Connie Cox was a child of the Great Depression. Born September 7, 1926, she grew up as an only child with her parents in the poor mountain town of Covington, Virginia. She and her parents would never have described themselves as poor – they just didn’t have any money. So Connie learned early in life to be content with whatever God gave her and to accept people for who they are. Her family did not have many material possessions, but relied on a strong faith in Jesus. That faith permeated every part of their lives.
Connie used to tell how she and her parents gave sandwiches to hoboes and vagrants who knocked on their doors during the depression years. Her parents instilled giving and tithing (giving 10% of your income) as an integral part of their family life. From her parents then she learned generosity.
There was no materialistic bone in her body. What husband has to beg his wife to spend money on new clothes? Connie’s husband Walter did. Connie took what life offered her with grace and optimism. She was generous, sweet and kind. Nine years ago, when her husband Walter suddenly died, she lost the love of her life, her house and her bed all on the same day. She was hardly able to walk, so she had to be moved into a tiny room in the health care unit of Cedarfield Home in Richmond, Virginia where she lived her remaining days. She rarely complained although she suffered from much physical pain and loneliness. She was never bitter. Instead, people came to her to be ministered to by her spirit of encouragement.
Connie’s older son Scott Cox remembers “Mom was a warrior for Christ. She told us when we were very young she was determined that her boys would be in heaven with her. She, my grandmother and our aunt Mary Garland Johnston made sure that my brother and I knew Jesus and were well discipled in the faith. Mom led numerous Bible studies and taught Sunday School to teenagers in the 1960s. She championed biblical faithfulness. She was president of the women of the church and an ardent prayer.”
Connie’s younger son Rob Cox recalls “My earliest memories are of Mom teaching us morning devotions, making us memorize Bible verses and the children’s catechism (which was very painful). We read the Bible every morning before school and said our prayers with her before bed. I remember mom doing devotions every day and studying for her Sunday School lessons which she taught for decades. Mom was instrumental in laying the foundation for my brother’s and my faith. After my brother and I became followers of Jesus, we had many spirited discussions about scripture and the Bible. My dad was the leader of the family, but my mom was the spiritual rock. She led all of us with her unmovable belief in Jesus and answered prayer.”
“My mom made sure that my brother and I tithed from every allowance and every job we had. Mom started a food pantry and a clothing ministry in our community of South Boston, Virginia in the early 1970s. Nobody had ever heard of that before in our home town.”
“In the 1960s and 1970s, the culture did not support loving people of other races and classes. My mom was very counter-cultural. She went out of her way to speak to people who waited on her – the cashier at the grocery store – the local seamstress – our housekeeper – or her hairdresser. She considered all of them to be her closest friends.”
“One time I opened up my home town newspaper. There on the front page were my mom and dad standing in front of our house with a local girl scout troop – all African-American. The troop had gone door to door in a white community to raise money for new uniforms. Mom and Dad told them they would pay for a new uniform for each of the girl scouts. That was so unusual and that is our legacy.”
“Mom taught me to live out my faith in every part of my life. To depend on God in all circumstances was paramount. She used to say ‘God makes no mistakes.’ To her teenage grandchildren she would say “Make sure you marry a Christian!”
Connie’s granddaughter Lauren reminisced “Nanny always spoke of her faith with unwavering conviction. It was like the air that she breathed. She trusted in the Lord and she vocalized her faith with everyone who came in contact with her. Our Nanny used to tell us growing up ‘you have to know who you are, what you believe in and where you’re going.’”
Her granddaughter Maggie said “Nanny was the best woman I’ve ever known. She taught me to believe in God, not in coincidences. Nanny wasn’t just my grandma – she was my go-to-girl. Connie Cox was a rare breed. Her heart was devoted to the Lord. I know she’s in heaven, dancing with Jesus, as happy as can be.”
Connie died May 12, 2020 at the age of 93. I’ve written this remembrance based on the remarks her sons Scott Cox and Rob Cox and their daughters Lauren and Maggie shared at a memorial service held at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia last week. I’ve written it because Connie’s life exemplified so much what we want to encourage others to do through the ministry Me and My House in Mission. She spoke God’s word wherever she went, engaging her children with the message of the gospel. She prayed for and with her household members. She lived generously and taught her family to do the same. She showed hospitality to strangers. She immersed herself and her closest loved ones deeply in the community of God’s people, the living fellowship of Jesus Christ. She spoke of her faith in Jesus as she moved outside her cultural and social world to embrace with love those different from herself.
In concluding his remarks about his mother, Rob Cox, a member of the board of Me and My House in Mission said “Mom, we will never forget you, or how you molded, taught, prayed for and encouraged each of us into who we are today.”
In Me and My House in Mission, we want to help people embrace their family as their mission field. Connie Cox took this to heart. She lived it. She has now completed her mission on earth. We take comfort in believing that she now is hearing the words of our Lord: “Well done good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master.”
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