Being a servant: The Rev. Tony Kobak strives strive to be and illustrate a servant

Sunday, May 2, 2010
The Rev. Tony Kobak is pastor of Hanover Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

When the Rev. Tony Kobak came to Hanover Luther Church in July, he vowed that the one thing that he would always strive to be and illustrate is a servant. Kobak lives by Ephesians 6:6b-7, to "do the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." So in his free time, Kobak likes to be interactive with the people around him as much as possible. He said he likes to consider himself the Mike Rowe -- host of "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel -- of pastors. He has bailed hay, repaired combines, slopped hogs, ridden in emergency vehicles to accidents, worked on trucks, loaded sod and done dental mission work in the jungles of Honduras. He also has worked on building homes for Habitat for Humanity and delivered meals to homebound elderly people with Meals on Wheels.

How long have you been involved with a church? I have been a member of many churches my entire life.

How long have you been a member of the Lutheran faith? I have been a member of the Lutheran faith for 20 years.

What drew you to serve the church in a leadership role? I have served in many different roles as a lay leader in my original congregation. I felt the Lord calling me each time to take my role to a higher level. In 1995 I was led to leave my life as an aircraft mechanic to become a full-time pastor in the Lutheran Church.

What education did you go through to become a pastor? I lived the first half of my life as an ordinary person. You could say I attended the school of hard knocks. I worked rotating shifts, midnights and holidays for 15 years with Delta Air Lines as an aircraft technician crew chief. With this education I learned I had to meet people where they are at in life. We cannot change anyone. We can only show them the love of God through our words and actions. After hearing a calling from God, I attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis where I earned a master's degree in divinity.

How many years have you served as a pastor? Less than one year.

Where are you from and when/why did you move to Southeast Missouri? I most recently moved from Fort Worth, Texas. I felt honored to be called by the people of Hanover Lutheran Church to serve as their pastor. This church has existed for 168 years, and I was graced to be called as its 25th pastor.

Were you involved with Hanover Lutheran Church before becoming the pastor? I served my vicarage in 2007 in Cape Girardeau at Hanover.

What do you think makes this church special? God makes Hanover special. God is present in this house of worship. It has a historic past that honors those men and women who have served God from the first German immigrants to this area in 1846 to those active in this community today. This is a church looking toward being a part of the shaping the future of all of God's people. Hanover is dynamically interwoven into the fabric of Cape Girardeau and Jackson by the hand of God.

What's your favorite verse and why? My favorite Bible verses are Ephesians 6:6b-7, "Do the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men," and John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 is the most important verse of the Bible because it tells us what God has done for us. Ephesians 6:7 is my personal favorite because it instructs me as how I should live. I challenge anyone to think about what these words of God say. The word of God can change your life if you would only listen to what he is saying.

What program have you done with Hanover Lutheran Church that you are proud of and why? I believe Hanover has an incredible tradition of supporting the foundation and training of new pastors. This church is the only one in the entire Cape Girardeau area that is active in raising up and training the new pastors of tomorrow. This is accomplish through our vicarage program. The opportunity here is a unique one to see, as we get the chance to watch these young men grow as they are being formed by God to be the shepherds of His church. Our youth group is incredible because of the many diverse people who organize it and the youth who are involved.

What events does your church have coming up? Every Sunday at Hanover is a special occasion because we hear the word of God and he is present with us through the word and sacraments. We have worship this Sunday at 7:45 and 10 a.m. Our summer vacation Bible school program is beginning June 6 as a Sunday School enhancement at 9 a.m. Many Bible studies take place each week to help the congregation grow with God.

What's your favorite day of the week and why? Sunday of course. I cannot see how anyone can not want to begin each week hearing about the love of God.

What's your favorite part of being a pastor? I love living in God's word and seeing how he is active in my life. God is using so many people in this area to reach those who do not yet know their savior. I am thrilled to be one of them. I know God is reaching out for each of those individuals who have no church home. Many people in Cape Girardeau are searching to know that there is more to life than earning a paycheck and going home to mindlessly watch TV. Hanover is here providing the only life giving Word. That word of God was given to each of us on the day we first believed. God's love provides for us when we are lost and down trodden.

What hobbies do you have? I enjoy scuba diving, spelunking, woodworking and many other outdoor activities.

Do you have a prayer, psalm or verse you would like to give our readers for the day? Psalm 139:1O, "Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even here your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you."

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