Dr. Arnold Cook

Guest Contributions



Louis L. King Was My Mentor

Dr. Arnold L. Cook

Christians funerals are spiritual retreats for me. For an hour the panic pace of life stops still. There is a finality at funerals which I find instructive. Someone's earthly life has ceased, and for a few minutes we reflect on the life lived as friends and family eulogize the departed. A brief homily reviews the wonders of heaven. All this reminds me of my own finiteness and of my own final eulogy that will be given by Christ at the Judgment Seat (2 Cor. 5:10).

Last month I attended the funeral of a long-term mentor, Dr. L.L. King. More importantly, he mentored The Christian and Missionary Alliance. King was a household name for all our missionaries who served from 1960 to 1990. Like A.W. Tozer, King was larger than the C&MA. His visionary strategy to wean national churches off of Mission subsidy transformed us from a colonial Mission in the 1950s into a growing indigenous church-planting missionary movement for the next four decades of the 20th century. His tenacious passion to develop indigenous national churches literally reshaped Alliance missions. This culminated in the birth of The Alliance World Fellowship in 1975, now a dynamic organization of 45 autonomous Alliance denominations in 45 countries. Through King's cross pollination conferences with other Missions in the 60s and 70s, his strategy for moving national churches toward full autonomy became the basic policy of many Missions.

Some who read this editorial may wonder who this author is. My wife and I were missionaries during the “King Era” in Latin America, 1961--1978. We saw and felt his impact in two areas, first when Dr. King visited us in our first term. We were planting an urban church. I was serving as the pastor--which was a no-no even in 1964. He tersely reminded me, “Arnold, it must turn out right,” which, by interpretation, meant: “You must be sure that a national pastor replaces you soon.”

He visited us again in our second term in another city. I showed him the Union Seminary where I was teaching national leaders. I was anxious to have him see the Student Reading Room across from the large university. The good doctor was unimpressed. He simply asked: NJrnold, how do these activities relate to the planting of an indigenous national church in that city?” Obviously King did not sit in New York and strategize. He was committed to visiting the ground troops. (He once trekked several days to visit personnel in what used to be known as Irian Jaya, Indonesia.)

Following my missionary career and 19 years at the National Office of the C&MA Canada, I served four years as the president of the Alliance World Fellowship (AWF). Again, I felt the impact of King’s indigenous policy. L.L. (as some called him) sensed the need of these newly established autonomous national churches to feel a part of the larger Alliance family. The AWF became King’s answer. Founded in 1975, its focus was on fellowship. Conferences continue to be held every four years on different continents.

The second area where I felt the impact of mentor King was when I met with my committee of six outstanding national leaders representing the five regions of AWF. I was profoundly thankful for the vision of L.L. King. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the greatest desire of these leaders was to find ways to send their own missionaries from each of their regions. Missions full circle! In April of 2004 in the Netherlands, AWF held its eighth quadrennial conference in Europe. My most recent joy in ministry was to hand over the AWF leadership to a godly young Dutch leader.

As I come to this stage of my life (three score plus), I am reflecting on my passions in ministry--past and present. My life motto, MIFG, may be familiar to some. I have now added another “G”--“Maximum Impact for God’s Glory.” Under that broad rubric, world evangelization has and continues to be my heart. Closely aligned is my growing concern for the Church and its need for frequent times of renewal and revival. A major part of that challenge is what I have called “historical drift.” I am not concerned about the Church--big “C”-- the body of Christ. It will be all that Paul predicts in Ephesians five, verse twenty-seven. My passion is the church--little “c”--which should be a reflection of that holy and glorious body of Christ, the Church Universal.

These two great themes will be the stuff of these editiorials—“Cookie Crumbs from A. Cook.” We all believe many things, but the critical question is: “What do we believe passionately?” Tozer put it this way: “It’s not what you believe that counts, but what you believe emphatically.”


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