When Fred Cooke was 13 he felt God calling him to preach. He fought it for a couple of years, right up until just before his 16th birthday.
And then one Sunday night, he said yes.
That was 60 years ago. “I’ve been trying to preach ever since,” he said.
For the past six decades, Cooke has filled the pulpit of Baptist churches, mostly in Georgia. But a few years back, a church in Randolph Baptist Association — Shiloh Baptist, Graham — pulled Cooke over the state line into Alabama to be its pastor.
“They loved me and I loved them,” he said. “I was very much at peace there.”
But a year and a half ago, Randolph Association asked him to be its director of missions and he said yes.
“I feel like that’s where the Lord wants me right now,” he said.
Cooke loves the churches. He loves seeing the young pastors working together and preaching revivals at each other’s churches. He loves the association’s two thrift stores, which fund its food pantry.
“To me, it’s seeing the real thing, what Jesus called us to do — feed the hungry and clothe those who don’t have anything to wear,” he said.
And he loves doing it all in Alabama.
“All of the folks at the state office have been so helpful — every single one of them will help you if you’ll let them. It’s been a joy to get to know them,” Cooke said.
In fact, everything about his role in Randolph Association has been a joy, he said. “I’m just a young 76-year-old having the time of my life. I thought I was done, but God just keeps giving me things to do.” (Grace Thornton)
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