Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Loss of a Patriarch of the Faith

Dr. Stuart Cook (husband of my dad's cousin) was called Home due to a car accident on May 5. He has been a missionary in South Africa since 1966.

I have always admired Stu and Marilyn's faithfulness and consistency in ministry. They went to South Africa to stay. Their names are synonymous with the word "committed." Stu and Marilyn left for the mission field before I was born, and I only had occasion to see them a few times during their furloughs. An ocean separated us here on earth, but I look forward to knowing Cousin Stu better one day Up There!

Here is a summary of the accident by Jerusha Kobriger, a friend who was present at the scene of the accident:

Yesterday [May 5] Dr. Stu Cook left this earth to be with our Lord. He passed in the arms of his wife. His best friend of 55 years. The love of his life. The Cooks were with us at our house and we all left to go to Bible Study. We were following behind them in our truck on a country road, just past sunset. An oncoming truck didn’t have headlights on and was in our lane. Stu and Marilyn crashed head on with the truck. The truck contained 3 black African men. Two died, and one is in critical condition with severe head and body injuries. Marilyn was eventually taken to two hospitals, in which Paul, Micky, Simon, Aaron and I accompanied until her family arrived from Johannesburg. Marilyn was then transferred to a third hospital to get proper care. She is in stable condition but is in much pain with 11 broken ribs, a pierced lung, and many bruises and lacerations.

Stu and Marilyn’s children asked Aaron and I to stay at their farm for a few days to oversee the property and workers. I struggle to write this letter to you on our computer at Stu’s desk, in which I’m honored.

The very first time Aaron and I met Stu Cook, we loved and admired him. That day we laughed and told him, “Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be our mentor.”
And he became so much more. Aaron and I had some unexpected turns and rough times since our time here in South Africa. Stu and Marilyn immediately scooped us up and took us under their wing. They provided an abundance of prayer, fellowship, teaching, ministering, hospitality, and laughs. The blessing they have been to us is indescribable.

Several weeks ago, Stu went to Aaron and told him, “May 2, you’re preaching.” And that was that. Though Stu didn’t know this, but it is one of Aaron’s life goals to be a good preacher. And this past Sunday, he preached his very first sermon. It was on wisdom. Something we hope to attain even a fraction of what Stu had. It was the last sermon Stu heard in church, which is fitting because it was out of admiration of Stu’s wisdom, that Aaron decided to preach on that topic. Aaron is forever grateful.

Stu was follower of Christ. He was a husband and a father. A preacher. A missionary. A friend. A scholar. A teacher. A cowboy. In just about any conversation or time spent with Stu, you knew with certainty he was all of these. He loved the Lord and all of the stories and mysteries the Bible teaches. With Stu, everything came back to God. Everything.

I have a list I keep in my Bible, that I continually would add to, of Biblical subjects I wanted Stu to teach us about. He taught us with such knowledge and wisdom in great humility. Stu gave us a yearning to know everything we could about the Bible. The history. The people. The culture. The scriptures. He naturally educated people and made people think. He truly was someone that you became smarter and wiser simply by being in his company. Whether he spoke about why the resurrection is a real event, or his early ministry in Johannesburg, or his adoring wife, or growing up in Wyoming, there was always something to learn from Stu. And it all circled back to God.

Please pray for Stu’s wife Marilyn. She is a wonderfully strong woman who LOVES the Lord. Please pray for their family as well as the community. Stu’s impact on people’s lives is immeasurable, and the grieving is far reaching. Also pray for the families of the others that passed and for the recovery of the man in critical condition.

We had once said to Stu and Marilyn that we are a long way from our parents, and told them that they’re our “African Parents.” God left us in good hands in Africa.

We continue to weep.
Stu, we love you very, very much. We wish our parents could have finally met you. You are our mentor, our friend, our African father. ~ Jerusha Kobriger

There are many more such tributes to the life of Dr. Stuart Cook and his ministry">here.

For Stuart's ministry website and links to updates on his wife Marilyn (my dad's cousin), click">here.

(Email address where you can send tributes for the website:

For Stuart's education and accomplishments click">here.

My dad's comments:
Stu was one of the first preachers I ever actually listened to. When I was perhaps three or four, I remember my dad chiding me for not listening in church, and I protested, "I did listen to the stories." Stu was a great story-teller, an effervescent personality, an irresistible leader, and a man's man. He probably instilled in me an abiding respect for men of God. Marilyn, like her mother and mine (sisters) is a perennial servant, and one of those unusual persons who makes everyone they meet feel as if they are the most important individuals alive. ~ C.T. Spear

No doubt there are people all over the world who will miss Dr. Stuart Cook and the shining light he was for the Lord.

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