Monday, July 1, 2013

Shirley Cook Is With Her Lord

Missionary.  Wife.  Mother.  Grandma.  Friend.  Teacher.  Encourager.  One of the most gracious women I have known has passed from this life into the presence of Jesus earlier this morning (July 1st).  Shirley Cook, wife of Dr. Jim Cook, died four months after her diagnosis with Bulbar's Palsy, a degenerative disease that made talking, swallowing, and muscle function in the face and neck slowly disappear.

Through her illness, she maintained her gracious spirit and her testmony.  I just spoke to and prayed with Dr. Cook, who told me of her words to the doctor who diagnosed her at the Mayo Clinic.  She thanked him for his hard work in finding out what was wrong, and in response to his rather negative outlook, she said, "I belong to the Lord Jesus, and I will not arrive in Heaven one day late."

Shirley married Jim after the death of his first wife, Sylvia, the mother of his two sons.  Shirley had worked in the office of their mission as the Cooks left for the Philippines.  Upon Jim and Shirley's marriage, she became mom to Jim and John.  A son, Jeffrey, was born to Jim and Shirley in Sri Lanka during their mission service there, but he died shortly after his birth (one of many events recounted in Jim's wonderful memoir, Under His Majesty's Command).  She served with Jim as a missionary in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), and as pastor's wife when they planted International Baptist Church in Honolulu and then as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jose, CA.  After Jim's retirement from the pastorate, the Cooks embarked on a ministry of teaching, preaching, conference speaking, and mentoring.  They traveled nearly one million miles until Shirley's illness made it impossible for them to continue.

I first met Shirley and Jim when Kathy and I were at Hume Lake Christian Camps and Conference Center for a summer vacation and Jim was the speaker for the adult conference.  We hadn't planned to go to the conference that week, but hearing Jim changed our minds.  Jim and Shirley met with us there, and we were blessed to begin a wonderful friendship.  They have been confidants and advisors to us, and they have loved us and our children.  We will miss her terribly.

Pray for Dr. Cook, for John and Dee (our missionaries with IMI), as well as the rest of the family.  Services for Shirley will be in Colorado and Hawaii, with the Colorado service on July 13.