the homeland of the Xhosa. Neither of us wanted to move to Africa, but the Lord doesn’t always send you, where you want to go, but rather to where He is calling you.

We had heard that there were approximately five million Xhosa in the Transkei and only 5 missionaries. We knew that the Lord was calling us to a region where Christ wasn’t preached. Paul writes to the Romans, saying “I have aspired to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (Romans 15:20). We heard first-hand reports that there was very little being done to reach the Xhosa in the Transkei. In following Paul’s calling, we made a 40-year commitment to work among the remote villages in the Transkei reaching the unreached and unchurched. Feel free to browse through our picture gallery.

What were some of the challenges you and your family faced upon arrival in the Eastern Cape? 
Even though I had been to 3rd world countries before, Kathy and our six young children were in culture shock upon landing in Mthata. They had never been exposed to the abject poverty and the fact that we stood out as the only non-Xhosas in the area. It was very difficult at first not knowing the language. It was rare back in the mid-80s to find anyone in the Transkei who would be able to speak English. Under President Matanzima’s reign there was a curfew every night, where we could not go outside. We had no electricity for the first few years, so we lived on powdered milk and non-refrigerated food items. We collected water on our roof, to have water to drink and bathe in. We came to the Republic of Transkei to bring the Gospel, but we didn’t know how to share with the people about Jesus, without knowing the language.

That brings up a good question. How do you function without knowing the language? 
The first year we focused on four things. (1) establishing a home where we could live and home-school. (2) Getting an understanding of the culture (which was very different from America), (3) building trust and relationship with the local people, (4) language acquisition. Every day after breakfast and before we started out home school, we would work on learning the language. When you are immersed in a foreign culture, you learn the language very quickly. Within the first year, we acquired enough of the isiXhosa language to effectively communicate. The children learned it much quicker than us.

You have established one of the largest (non-denominational) missions in the South African region. How did you start when you had nothing to build on? 
Before I answer that question, I need to remind you that technically we did not live or work in South Africa. In the 80s it was the Republic of the Transkei. South Africa was south of the Great Kei River and South Africa required its own visas. But to answer your question, after we built relationships among the people, we began to receive invites to various villages that either didn’t have the Gospel or didn’t have a church. We gathered with the villagers into a crowded rondavel (small hut). The meetings would usually start after sunset and go all night. We shared a basic Gospel message of salvation. By midnight we would normally see 80-100 villagers come to Christ each night. At sunrise, we would take a break for some tea and bread, and possibly take a short rest. But when we began the day services, it was usually focused on disciplining the new converts or it would be a healing service, where many people would come to be healed. Read more on “Reaching the Unreached” 

What exactly do you mean by a “healing service?” 
During the all-night evangelism meeting, we would talk about the healing power of Jesus, and challenge the people to bring those who are sick and have physical infirmities to the morning services to be healed. The people believe what we were telling them and because of their faith the Lord would heal most of those who were brought to the ‘healing service’. In addition, many people were delivered of demons at the healing service. Word quickly spread, and soon hundreds of villagers invited us to bring the Gospel to their villages and to pray for those who were sick or needed healing or deliverance. Within the first few years, the Lord used us to establish hundreds of churches. And now after three decades of ministering in the former Transkei, the Lord has used us to establish over one thousand churches.

It is exciting to hear about the tens of thousands of new converts, but the great commission doesn’t say “Go into all the world and make converts of all nations.” We are called to make “disciples”. Were you doing any disciplining or follow-up to the new converts or the newly-planted churches? 
That is a very good question. We had many ways we disciple the new believers, but after the first ten years of one-on-one disciplining, we realized that we needed to train up many Christian leaders who could lead the new churches and the new converts. As a result of much prayer, in 1998, we built and established Gatyana Bible College, which focuses on disciplining and training up local leaders. This is a very unique Bible college, in the following ways. (1) we don’t require a matric certificate to attend our Bible college, (2) we don’t require the students to speak a westernized language (English or Afrikaans), as classes are taught in isiXhosa, (3) it is the only Bible college in southern Africa that is completely governed by indigenous black leaders, (4) student don’t have to relocate to the urban cities of South Africa, but rather the Bible college is located in Willowvale, which is in the rural Eastern Cape, and lastly (5) we do not charge any fees to attend our Bible college.

Why don’t you charge tuition fees like other Bible colleges?
We can’t and anywhere in the Word of God where monetary compensation is required to receive the Word of God. If we can’t find a biblical basis for charging money to learn the Bible, then we can’t justify charging tuition to those who are hungry for the Word.

Where can we get more information on Gatyana Bible College?
Go to www.KellyKoskyMinistries.com or email the dean of Gatyana Bible College at SiphoMaqhinyana@ gmail.com.

What you and the missions are doing spiritually sounds great. But what are you doing to minister to the social issues facing our country? 
In addition to the schools, clinics, and economic development programs that we have established in the Eastern Cape, we have built and established Grace Children’s Centre in Butterworth. This facility cares for and ministers to pre-school-aged children. We not only nurture the Xhosa children in their life skills but also minister to their spiritual development. In addition, we have built and developed an HIV/AIDS facility that ministers to over 78,000 disadvantaged people annually. We are working to transfer this project to the Dept of Health. 

You lost your leg in Africa. Do you mind telling us about what happened and how it has affected the ministries?
Approximately 10 years ago, I was riding my bicycle on a remote rural road, when a lorry with two trailers fully loaded with bricks knocked me down and crushed and ripped off my right leg. In addition to seeing my leg taken off, I was rapidly bleeding out. With a make-shift tourniquet, I was transported to a clinic where they cleanly amputated my leg. I wasn’t sure what life would look like after a crippling accident. But I had a choice; to get bitter or get better. I wasn’t going to abandon the call to reach the lost. I chose to “get- up” not “give-up”. After several months of rehabilitation, I returned to the mission where I continued to minister in the remote Xhosa villages. I realized that you don’t need two legs to minister the Gospel.

Do you mind me asking your age? How long have you and Kathy been ministering in the Eastern Cape? And when do you plan to retire?
I have recently turned 70 years old. Kathy told me not to tell you her age. In the mid-80s we made a 40-year commitment to serve the Lord where most people are not willing to go. We have only been ministering in the remote areas of the Eastern Cape for 34 years. So, we have six years remaining on our commitment to the Lord. After the next six year, we are unsure where He will call us next. We are hoping to remain in Africa. But that would be up to Him. Retirement ??? . . .ummm?? When you do what you enjoy and are passionate about what you do, then you are already living a fulfilled life. I have never found a mandate in the scriptures about retirement. You are welcome to check us out on our website to see if we are re-retirement material. 

What is the biggest regret in giving up your comfortable lifestyle in America and committing over half your life to reaching the Xhosa for Christ? 
Our biggest regret in giving ALL that we had for His service, is that we didn’t do it sooner. We wasted too much of our lives on ourselves, our little plans, and little dreams. We wish we would have yielded sooner.

FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO KELLY AND KATHY KOSKY WEBSITE

+27 81 514 5992 
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