Interesting People - The Bible Man

Thu, April 26, 2018
Interesting People - The Bible Man

Many of you may not even be aware of the numerous Super-Heroes walking our hallways at Friendswood Methodist, so here is the next installment in the series of articles about interesting people at our church….The Bible Man. And who do you know whose mantra appears to be: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can. Yes, John Wesley would be a correct answer, and from our own hallways, Max Kilbourn would be a correct answer as well.  His ministry of putting God’s word in the hands ( & hearts & minds) of as many folks as possible started a long time ago.

Born in Carrabelle, Florida June, 1934, Max lived with his parents and grew up with  three brothers.  It seems that Max focused on a ministry/seminary goal early in his life.  One rather strange but humorous departure from this goal was evidenced by the story and vivid memory Max had of his early childhood years  (perhaps age 3 ) when he spotted the huge pot of spaghetti prepared for the family meal sitting on the stove. Upon looking inside, he saw the “orange” color of the mixed spaghetti with sauce and decided it matched the color of the family Calico cat. He thought surely the cat belonged in the pot with the orange spaghetti, and so he added the cat to the recipe in the pot – a little later when his mother noticed the lid on the pot moving, she rescued the kitten.  Forevermore around town he was known as the Cat-in-the-pot-kid.

After Max shook his “chef” reputation, he continued his schooling and graduated from Carrabelle High School in 1952.  With seminary as his goal, he knew he needed an undergraduate degree to precede a divinity degree, so he enrolled in Florida State and received his degree in Social Science, with a minor in Education in 1956.  He used his teaching skills and taught a short while in Florida to assist with finances for his brothers schooling. Then in 1957 Max started seminary at the Emory University Candler School of Theology. 

 Life was going on all around Max during his schooling, and he certainly was no stranger to work.  He held jobs delivering newspapers, delivering laundry, driving a delivery truck for Sears for a number of years, and various other part-time efforts.  One winter, he and several of his Emory seminary associates came upon a car stuck in the snow.  They obliged the occupants ( all female ) by pushing and getting them un-stuck. The group headed to the girls rooming house where they began playing in the snow with a third girl, who Max was supposed to meet.  It turned out to be a special lady named Carol, who later became Max’s wife in 1961.

In 1962 Max became an ordained Elder in the Methodist Church.  He was also getting some preaching practice and had three churches on a “circuit” that he supported and would deliver sermons and ministry service to.  ( Sound like someone familiar we know named “ John Wesley “ ? )  But Max had a preferred goal of being an “Industrial Chaplain”, similar to the equivalent of a “Ships Chaplain” in the Navy, (a non-military role for a major employer/manufacturer like G.E. or similar corporate entity).  But it required a “technical” educational background supplement to his divinity degree.  So off to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia for he and his family, and in 1966 he graduated with a Physics degree.

There didn’t appear to be any openings in the new area of Industrial Chaplain roles readily available. However, a fledgling organization called NASA was interviewing on campus, and in 1966 Max accepted a position in Aeronautical Engineering. He moved his wife, daughter, and son to Texas, where a second son was born.  The Kilbourn family Texas Methodist connections started at Seabrook Methodist, but when they purchased a home in Friendswood like so many of the NASA employees at the time, they switched their membership to Friendswood Methodist in 1967.

Max enjoyed his involvement at Friendswood Methodist, and used his servant heart whenever and wherever called upon.  Sadly, in 2014 Max lost his wife Carol. Max began occupying his time utilizing his Bible and seminary knowledge and teaching skills in Sunday School Class.  Max has served in lots of areas, and is called upon regularly to teach in Sunday School, and has made himself available as a substitute Sunday School teacher for several classes.  He preaches on a once a month circuit at Clearbrook Crossing Nursing Home and is definitely in the John Wesley circuit preaching mode on these occasions.

In 2009, Elmer Mulder tapped Max as an excellent candidate for Gideons International local Houston South group.   Max wholeheartedly volunteers to distribute bibles with the team, and they have made excellent in-roads with some of the learning institutions in the area.  The Gideons have distributed 2 billion  (with a “b” ) bibles (and counting) in 201 countries and 107 languages to date.  In recent national “bible blitz” campaigns in major cities, Max and his team have given away as many bibles as 1000+ at University of Houston, several hundred at San Jacinto College and Alvin Community College, and several hundred for the Southeast Memorial Hospital Chaplain.  FISD has allowed them to distribute bibles at the off-campus baccalaureate graduations.  This is definitely the work of Super-Heroes like The Bible Man putting God’s word in the hands of the indigent, or needy, and the young leaders of tomorrow.

As if Max wasn’t busy enough, he was recently enlisted by his neighbor to call on his former delivery talents.  Max delivers fully prepared meal kits for an online endeavor called “ Cultivate”.  Expanded from Wednesday-only, to Wed/Thur/Fri delivery, one can buy a meal or cuisine-of-the-day posted on their website for delivery by Max and his van team.  It became all the more important a ministry tool in the post-Harvey time-frame because many folks had their cooking ability knocked out by the storm.  Max pointed out that it also lends itself well to a ministry to the elderly or immobile, if you want to order a meal or do a Pay-It-Forward gesture for a shut-in, it allows the recipient to enjoy a properly prepared nutritious meal. ( If you wish more information on this Cultivate/cuisine service, contact shopcultivate@gmail.com to ask details about ordering meals, or catch Max in the hallways for more info.  (  And what is Max’s salary for this delivery service? “ Will Work For Food” of course, Max says, but they never serve “orange” spaghetti ! )

Speaking of food, Max is a prolific breakfast eater.  His spare time is utilized visiting, and evangelizing, and disciple-ing, and “solving the worlds problems” each morning with his breakfast fellowships.  He is a regular at the six-day-a-week ROMEO’s  (Retired Old Men Eating Out) which has been meeting for years at Friendswood McDonalds, solving the worlds problems in their daily dialogue. Each Wednesday, Max meets with our own Emmaus Accountability and Bible Study group at 6:00 A.M., followed by a What-A-Burger breakfast visit.  Max is frequently the Go-To-Guy when bible questions come up, and he always has an answer or insight. Then usually, Max rushes off to his next fellowship breakfast, followed by his weekly visits to shut-ins, widows, hospital-bound folks, and rehab-facility-bound church members.  ( He is a firm believer in living the Word, James 1:27 regarding caring for the downtrodden and widows ). And this doesn’t include his weekly Saturday Gideons breakfast at Busy Bee Café, or 2nd Wednesday NASA retirees breakfast at Kellys, or his every other Tuesday MPAD NASA group breakfast. Max is also a dedicated attendee at the long running Friendswood monthly Prayer Breakfast. Suffice it to say, Max is a highly sought after participant because of his insight, character, integrity, and Bible-inspired wisdom.

Max is certainly a role model full of humility and wisdom for how to use ones time effectively for the Lord.  The Bible Man listens carefully and lives in accordance with the Lords instructions in Micah 6: 8  “He has showed you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”.