Czech Republic to Siloam: Family reunites as parents named new campus missionaries

When Hans and Jane Koebele first began serving with Operation Mobilization in Eastern Europe, they had no idea that God would eventually lead them to serve in the Czech Republic together for over 22 years.

Hans and Jane Koebele, John Brown University’s Missionaries in Residence for the 2013-2014 academic year, first met in 1987 serving on a team whose mission was to smuggle Bibles into Communist countries of Eastern Europe.

“We were so young… I don’t think the danger of it really registered in my mind,” said Hans Koebele about his first experience with Operation Mobilization.

Nonetheless, the Lord protected them and led them to continue serving alongside Operation Mobilization for the next 26 years. This eventually led them to answer the Lord’s call to move to the Czech Republic in 1991 when their oldest child, Luke, was only eight months old.

The Czech Republic, formerly Czechoslovakia, was held under a Communist regime for over 40 years, the results of which continue to influence the people, even today.

“Czechs can be very skeptical towards kindness, at times,” said Jane.

Nonetheless, the Koebele family has spent the past number of years ministering to the people of the Czech Republic by teaching English, building relationships and involving themselves in a church-planting ministry in the southern part of the country.

Hans and Jane’s three children, Luke, Lydia and Naomi, have lived in the Czech Republic for almost their entire lives, and the family has spent the past 14 years in the most unreached area of the country, South Bohemia.

Four years ago, however, Luke moved from the Czech Republic to Siloam Springs to attend JBU, and his sister Lydia soon followed suit and began attending the University in the spring of the next year.

During a video-chat with his parents, Luke once mentioned that they should consider applying for the Missionaries in Residence program at the University, something that they had never before considered.

“We went to the JBU website and read the information about the position, and we immediately thought that it would be a really good fit for us,” said Hans. “We had also seen how positive and beneficial Luke’s and Lydia’s JBU experience had been, and therefore viewed the position as a wonderful way to ‘give back’ through serving missionary kids and the JBU community.”

After consistent prayer, Hans and Jane applied and eventually accepted the position as the 2013-2014 JBU Missionaries in Residence. The Koebele family has been reunited in Siloam Springs, and the timing could not have been more perfect.

“Our third child, Naomi, was about to graduate from high school and apply for college, so if we were accepted for the Missionaries in Residence position, it would possibly provide a unique opportunity for us to be together again as a family, and so special because of the important stage that each child would be at in their college years,” Hans said.

Jane and Hans are particularly grateful to be in the U.S. for Luke’s senior year, Lydia’s junior year and Naomi’s freshman year at the University.

Hans and Jane also mentioned that it was a perfect time to draw back from their church-plant in South Bohemia to provide the people of the church more opportunities to step into leadership positions and “step out in faith.”

“We are so grateful for how the Lord answered our prayers and led us clearly in all these things,” Hans remarked.

Jane and Hans Koebele plan to return to the Czech Republic in the summer of 2014, but until then, they are delighted to be able to serve the missionary kids in the community, and also spend time with their children.