Weekly Local Biography

  Kendall Cobb

Kendall Cobb is the director of a printing company in northern Thailand. He employs 25 Thai locals, of which five are deaf, but the closest he came to printing, before he came to Thailand, was reading the printed word. However, his chosen printed words have been from the bible, and they have been instrumental in directing most of his life. Kendall Cobb is a committed missionary.

Kendall was born in Connecticut in the USA, the third son to a pastor and his wife. Initially he went to school in Oregon, Idaho, but by the time he was in 5th grade he was in Madagascar, as his father had become a missionary. His youthful overseas experience continued after the family fled the communist take-over, and he completed years 6-9 in West Germany, incidentally meeting the girl who was to become his future wife, only to return to Idaho for year 10. Years 11 and 12 were back in Germany, making Kendall well and truly internationalized.

He was also smitten by the young girl in West Germany and they wanted to become engaged, but both parents were against it because of their ages. So he continued with his education, with the idea of becoming a graphic designer, once more going to college in Oregon. He only did one year and left to get married. He was 19 years old, but as Kendall said (with a grin), “Love was stronger than anything else.”

Now with a wife to provide for, he joined that great icon of Americana, Coca-Cola, as a merchandiser, a job he did for three years. However, he found that there was another love that was becoming stronger than anything else. “I felt the Lord wanted me to get more involved in missionary work.”

His parents were in missionary work in Hong Kong and he decided he should join them. He spent 12 months traveling through the USA beforehand, working on building sites while getting support for his own ‘mission’ and was successful in this, though Kendall made light of his own motivational abilities, saying simply, “The Lord really just provided.”

Now in Hong Kong, he looked at what he should do to further his mission and saw the vast continent of China. Despite 45 years of Communist control, there was still a very strong and growing core of Christian believers, but they lacked one important item. Christian bibles.

Kendall Cobb knew what he could do to help. He took “tour groups with a mission focus” to China. This he did for 16 years. The tour groups had knapsacks, and those knapsacks had bibles in them. Not quite what the Chinese authorities had envisaged, Kendall is sure, but they were never stopped. Kendall’s total faith in his Lord comes through when he says, “The main miracle was the Lord opened up the door and let us get the bibles in.”

Mind you, this does not mean that Kendall’s mission had plain sailing all the way. At one stage he felt that they should get the spoken word into China as well as the written word. He opened a factory in China to produce hand-cranked cassette players, with the concept of being able to distribute these to areas without electric power. This was all duly incorporated in correct Chinese legal fashion, but on one inspection, he was caught with two bags of bibles on site. Even his Lord couldn’t get him out of that one and Kendall was banned from entering China for two years. Two years to the day, Kendall was lining up at the border gate into China with his knapsack full of bibles, and was rewarded with a visa inwards once again. His Lord certainly taught him perseverance!

After 16 years in Hong Kong, the Cobb family felt that it was time to leave. It was a family too, with Kendall and his wife now having three daughters and one son. The 1997 hand-over was approaching too, and the missionaries returned to America for a well-earned break from the mission field. Kendall went back to the building sites, while his wife worked as a hostess in the local church. This took up three years, but the call to the missions was to come again.

This time the call came from Thailand, through the Morse family that had been here for many years. Kendall put together a mission, and they arrived here in 1998. Thailand was to make an immediate impression. “I loved the environment. I was attracted by the people (that I felt showed) the result of strong Buddhist teachings.” I asked Kendall if there was a problem in the fact that he was bringing in a Christian message that might change the nature of the people, previously exposed to Buddhist teachings as he had noted? “We’re not changing people from Buddhism,” he said. “We are just here to share Jesus.”

To be able to share the story of Jesus with peoples who have never heard of the son of the Christian God, required duplicating of video and gospel recordings (now available in 5,500 languages), and initially that was what Kendall’s mission was going to do. This was to change with a request from America to produce the Gospel literature “How to Know God” in S.E. Asian languages.

This was a totally new venture, but they imported offset printing presses and opened a print shop. “Dad had the vision, and my cousin who had been in printing for many years, had the expertise.” So now they print Christian literature, which takes up 98 percent of their capacity, but the other two percent can go into such non-missionary work as printing election flyers!

His ambition is, like the man, selfless. “I want to share hope and strength and faith with people to help them become better people in their lives. It needs a higher power pushing it.”

Whether you believe in Kendall’s higher power is immaterial, an hour with Kendall does show you what faith can do for mankind.