Hermana Juanita

Jan Kok grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan in an American middle class home. Pablo Feliciano Cruz was reared in Yaxoquintela, Chiapas, Mèxico, where his father worked in jungle camp for the Wycliffe Bible Society. They met while both attending bible college in Grand Rapids. After Pablo graduated, Jan moved to Chiapas with the expectation of marrying Pablo but only after a year of actual living in Chiapas to make certain that she understood exactly what she was getting into and that she could make it her life long home. Jan moved to Yax to live with Pablo’s parents while Pablo pursued a ministry that required a great deal of travel. Jan’s immersion into Tzeltal culture was intense but she knew where her heart lay: in ministry as the partner and wife of Pablo. They wed.

Thirty years later, Jan has fully acclimated to life in Chiapas. The couple has resided in Yaz, Villahermosa and now Ocosingo among other locations as the Tzeltal Synod asked Pablo to fulfill numerous ministries. Jan has been an active participant in them all.

When American groups are in Chiapas, Jan’s ministry is to take care of the groups. Up by 5:00 at the latest, she always has coffee brewed when group members arise. She prepares breakfast while supervising her Tzeltal helpers. Breakfast is served early to Americans. A second breakfast is served to Mexican workmen later in the morning. Jan prepares lunch. Jan prepares dinner. She makes sure that groups have water and Gatorade plus snacks for the morning break. The kitchen is her pulpit and her meals her sermon.  The head count for the services often reaches thirty or more. She insures that food is carefully cleansed before serving and that a high degree of hygiene in observed. Weekends find her shopping for the week and traveling to villages ahead of groups to set up base camp. Her days are long and the work unrelenting. 

Despite all of the effort, Jan maintains a cheerful disposition and shares of herself. When in Sibal she has the added responsibility of being the wife of the pastor. People drop in on her and consume her time at all hours.

When groups are not in Chiapas, Jan visits prisons where she has an active ministry among the inmates. She spends time with them, reads with them, encourages their craft projects and ministers to them. She gives tirelessly in this ministry among a population with whom most people want no contact. Jesus encouraged exactly this ministry.

For thirty years, Jan has been wife, mother, grandmother and minister. She has devoted her life to service to the church and Jesus Christ. Without Jan, Hebron USA and Hebròn de Desarrollo Tzeltal would not be able to host groups of cross-cultural mission travelers. If you ever get the chance to meet this remarkable woman you will be thankful for the experience. If you ever meet her say “thank you” to her for all that she does to build up the Kingdom of God. Jan lives out her faith daily in servcie to others and we are all the better for her efforts.

Randy DuVall.

3 thoughts on “Hermana Juanita

  1. kathy arn says:

    Lovely tribute, Randy.


  2. Janet Farrell says:

    This brings tears and makes me miss her more than I usually do. She is role model of disciple to me. Thank you sharing her story.


  3. Melinda Morton says:

    Amen, amen and amen!


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