Husband, Father, Leader, Author, Pastor 1922-2002
“The Father of the Christian Men’s Movement”
Ed Cole established a heritage that will influence generations, launched from a mission statement that propelled his life and ministry: “I have been called to speak with a prophetic voice to the men of this generation and commissioned with a ministry majoring in men to declare a standard for manhood, and that standard is that ‘Manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous.’”
“…to declare a standard for manhood, and that standard is that ‘Manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous.’”
Born in Dallas, Texas, Edwin Louis Cole was taken to Los Angeles by his mother, Florence, when he was just four years old after a doctor told her he would not survive without the sea air and sun to heal a severe case of scarlet fever.
In Los Angeles, where his mother attended L.I.F.E. Bible School, Dr. Cole grew up in Angeles Temple, founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. He was often an actor in Sister Aimee’s famed “illustrated sermons.” He remembered witnessing the miraculous throughout the Depression years at the historic Angeles Temple and on Skid Row where he played a trumpet with street corner witnessing teams.
Until her death at age 96, Florence Cole was a warrior in prayer and evangelism, founding several churches and preaching on street corners and in missions on Skid Row for fifty years, well into her 70s.
After falling away from the church and serving in World War II (picture), Dr. Cole met and married a fellow member of the Coast Guard, Nancy Corbett of Brookline, Massachusetts. Florence Cole steadfastly prayed for her son’s and his new wife’s dedication to Christ. Dr. Cole returned to the faith of his mother, then led his bride into the Kingdom as well, and immediately returned to his roots in street witnessing, leading dozens of Marines stationed nearby to Christ.
Within two years of his conversion, Dr. Cole accepted the pastorate of a church in the mountains of Northern California. Ten years later, Dr. Cole became the first full-time district men’s minister for a major denomination.
Unwilling to settle for pulpit successes, Dr. Cole spent the next two decades pastoring, evangelizing and taking missions trips for months at a time, as well as studying, praying and seeking God.
After pastoring, evangelizing, missionary travels and a career in Christian television, it was in February 1980, at a men’s retreat in the mountains of Oregon, where God gave Dr. Cole a “word,” that Israel’s five sins are those which today still keep men from their personal “Land of Promise.”
The response to repent was so compelling that, within two months, the first citywide men’s rally was held. Drawing only 38 men, the men’s movement was nonetheless started, and four years later, 7,800 men attended the first National Christian Men’s Event in the Houston, Texas.
In July 1980, Campbell McAlpine prophesied that Dr. Cole’s budding men’s ministry would become “a new threshing instrument with a sharp cutting edge,” based on Isaiah 41:15. At that time, Christians were focused on the ministry of pastors, not men’s ministry. By January 1981, Dr. Cole was still ministering with two Christian television networks, acting as a chancellor for a school of ministry in San Diego, helping establish a worldwide radio ministry and pastoring a congregation. On April 24 1981, at a meeting in California, again God used a choice servant to bring direction. George Otis, Sr. said, “The ministry is running late.”
With twenty-four hours, Dr. Cole resigned every ministry, including the church. The following day he purchased an IBM typewriter, and the ministry to men was underway. In July 1981, the office moved from the kitchen to the Cole’s garage, then finally to rented office space in Corona del Mar, California. In September 1984, the operations moved to the Dallas, Texas area, where Dr. and Mrs. Cole moved in 1993 and spent their last ten years of life and ministry, surrounded by children and grandchildren.
Over one hundred years have passed since Florence Cole’s birth, over 80 years since the birth of Edwin Louis Cole. With an ironic twist reminiscent of those found in the Gospel, this woman’s great faith and tenacity in prayer helped launch one of the greatest Christian movements of our time — a men’s ministry that spans the globe and has helped influence dozens, if not hundreds, of other ministries to men and leaders.
The exhilarating worship, powerful altar calls, thousands of salvations and open repentance at men’s events worldwide have changed men, families, communities and nations. Men’s events still occur literally around the world. These events have produced fruit of quality, as seen in the lives of the spiritual sons and grandsons of the ministry.
Through driven, deliberate purpose and focused prayer, this venture of faith was initiated by God, multiplied through ministry, launched by His Spirit and sustained by the “word of His power.” It is God’s ministry for generations.