Posted by Jack Legg
I have never wished anyone Godspeed before.
I've told people "Goodbye," and "Farewell," and "You'll be missed." I've even thrown down the occasional "Good riddance!" But never in my life have I used the expression "Godspeed."
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it is basically a phrase that is meant to wish someone well as they depart on a journey. It expresses positive intention for the traveler, blesses them upon their departure, and wishes them success and safety as they go.
As many of you know, Jeff and Inge Cook are moving to Denver this week. They will be working on various super-cool things already taking place at Providence Bible Church. In short, they are moving to the 'hood to do inner-city ministry work.
I studied under Jeff Cook, both in the classroom and out of the classroom.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are three things I appreciate about Jeff Cook:
1) He is a leader. I can tell you from experience that not every teacher leads. But every leader teaches.
Whether it be engaging issues of race in a predominantly white school, or preaching ministry to the poor among the privileged, Jeff taught me that you can't be afraid to go first. And many of us are grateful that he has been bold enough to lead for all these years.
2) He is passionate. He's said it before: if you cut him anywhere, he will bleed urban ministry. He isn't kidding. Devoting countless weekends to the "urban-i-cation" of hundreds of students, often at great cost and sacrifice... opening up his home and property to be utilized as a center of learning... and encouraging students to go out into the world and serve in the margins. I hope it can be said of me one day that my passion for Christ was so evident it never had to be proven.
3) He is conservative. I don't mean to use that word as a label, especially since the terminology has been hijacked by so many jackasses. But, I do mean to say that Jeff is committed to the serious study of Scripture.
Yeah, some of us "progressive" types get a bad rap. If matters of social justice are near and dear to our heart, some would say, then our hermeneutic must be weak. Not Jeff Cook. I've heard the man preach and teach numerous times, in public settings and private conversations. The foundation of every concept? Scripture. I remember spending the first several weeks of "Intro to Urban Ministry" listening and scribbling notes while Dr. Cook surveyed all of Scripture, building a sturdy framework for ministry to the poor. First, you build a skeleton of Scriptural teaching, then you wrap it in flesh. I respect a teacher who allows Scripture to speak, even if it isn't saying what we want it to.
I can't finish this post without mentioning Inge! Here are three things I appreciate about Inge:
1) She is loving. Not only does she care deeply for her family and (by extension) students, but she demonstrates it in tangible ways. I happen to know that Inge reads student reflection papers, listening as they try to articulate their learning curve. She is just as invested in the success of students as her husband is.
2) She is hospitable.Have you ever been invited to Inge's table to share a meal? I have! And it is an experience that cannot be matched. Any student who went through Refugee Weekend (or volunteered) benefited from her loving-kindness in the form of a stunning breakfast... a representation of heaven on earth! Inge is a mother... to her own children and to the countless students who have crossed her threshold.
3) She is creative. Our biggest regret at the Mulberry House is that we never had Inge come over to decorate. She is a gifted painter, talented gardener, and wonderful cook. Even though she has humbly dismissed the praise, I have always been stunned at the beauty of Inge's creations.
I don't like to be sappy... although honest appreciation of meaningful people in your life should never be considered sappy... but I wanted to write this.
Jeff and Inge,
I know it will be hard to leave so many people and things behind. But,
as Jeff Cook once said, "You can't drive a car looking only in the rear
view mirror." Forward. Onward and upward. We'll miss you, but we'll still be here when you
come back to visit.
So, Jeff and Inge, I wish you well. We all know this plan is the right one. None of us doubt God's goodness, or the bigness of His plans for you.
We celebrate the work you've done. We honor you for the sacrifices you've made. We are inspired by your willingness to start a new adventure. We are thrilled that you will still be in the trenches (different trenches, though they may be).
And, we love you. We love you as unique, inimitable members of the Body of Christ, the most diverse, expansive family in the history of the universe.
So, what's a few hundred miles? :)
Godspeed, Jeff and Inge! Godspeed.
By the way: if you want to be a part of the exciting work Jeff and Inge will be doing in Denver, you're in luck! We can all be supportive of their ministry through prayer and giving. If you are reading this, you should consider supporting the Cook family financially. Shoot me an email if you want the details. I can get you plugged in. Check out www.providencedenver.org to see some of the things they will be involved in.