“If We Did Not Go, Who Would Go?”

A  young man who had lived on the southside of Indianapolis, ending up for help at Lester Roloff’s Lighthouse for men from whence he would migrate to Tennessee Temple College in the early 1970’s, and a quiet, shy young lady from Prosperity, West Virginia, also a student at TTC at that same time, met, fell in love and married in 1973 with the purpose and plan to serve God somewhere on this circle called Earth as missionaries.  Their first choice was to go to Trinidad and Tobago, so having raised necessary support, they applied for visas to those gospel-thirsty islands, only to discover that their visas were not readily forthcoming; so, they went instead to work with missionaries in St. Thomas while waiting for the visa green light to be granted.  They served faithfully there, helping in a Christian camp and in the Blue Water Bible College, and welcomed while there their youngest (of three) son into the world.  With visas finally in hand, they shipped a 55-gallon drum, containing their “earthly belongings” to Trinidad where they immediately were thrust into the leadership of a local church but, having been there only a year, were forced to leave because of unrest generated there following the Jim Jones incident.

“Where to go?”  Well, upon the counsel of their mission board, Steve and Treasa Fox accepted the challenge of moving to the Philippines to assist in the ministry of five mission churches their first two years there, and then for the next two years planting a church themselves.  During those years of serving in missions in the Far East, God began to stir Steve and Treasa’s hearts about the need to take the gospel to Native American Indians in the southwest United States.

Having announced their desire to follow God’s leading to work with Native Americans, Steve and Treasa met with some well-meaning warnings about the slow, trying and tedious work they would find in working on this mission field, and they were warned about the discouragement and difficulties.  Treasa said, “When God called us to work among the Native Americans, we knew little about the ministry other than it was slow and discouraging work.  Many…thought the Lord could use us much more effectively somewhere else.  However, if we did not go, who would?” This couple who from their earliest days of marriage had abandoned themselves to doing God’s will whatever or where ever that would entail assuredly believed that their previous training in God’s prep school on the islands and in the Philippines had been on purpose to prepare them for this ministry which would indeed in the beginning seem almost “useless” and fruitless.

But God reminded the Fox duo that He had called them, had directed them and was fully able to sustain them.  Many of the people on the Salt Indian Reservation where they began their Native American evangelization were alcoholics or drug addicts.  It was a work that would demand patient perseverance, purposeful plodding and plowing while friendships with the tribal residents were being forged through Steve and Treasa’s serving their neighbors and helping them with basic life skills.  Steve donned his work belt and repaired roofs and broken-down autos and anything mechanical, over the course of time winning the confidence and trust of those amongst whom he and his faithful helpmeet lived.  It was as “slow as molasses” but in time would yield dividends not measured in substance but in souls.  Steve often said what he was doing was “love in work clothes.”  

After earnestly and faithfully plowing and planting with good gospel seed for 22 years, Steve was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007, but his work was not finished; in fact, as he battled cancer and endured life draining treatments for the next eight years, Steve intensified his efforts resulting in many people trusting Christ as Savior and enrolling as disciples in Bible courses Steve would teach so they would be grounded in truth. In a handwritten note he sent to his sending church in October of 2012 Steve wrote, “God has used this cancer to minister in so many ways.  I don’t even pray that God would heal us anymore.  I just pray for His will in the whole situation.  Some people don’t understand that, but if God can be glorified, I’m cool with it.”   On June 12, 2015, Steve Fox, the once troubled teen who grew up in his Dad’s roller-skating rink on the near southside of Indianapolis, was graduated to glory.  He and his steady helpmeet of 42 years had faithfully labored through the ups and downs, dreams and disappointments, victories and defeats, thick and thin, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, never forgetting that initial question that they answered positively before God:  “If we don’t go, who will?” They did go and the value of their steadfast perseverance on a challenging mission field, loving and laboring with and for our Native Americans, can be aptly and succinctly summarized in the words of a teenager whose life, one of many, Steve and Treasa touched indelibly:  “Pastor and Mrs. Fox have played an enormous role in my spiritual growth…,” and in the words of another who said, “I am honored to have learned and served under the Christian teachings of Pastor and Mrs. Fox.  They modeled faithfulness, commitment, service and love for the Lord.”

We can only thank God, as Steve, now with His Savior, and Treasa would want us to do, that the Holy Spirit hunted, hounded and hauled into the Good Ship Grace a troubled youth who was guided and guarded by His skillful hand to the Lighthouse in Corpus Christi and then on to Tennessee Temple College, and that the same Holy Spirit took a young lady from Prosperity, West Virginia, who marveled at the thought that God would do anything through her, to a place where their paths would merge one day, eventuating in the two becoming one with each other and one in the single-hearted desire to take the Good News to peoples who had never before heard it.  We can all rejoice that God preserved forever on the hearts of this young couple those words, “If we don’t go, who will go?”

Go ye therefore, and teach all  nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matt. 28:18-20)  

P.S.  Treasa has recently accepted a proposal of marriage and by God’s grace and in His will, she  will soon open a new chapter in the journal of her walk with God.

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