Grace Place is situated about 14 kilometres from a small town of Vaalwater, adjoined by a larger township of about 70,000 people. It is here that Stu and Marilyn ministered together and now Marilyn carries on with feeding of up to 700 children every Wednesday and discipling and teaching youth who are and will be the leaders in God’s work here.
Since 2001, Marilyn has been sharing the gospel and a meal with children in Leseding, the township near her of about 70,000 with approximately 70 per cent unemployment. This began as a ‘soup kitchen’ in which we actually served soup. But when summer came and it was too hot for soup, the menu was changed to peanut butter and jam sandwiches and fresh milk. Lethabo Kid’s Club is where the children know they will hear God’s message, sing praises, and have a substantial meal.
You should see them running to get there!
The youth are a special part of her weekly ministry. God is at work in their lives, and many are developing into leaders in
Hospitality has always been a major part of Cook’s ministry and Marilyn continues to host the youth, visiting missionaries, others who have come to help her and work in the ministry. For this, Grace Place, her home is ideal in providing a quiet place to draw near to the Lord and experience His beautiful creation.
The history of Mission to South Africa goes back 45 years to when Stu and Marilyn Cook and their two young daughters, Connie and Cathie, boarded an old freighter with all their goods and car and spent 24 days at sea without a port. That’s when you realize how far you are from your home and roots!
The first years were spent in evangelizing and church planting in a suburb of Johannesburg. Marilyn and the little girls met all the neighbors and invited them to Bible Studies and then church as we soon obtained a church building. Stu taught and preached and soon a growing congregation was a reality.
During the first furlough in 1970, Stu obtained his Master’s degree in counseling and philosophy and we returned to another suburb of Johannesburg and again began church in our home. It was then, when our home was bursting at the seams, and we prayed for a big house, that we found property on Crown Mines – the old staff quarter with 75 rooms – and rented it for less than our house payments. And, Aletheia Christian Centre was born! Our first intention for the property was Christian education, but soon the counseling (Stu had received his Masters in counseling, remember) swallowed up the original intention and we found ourselves in a ‘graduate course’ in the ministry, dealing with alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, those with demonic problems.
Now when the ministry had taken this turn and every room was filled, Crown Mines gave us notice – we had one year to find other premises. We looked, we enquired, but only in the last two weeks before we had to move did we find an empty residential hotel that would accommodate the bulging ministry. We found ourselves in Berea, the suburb next to Hillbrow the high crime area of the central city with about 85 rooms, huge dining room and institutional kitchen, large hall that had once been known as ‘the silver ballroom’, now with ceilings painted black and all the residue of the last party, broken glasses, carpet reeking of tobacco and alcohol. And we were buying it! Our monthly rent would be R2000 whereas Crown Mines was R200. The Lord led and He provided and we never missed a rent payment.
At first we rented rooms as a Christian residential hotel, then we qualified as a social welfare organization and soon the rooms were filled with the needy and the hurting – about 90 persons. The big hall was repainted and made a lovely venue for the church.
The ministry had developed as an extension of our family and our daughters continued to work with us. Connie married Billy, Cathie married Richard. Then the Lord gave us another daughter, Kathleen and a son.
Through the years we had people with every kind of problem and we continued to grow and learn – sometimes the hard way. Many came to know the Lord and many went away. During this time, Stu developed his Insight Seminars and wrote 'For Crying Out Loud’ and ‘Universe Lost’. After 21 years, we sold that property as Stu and I needed to get into ministry that was not so demanding 24/7.
We moved, or I should say ‘were moved’ as we were on furlough, to a lovely house in a suburb where the ministry could continue, though without the accommodation. Billy and Connie and their boys moved with us and the responsibility of the Johannesburg ministry was turned over to them. In 2001 we moved to our farm in Limpopo Province – not a working farm, a place for quiet where Stu could do writing. Two more books were written, ‘The Thought that Counts’ and ‘The Principle of the Thing’ before Stu went to be with the Lord in 2010.