Originally from Georgia, Roy and Carolyn McCook have devoted most of their lives to helping lead others to God even when they may not know the native language.
“Most of the time, especially in Africa, we had a translator,” said Roy. “In some places, every village we went to would speak a different language. Congo alone has 144 languages.”
Before they traveled around the world through God’s calling, the pair met when they both worked at the Macon Paper Company. The pair wed soon after and fell into a normal routine.
After a regular Sunday church service, their preacher asked him if he would mind going to Haiti with a group from the congregation for a mission trip. He agreed, but what he didn’t realize was that this trip would alter his family’s life forever.
While in Haiti, Roy’s group set up small camps and clinics all over the island. While working in a clinic set up on a mountain, Roy was greeted by a woman speaking in a language he couldn’t understand. She was holding a small bundle, which she handed to him. When he uncovered it, he found a young child, stomach bloated from malnutrition to the point that his skin was ripping apart and bleeding.
“I will never forget that moment,” he said. “When I got home, I told Carolyn, ‘We can’t let this happen. We should raise money for these starving people.’”
God spoke to them both and told them that they should not only feed the hungry in body but the hungry in spirit. They knew that this wasn’t going to be a rash decision, as to follow God would impact their entire family.
“We had a family conference,” Carolyn said. “Guy was 14, Diane was 12, and Kevin was 5. We wanted our children to understand why we were choosing to take up mission work.”
They signed up as a family for Church Mission Society (CMS) International, a faith-based mission group in which participants raise their own funds to go on mission trips. Their first trip would be to Colombia in South America.
Before they dove into the deep end, the McCooks needed training. They moved to Michigan for a mission internship which lasted for two years.
“While we were there, I was asked if I would go to a church that had recently lost their pastor of 30 years,” Roy said. “I never intended to be a pastor, but I accepted it.”
Shortly after accepting, he would also be volunteered for another big job.
“Someone in the church had come up to me,” said Carolyn, “and they asked me if Roy would officiate a funeral for their loved one. I told them yes.” Carolyn laughed. It was the first time Roy officiated a funeral.
Roy never went to seminary, but after leading a church as interim pastor for two years, a director of a local seminary told him that it wasn’t necessary for him. Instead, the family moved back to Macon, GA to raise funds for their life in Colombia.
“When we were in Macon, the largest church in Atlanta at the time, Peachtree Methodist, asked me to speak for them, so I did,” said Roy. “That’s what got us started.”
With the funding taken care of, the family moved to Costa Rica for a year of language school before moving again to Colombia where they would live for 15 years, coming back every four years for furlough and fundraising.
While in Colombia, they family helped to raise new churches and lead numerous people to God. After 15 years, it was time for another change. This time the Christian Ministry Alliance called to ask if they would be willing to plant churches along the east coast of the United States. They trusted in God’s calling and went, helping churches through the ministry for 10 years. God would then call them down to Mexico where they would perform mission work for an additional five years.
“We came home after that to retire,” said Carolyn. “I wanted to be a grandmother to my grandchildren.”
Less than a year later, Roy was called again. This time to Africa.
“They told me it would only be for a year, but I ended up staying for 17 years,” he said.
The trip took him to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi where he planted 19 churches, “with help from the Lord,” Roy and Carolyn said together. Most of these range from 30 to 300 people. “Churches include at least 25 baptized adults; otherwise, it’s considered a Bible study,” said Roy.
The couple finally settled in the area to be closer to their son who lives in town.
“We love Scotia Village. It’s small enough that it feels like a family who you can sit and eat with every day,” said Roy.
“We’ve been here for almost five years,” said Carolyn. “It feels like living in a resort.”
We’re so thankful to have residents who have given their lives to the Lord’s work, and in turn, we can devote our resources to them. Thank you for all you’ve done, Mr. and Mrs. McCook. We’re blessed to call you our residents.