Edwin Louis Cole, pioneer of the modern-day men’s movement and author of the best-selling book Maximized Manhood, died Aug. 27 after a short bout with bone-marrow cancer. He was 79.
During the explosion of men’s ministry in the 1990s, Cole became known as the father of the modern Christian men’s movement and was a mentor to Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney. Cole’s Christian Men’s Network has ministered to millions of men through events, retreats, church services, videos, radio, television, books, tapes and satellite broadcasts. The ministry has representatives in more than 210 countries.
At age 57, Cole stepped away from a successful church-ministry career to begin a men’s ministry–despite objections by critics and some in his circle who said he should be thinking about retirement and providing for his family. He began in 1979 one of the few ministries specifically for men.
In his final media interview, conducted by New Man magazine a few weeks before his death, Cole explained: “When I launched out in this with nothing but a vision, they were all telling me…I should be thinking about things other than ministry. But I was consumed with the revelation that God gave me…to command men to repent of sex sins.”
A former pastor, missionary, evangelist and TV-station manager, Cole was instrumental in creating the Royal Rangers program in the Assemblies of God and won two local Emmy Awards for TV specials created by his church.
He believed that taking risks was part of being a Christian: “If you don’t want to walk by faith and you don’t want to take risks…you won’t be on the cutting edge of anything!” he said.
Cole was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago while being treated for a broken back. He collapsed on Aug. 25 and was listed in critical condition, prompting friends worldwide to rush to his side.
He is survived by his three children, Paul, Lois and Joann. They said their father’s passion for life and his ability to take risks helped him build a spiritual legacy.
“I think God looked at my dad and said, ‘This guy is passionate enough that he’ll go at this,'” said son Paul. “That’s what he did–traveling hundreds of thousands of miles in a van with boxes of tapes.”
Cole was buried in Newport Beach, Calif., alongside his wife, Nancy. The Cole family is accepting donations for The Heritage Project, which is cataloging Cole’s books and other resources. Donations can be sent to The Heritage Project, P.O. Box 93234, Southlake, TX 76092.