MEXICO—Soon after his conversion in 2009, Les Cox saw his life in South Carolina stretching out before him toward a predictable and respectable conclusion.
However, when Cox sensed a call to ministry during a winter mission trip to Mexico, he knew his path would drastically change once he returned to the States.
“I saw my life go either in the left lane with my dad’s business, or in the right lane with [God], but having no clue where that’s going to take me,” Cox said. He obediently replied, “Whatever you want, Lord. I’m listening.”
In 2010, God’s calling led Cox from the mission field in Mexico to Fort Worth, Texas, to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the College at Southwestern. This spring, he participated in Revive This Nation, which sent him to Mexico, Mo., where God further affirmed his ministry calling.
Cox followed God’s leading in sermon delivery, knocking on doors in the neighborhood, and sharing his faith at the local mall. Despite balancing the pressures of schoolwork as well as sermon preparation to wrap up his first full year of college, he resolved in his heart to give it his all, even though he had only preached four sermons in his entire life before stepping behind Littleby Baptist Church’s pulpit.
David Rice, Littleby Baptist’s pastor, currently battles advanced stage prostate cancer and has exceeded his doctors’ predicted life expectancy. Still, he devotes the time God gives him to traveling on mission trips to India and the Philippines, caring for his wife, and serving his congregation. Rice prayed specifically for a young preacher they could care for and support, but found God used Cox to encourage their own hearts as well.
“Les was just an old preacher boy, common as an old boot, you know? But he loved the Lord Jesus, and he let Him use him. It was exactly what we were needing,” Rice said. “Les had come to our church ready for revival.”
Cox received a taste of full-time ministry, preaching several times in front of the same group of people and spending time with Rice’s congregation. The experience solidified his call to ministry.
“I preached four sermons to these people, and they were still loving me and still telling me every night that God was talking to them in different ways,” Cox said. “One lady came up to me after I preached from Matthew on worries and said, ‘You must have been reading my diary.’ It’s constant encouragement to me that God was speaking through me and using me.”
Cox received further encouragement about his ministry future when the church recognized his calling, licensed him to preach, and sent him home with a love offering.
“With the man of God that [Rice] is, I’m honored he would license me,” Cox said. “He was a great example of a man who loved God, loved his wife, and loved his church.”
Cox will start his sophomore year in the fall, pursuing his B.A. in Humanities with a concentration in missions. He remains in contact with Rice for prayer support and encouragement in this time of preparation. Though unclear on the location and the details, Cox is sure God can lead him, like a shepherd, exactly where He intends him to go.
“He’s reminding me to take one day at a time when I’m here at school. In order to get there, I have to focus here,” Cox said. “I’ve been called to preach, and I’m hoping to share the Gospel. I feel like if you have a heart for the Lord and if He’s called you to do something, that’s all you really need.” (This article first appeared in the summer edition of Southwestern News, a publication of Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.)
REBECCA CARTER/contributing writer