Herbert H. Cox (1884-1926), an early Assemblies of God missionary in India, experienced the death of a son on the mission field. A few weeks after young Alkwyn’s death, Cox wrote a letter in which he described the grief that he and his wife felt. The letter, published in the Oct. 14, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, provides insight into the often-difficult lives of early missionaries.
Alkwyn’s death occurred at a stressful time in the Coxes’ ministry. Earlier that year, the family had moved to Lakhimpur, India, where they were trying to start an Assemblies of God mission. Things were not going well. Herbert wrote, “When we first came to this place it seemed if the whole community was against us. We could not go out without being sneered at.”
Life did not seem fair. But Cox explained that he and his wife trusted God through the difficulties. “It pleased the Lord to take from us, a few weeks ago, our youngest son,” Cox wrote. “We did not understand it, but submitted to His will in it all.” The missionaries turned their burden over to the Lord and did not allow their grief to turn into despair.
Alkwyn’s death softened the hearts of the residents of Lakhimpur. Herbert wrote, “But now the people have become so friendly and salute us wherever we are. The walls of prejudice have been broken and now we have an open door for the gospel.”
The Cox family had sown seeds of the gospel in Lakhimpur, but the gospel did not take root until the missionaries had watered those seeds with their own tears of grief.
Cox seemed to anticipate their suffering. He delivered a sermon, “The Power and Grace that Makes Martyrs,” in 1919 at the Stone Church, a large Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago. In his message, Cox described how his spiritual formation came not from a Bible school, but at the Gurney Iron Foundry in Toronto, Canada, where he had worked for 10 years before entering Nyack Missionary Training Institute.
Cox’s co-workers at the foundry led rough lives. The drugs of alcohol and tobacco went into their mouths and profanity came out. They wanted nothing to do with religion. Cox had to decide whether to take the easy route and keep his faith to himself, or to share Christ and suffer persecution. He chose the latter.
Cox testified, “He wants us to witness right where we are working these days. Of course you get your persecution. I have been knocked to the ground and held down by four men and a knife threateningly branded. I have been smitten across the mouth, but I still have the love of Jesus in my soul.”
Cox was grateful for these formative experiences of suffering. He wrote, “God made me ready in the foundry to witness [of] Jesus.” He shared his faith at the foundry, and some of his colleagues accepted Christ and their rough lives became hewn for the ministry. His first convert became a missionary and was responsible for the building of 27 churches in Nigeria.
What caused young Herbert Cox to embrace the way of suffering? He spent significant time studying the Word of God, and he took to heart the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul. Cox noted that Paul was persecuted, jailed, reviled, hungry, and thirsty. Yet this did not deter him from wanting to follow Paul’s example. In his 1919 sermon, Cox admonished listeners to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission: “Lord, give us some Apostle Pauls today. We are in need of them. I believe God wants us to follow in the steps of this great man of God.”
Herbert Cox followed the example of the Apostle Paul and gave everything for the cause of Jesus Christ. Cox contracted smallpox while ministering in Dhaurahra, India. On Feb. 6, 1926, he joined his son, Alkwyn, in heaven.
Read the article, “Lakhimpur: A Virgin Field of One Million Souls,” by Herbert H. Cox, on page 10 of the Oct. 14, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Like Precious Faith,” by Smith Wigglesworth
• “Be Filled with the Spirit,” by W. T. Gaston
And many more!
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Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.