Christian radio is often an unsung ministry in the UK and yet it has a huge impact across the developing world. Roger Cook’s great contribution in his many years of service for the Lord was developing radio ministry in both France and Francophone Africa.
Roger Cook will be known widely among Grace Baptist churches for his work in GBM Radio, based in Abingdon, but he and his wife Helen began their missionary service in Belgium in Christian publishing.
Roger and Helen became the first GBM missionaries to be sent into Europe by their church in Hounslow, as GBM adopted a church-based approach to mission. In 1969 they moved to Mons, where they worked to plant a church, coming face to face with the growing ‘practical atheism’ of an otherwise Catholic culture.
When they moved back to the UK for health reasons in 1981, Roger commented on Belgium and its spiritual obstacles, ‘That country needs workers who are strong and determined to break through these barriers, in order to establish churches with Spirit-transformed Belgians who will be capable of reaching out to their own people’.
Roger and Helen settled in Abingdon, where he became a GBM radio producer. His programme, Vivre la vérité (Live the truth), was aired by FEBA, TWR and HCJB, together with a growing network of other stations across Africa.
Bringing clear Bible teaching to those with less education, these programmes became a huge resource for pastors and Christians in a more oral culture with lower levels of literacy. Ably helped by his wife Helen, and a follow-up team in France, the reach of these programmes has been immense.
In his final years before retirement, Roger devoted himself to training Africans in radio production, travelling to numerous remote areas to help local Christians set up a radio station or make better programmes.
This continued beyond his retirement in 2006. Every few months Roger would travel to Paris, link up with his friend Charles Guillot and fly off together, with a suitcase full of electronics, to some remote airport.
Precarious transmitters, unreliable power supplies and African timescales became his regular experience, but through these challenges he smiled, carried on and saw God answer prayers. As equipment sprang to life, the word went out and Africans blessed him with their joy. These journeys are detailed in his book Astonished by God’s grace (2015, Upfront Publishing,160 pages, £7-49; ISBN: 978-1784562656).
He was also able to oversee the translation into French of a book called Radio production, written by a Christian BBC trainer. This was significant as nothing of this kind existed in French.
Roger suffered a heart attack in February and his health declined over the subsequent months. His final months were blessed with the knowledge that his granddaughter, who has Rett syndrome, had come to faith in Christ.
Roger died on 9 August. He leaves his wife Helen, his three children Andrew, Sean and Stéphanie, their spouses, and nine grandchildren (to whom he was known as Pops).