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Koen Koster,
Partner in the Gospel


kosters.JPG (16353 bytes) Janice and I stayed with the Koster family in 1976, during the World Evangelism Foundation partnership mission in Holland.  One of the pictures we took then shows Koen, Linny (the mom), Flip (dad) and Jan Melle (younger brother) at the home where they lived.  

We have stayed with so many wonderful families over the years and we have stayed especially close to this particular family.

Koen Koster.jpg (14782 bytes)

Koen recently got a passport so that he could come to the USA in November to visit us and many of the others that he would meet during the campaign in Sepetember and October.  This is his recent, new passport photo.

But our dear partner in the Gospel ran on ahead of all of us to Heaven on July 16.  He was an important leader in the upcoming Netherlands capaign this fall, both for his church and for the overall effort.  We will miss him greatly!

A Special Soldier Falls

McKinney, Texas, Saturday, July 17, 1999 ---
Along the years of our partnership mission work, we have been blessed with so many dear, dear friends: Americans who have joined with us to go tell, wonderful believers from around the world who have had the courage to invite volunteers from another culture, and tireless behind-the-scenes soldiers, encouragers who invested sweat, blood and tears to be able to rejoice in the many victories we have seen together.

One of these soldiers has fallen. My dear partner in the gospel. A tireless worker for the Lord who always carried a smile on his face and a determination in his every step.

I met Koen Koster when he was only eight or nine years old. His parents were new believers, but they had opened their house for a couple to stay with them during the Netherlands campaign of 1976. Janice and I were that couple.

Koen and his brother were typical little boys; but even then, Koen was special. Although cerebral palsy forced him to walk with a cane, his indomitable spirit forced him to live with a constant smile on his face.

For nearly 20 years I did not see Koen, we just heard about him through his parents' Christmas cards and our occasional telephone calls. More recently we were able to visit Holland. That's when we met Koen the young man -- on mission for the Lord.

The cane was still there. So was the smile. And so was the mission. He immediately volunteered to be my everything in Holland: correspondent, chauffeur, prayer partner, and friend. We spent hours together, and we both loved it. We made plans for him to come to America first for August, then September then finally in November, after the campaign. He would be able to visit all the people that he would meet during the campaign and whom I knew would fall in love with Koen, just like I had done again.

This morning (Saturday), he missed an appointment. Not like Koen. So they called his mom and she went to his apartment and found that finally, the little boy who had always lagged behind, had finally run on ahead. It seems he had a stroke in the night Thursday and left us here to run on home -- run like he had never been able to run here -- to the heavenly mansion that was waiting with his name above the door: "Koen's Home."

Our mission in September won't be the same without Koen. Neither will I.

It's like that when you lose a good soldier. We will miss him. But he and his Lord will expect us to take up his smile and tell the world of Koen's best friend: the Son of God. Stand back Holland! The love Koen showed so well is coming for you.

Well done, faithful soldier! Thank you for being my partner. We pray for all those you leave behind ... me too!

Jerry Byrd

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We've said "Good-by" to Koen

Spijkenisse, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 21 --
We took a Delta flight from Dallas to Amsterdam via Atlanta on Monday, in order to be here today (Wednesday) for the service and celebration of our partner in the Gospel, Koen Koster. We will return to the US on Thursday via New York and Cincinnati.

So many responded to the previous prayer request concerning Koen. I have relayed these to his parents, who asked that I send you a message from them to thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. It was a blessing to them.

The funeral was standing-room-only. Many were there who are not believers, but had a relationship with Koen. At the graveside, I was able to invite them to know Koen's Lord in a personal way, just as Koen knew Him so well.

The house is emptying now. Everyone is going back to their homes. However, we are sure that the great Comforter will move in and be very close to Koen's parents and our friends, Flip and Linny. Please pray not only for their comfort, but also that everyone who has shared this experience, but who does not know Jesus personally, will make this commitment.

We found some beautiful flowers to place in the church and at the grave. They are from all of you. We added a ribbon saying "International Crusades -- our partner in the Gospel." At the graveside, Koen's father stood to thank people and declared that while Koen was looking so much to work in the campaign in September, we would have to work now without him. But Flip said he will work with even more diligence now, in the campaign: for Koen and for Christ.

Thank you for praying for us as we made this hurried and tiring trip. God has been with us for sure.

Jerry Byrd

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