Yesterday I attended the funeral of friend here in Mount Gambier.
Don Cooley was an elder of one of the other Christian churches here in town.
Of retirement age, Don had been part of a group of local pastors who have gathered most weeks for over twenty years to pray for the spread of the Gospel in our city, and to pray for each other.
Here is a (slightly edited) reflection about Don, his friendship, and his perseverance in prayer that I shared with MGPC.
I was saddened to hear about the death of Don Cooley during the last week.
Don would be known to many of you, he’s been a part of Mount Gambier and the city’s Christian community for a long time.
If you don’t know him, he embodied the character quality of meekness that we considered recently in the beatitude in Matthew 5:5.
If you don’t know him, you should know that he has been praying you. He prayed for our Church. He prayed for the fruitfulness of our mission and ministry. He prayed for each of the ministers who serve the churches of the city.
Don was among those Christian leaders who gather most Wednesday mornings of the year; either at 7.30 and then 8.00am, summer or winter, rain or shine, to pray for the work of the Gospel in Mount Gambier and beyond.
Week by week by week. I’ve been a part of that gathering for seventeen years now and Don has been a constant as different pastors have come and gone.
Having grown up in the region near KiKi, Don loved the Lord Jesus, but his peace came from the fact he knew the Lord Jesus loved him, and had been his Saviour since the age of thirteen.
Don experienced family loss and heartbreak at the deepest levels, but his constant observation was a thankfulness that he experienced them with the hope of God’s saving grace anchoring him.
He couldn’t really understand how people could endure life without that hope.
Don firmly believed that the Lord Jesus had borne all his ailments on the cross with a firmness that went beyond my understanding of what the passage in Isaiah meant; but Don’s prayers embraced deliverance from both spiritual and physical afflictions.
He’d recently had some medical issues, but reasoned that God still had a work for him to do here on earth. He was prepared to go home when called
In his late eighties, as recently as couple of weeks ago he was willing to take a secretarial position with the Minister’s Association that had become vacant.
He will be sadly missed by the Eastside Christian Church.
You should know about Don because he prayed for you, and any fruitfulness of Mount Gambier Presbyterian Church has been an answer to those prayers.
You should know Don, because for Don prayer was no little thing. As is the case in most prayer meetings, often times the pre-prayer conversation can go on and on.
Because he was so gracious (and meek) people would not be aware of it, but Don would have preferred conversation among ourselves to end and conversation with God to begin. You notice these things when you pray with someone for nearly two decades.
A few weeks ago in the midst of one of these meandering conversations one of the ministers asked Don for his opinion about the subject at hand.
I interjected at that point that rather than give his opinion Don would far rather us get on and pray instead of taking up our time with talk. It was a sentiment that Don expressed his agreement with, and then we all started to pray.
So that’s how I’ll primarily remember this meek and gracious Christian gentleman, a man dedicated to prayer and a man dedicated to working to be God’s answer to those prayers.
His life ended as a result of a heart-attack in the middle of the night.
His early activity that day had been prayer.
His last activity before the lights went out at the end of the day was prayer.
I think you should know him, because it would be good for you to thank God for his faithfulness in prayer on our behalf.
I think it would be good for you to know him because there is a need for many more like Don. There is a need for simple, meek, ordinary Christians who will carry out the dedicated and extraordinary work of prayer.
Of praying for the work of the Gospel, praying for Christians, praying for the Churches of the city.
Hebrews 13:7 – Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.