by Dorothy Cook
There are thousands of men and women around the world serving God whose lives he touched, either as a pastor, teacher, counselor, or as a friend. When Hollis was a second-year student at BBC, he felt that someday God was going to bring him back there to teach, but knew that he needed the pastoral experience as well as further training to prepare for that day.
In 1976, Dr. Dowell, who was president at BBC, came to preach at Highland Park Church in Chattanooga, TN, where Hollis had just completed one of his Master’s and had many credits toward a second Master’s. We spoke with him at that time and Hollis told him his desire was to teach at BBC and asked Dr. Dowell if there would be a possibility for him to come and teach. At the time, there wasn’t, but then the next year, Dr. Gillming called Hollis and asked the two of us to come to Springfield for an interview with Dr. Dowell, which we did. The feeling that Hollis had in 1957 became a reality in August 1977 and we made the move to Springfield. It was the joy of his life to teach and help others in becoming what God wanted them to be.
Following are some excerpts written in 1999 from Hollis’s own personal information as he was doing his family research. You will find his own personal testimony of his salvation in one paragraph. He was very interested in his ancestry and spent many hours on the computer compiling everything he could find tracing the Cook family back to England. He had more time to do this after retirement. He was always family oriented and loved his family dearly.
Hollis Cook Testimony
I was born into the Cook family at our family farmhouse on Route 2, Box 60, Arley, AL, located in the southern part of Winston County. Double Springs is the county seat. I weighed in at a whopping 13 pounds at birth on [August 22, 1929].
I was the family “water boy” from about age 5 until I was old enough to start doing some of the lighter farm work.
Daddy and I would go squirrel hunting when I was between three through five (1932-1935) years of age. He was transportation for me and I was hearing for him. Daddy had a moderate hearing impairment. I would listen for the hunting dog barking trail and treed and Daddy would pick me up and carry me to where the dog was barking looking up into a tree to where the squirrel was. Daddy would set me down about 30 feet from the trunk of the tree and then he would show me how to bend a small bush over and rake the branches on the dry leaves. When he gave the hand signal, Daddy would then walk to the other side of the tree, get his gun ready and then signal with his hand for me to rake the top of the bent over bush in the dry leaves. This would make the squirrel move around on Daddy’s side of the tree, and then he could shoot it for family food. In one form or another this continued to be our hunting method until I entered my first year of school.
When I was 13 years of age I had a gun mishap. Mama took me to the doctors in Jasper and in Birmingham many times. I do not think that she left my hospital room for the 6 days that I was in the hospital right after the accident. I remember seeing Mama standing by the highway, at the forks of the road near Calvin Campbell’s house, on early cold mornings waiting for us to catch the mailman for a ride to Jasper to see the doctor. I still thank her for helping me, as a 13-year-old boy, who had lost one eye and part of three fingers in a gun accident.
This gun accident happened while I was hunting by myself about a mile and a half from our house. I was hunting with our black and tan hound, Link, early one morning. There was a heavy frost and lots of dry leaves and I had on leather bottom slippers. I had an old version hammer type single barrel 12-gauge shotgun. I was walking down a rather steep hillside and slipped to the point of almost falling and dropping the gun. The hammer hit something causing it to fire. This occurred about 9:00 a.m. and it was about 2:00 p.m. when I arrived at the doctor’s office. It helps to have a strong body and a determination to live. Even though I was unsaved at the time God had plans for me and His Divine care gave me strength.
The gun mishap at age 13 changed a lot of things in my life. I knew that I would have to work harder than most of my peers because of the handicap.
I graduated from Meek High School in May 1949. I would have graduated a year earlier but for a drunk driver that ran a car into me down near Blackwater River, six to eight miles south of Curry, AL, in November 1947. I did not attend classes in the spring of 1948, but finished my course in the fall of 1948 and then went through the graduation in May 1949.
In October 1949, Rufus Wilson and I went to Florida together. I met Dorothy Lucille “Dot” Hall [b. 10-29-33 in Worth County, GA]. We were married on May 19, 1951.
We moved to Detroit, MI, in 1953 where I began working at Ford Motor Company immediately. About three months after starting at Ford I met a man by the name of Ben Rowlett. Ben was 43 years old. He and his wife, Maude, were good Christians. Through my friendship with them, Dot and I put our faith, hope, and trust in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, to forgive us of our sins, and put us into the family of God. That was on December 13, 1953. That was 44 and one half years ago (this was written in 1999). About a year and a half later, I believed in my deepest soul and spirit that God wanted me in the ministry. I thought of many reasons why I could not be a minister. I only had one eye and several of my fingers were gone. What could I do? The deep sense of a call to the ministry persisted. I talked to God about my handicaps. The call did not go away. I finally dedicated all that I had and was to my Saviour. I resigned from Ford Motor CO in August 1955 to enroll in Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. Now, 44 years later (in 1999) I am so pleased that I followed the call of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Over the years in the ministry, I pastored churches for 14 years and taught in Bible colleges for 26 years. I earned the following degrees: (Th.G.) degree in Theology, (B.Th.) Bachelor’s in Theology, (B.A.) in education, (M.A.) Master of Religious Education, (M.A.) Master in Psychology, (M.Div.) Master of Divinity, and a (Ph.D.) Doctor of Philosophy in Guidance and Counseling.
As I stated earlier, I believed that I needed to work harder, work smarter, and prepare better than most other people. This thought drove me to a high level of performance.
I served as pastor of Arley First Baptist Church in Arley, AL, for almost four years — October 1959 to August 1963. This was a great ministry for me, pastoring in my own home community. Our one child, David, was born [November 21, 1959] while I pastored there. In 1963, Dot, David, and I moved back to Springfield, MO, for me to attend another year of college. In July 1964, we moved to Grand Junction, CO, where I pastored the Galilee Baptist Church until December 1971. We then moved to Chattanooga, TN, where I attended Graduate School full time and taught part time in their Bible college and managed an office 35 hours per week. In August 1977 Dot, David, and I moved back to Springfield, MO, where I am teaching in the Baptist Bible College and Graduate school. I have had a ministry here that has exceeded all of my expectations, hopes, and dreams as a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has been good to us and I have tried to be a testimony of what God can do with a Winston County Alabama farm boy.
Dorothy Cook adds some information about the blood disorder that took Hollis’s life: There is no cure for the blood disorder Myelodysplasia (MDS, a type of lymphoma) and we knew his time was limited. He lived seven months. Hollis retired in 1999 after teaching for 22 years at BBC and we moved to Jasper in 2004 to be nearer to his family. Our son, David, who suffers with Multiple Sclerosis, lives with us. Prior to our leaving Springfield, he was so thrilled to watch David walk across the stage at the University of Texas and receive his Ph.D., which he had been working on for about 7 years as the disease had hindered his progress. Not long after we moved to Jasper, AL, Hollis began hiking in the Bankhead Forest with nephews and nieces and was totally delighted in seeing all the beautiful trees, flowers, and lots of waterfalls, and having good fellowship with the family. One trip was almost 10 miles roundtrip and since he was wearing regular tennis shoes, he ended up losing the nails on both big toes. It didn’t take him long to purchase hiking boots and they were well worn. They made trips to several other places. He missed these trips greatly in the last couple of years.
When we lived in Springfield, he would take our grandson, Chase, out to Fellows Lake and rent a boat and have fun together. They had done this several times, but during one of those times, his Grandpa was going to use the oar to push the boat up against the shore across the lake. He did not realize how deep the water was and as he pushed the oar down to what he thought was the bottom, there was no bottom and over he went into the lake. Chase was already on the shore and was really scared until he saw Grandpa came back up and was okay. Then he laughed and they have had many laughs over that all these years. When they turned the boat in at the dock, Chase (age 6 or 7) really scolded the man for giving them a different boat than they had used before, even though the man had said it was the same. Chase thought it was the boat that caused his Grandpa’s unexpected dip in the lake.
Before Hollis became ill, he enjoyed reading books that David had read and then they would discuss these together. David’s field of study was in a different area in his years of schooling and Hollis wanted to be able to discuss them in an intelligent way. He would sit by David’s bed for long periods of time while they read and studied God’s precious Word together. His delight was for me, David, or anyone else to ask him a question about a verse that we did not fully understand and for him to expound God’s Word in good simple English so we could understand. It is that precious Word that is now sustaining us through being without his earthly tabernacle. We look forward to being with him in Glory when the Lord is ready for us.
Trusting Him through it all,
298 12th Ave. N. E.
Jasper, AL 35504