Sixty years in the same job… sounds virtually impossible but it’s not! It was October 14, 1952 that Stella Sluder, a single lady promised in marriage, boarded the Andrew Jackson ship in Mobile, Alabama bound for Japan and arrived some five weeks later on November 17. Upon arrival Stella remembers, “I was overjoyed to be in the land of my calling.”
Little did she know that this was the beginning of a long career in a land which she calls “home." For all these years, Stella has opened her home and heart to Japanese people who seek fulfillment in an empty life bound with customs and traditions based on Shinto and Buddhist belief systems.
A year after arriving in Japan her fiancé, Ralph Cox, arrived and they were soon married. Ralph and Stella have been involved in various church planting ministries over the years, but mostly in Western Japan, based in Takamatsu on Shikoku Island.
They were an amazing team used by God to plant many churches in Japan. A TEAM Horizons article (Vol. 4 Issue 1, 2009) puts it this way: “Statistics of the Coxes ministry are incredible: 90 new churches, 70 Japanese full-time workers in the ministry, 50 career missionaries, and hundreds of short-term workers.”
And then there is the Takamatsu Christian Center from which many of these churches were birthed. Later a seminary was established in the Center to train Japanese lay people for ministry. Stella worked alongside Ralph, planting these churches and raising their family. She has served an untold number of meals and cups of tea to co-workers and Japanese alike, and taught hospitality seminars, cooking classes, and Bible classes. She began the evangelistic annual “Ladies’ Luncheon” which will hold its 50th luncheon in May 2013.
As Stella reflects on these past sixty years, she passionately states, “His love and faithfulness have never failed me. Being His representative in this dark land with His grace and the interest, prayers and gifts from supporters has made this possible. I am very indebted.”
In reading Stella’s first newsletter (below), you can see that the passion she has for the Lord and the salvation of the lost in Japan hasn’t changed sixty years later as she continues her ministry. We wish to thank Stella for this contagious passion, her example to us and the hospitality she has given to so many Japanese and missionaries over the years.
Through the work of Ralph and Stella, not only have many entered the Kingdom of Heaven, but God has used them to lead many people to come to Japan as missionaries. At our TEAM Japan Annual Conference last summer, we recognized Stella’s sacrificial service over these past sixty years and asked all those present who had some kind of connection with the Coxes to come forward for the above photo. This is a small representation of her many ‘kids’ who were called to Japan!
Stella concludes, “Only eternity will reveal all that God has accomplished in these sixty years. Let us give thanks. Faithful is HE WHO calls you, who also will do it!"
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