Archive for July, 2013

Mother of COGIC abuse victim dies

July 19, 2013 Leave a comment

df58270c-26f8-4105-9127-d1e309505ba7Mother Gwendolyn Fox, of Atlanta passed away on July 4th and was laid to rest after a funeral service at Cathedral of Faith COGIC on July 13th.  Her death brought to a close a long and painful chapter of woman seeking justice in a denomination unwilling to give it to her.

Mother Fox, daughter of Georgia COGIC pioneer Supt Simon Shuman, was never celebrated by the church she was born in. Rather, she became an isolated figure. To some, a “troublemaker” not because she did anything wrong but because she dared confront church leadership over a grevious injustice done to her.  Gwendolyn Fox’s son  (James) Tobias a talented musician, songwriter and choral director was sexually abused as a teen by COGIC General Board Member Bishop John Husband. Fox’s quest to seek justice for her son resulted in serious health and financial issues. Tobias passed away June 4th, 2010 in Atlanta at age 43.

Mother Fox and her story impacted me deeply.

After I appeared on a local Atlanta Christian TV station about 11 years ago, Mother Fox contacted me the next morning and asked if I would talk to her. Though tears she told me some of the story of what happened to her and her son and asked if I would visit and minister to him at the nursing facility where he resided due to incapacitation from HIV issues.  I immediately agreed to do what I could to help. After visiting with Tobias and praying for him, he later was strong enough to move out of the facility and into an apartment with Mother Fox. She hired a personal nurse to help with him.

Mother Gwen Fox wearing the prayer shawl my wife made for her. She said she wanted to get "dressed up" and take a picture in it.

Mother Gwen Fox wearing the prayer shawl my wife made for her. She said she wanted to get “dressed up” and take a picture in it.

Over the next several years, Mother Fox and Tobias became part of my family and I became part of theirs. We ate dinner together, and went to church together. My wife washed Tobias’ clothes when their washer went out, I took him to his favorite barbershop to get his hair cut. Tobias told me many times he wanted to get married and he wanted a wife “just like First Lady Dee”. She was overjoyed at the birth of my last son in 2005 and doted over him like she was his grandmother.

I accompanied a hopeful Mother Fox to see a lawyer at the Equitable Building after he agreed to review the case in an attempt to get assistance to help with Tobias’ expenses. Her hopes were dashed when after a several months of waiting the lawyer told her there was “nothing he could do”.  At the time, the two of them were living in a one bedroom apartment in Dekalb County and she frequently slept on the couch allowing her son to have the bedroom.

A treasure trove of church history, she told me that she wanted to tell me what many people did not know and asked me to write about what happened to “Toby” so people would know.  Both she and Tobias granted me first hand interviews which appeared for the first time anywhere in my 2002 book Touching A Dead Man.

I don’t have the space to write about all the conversations, prayers, tears, hopes and struggles Mother Fox shared with me, but hearing of her death brought a sense of joy to me. I know her struggle is over and she’s now with the Great Consolator.  Although she received no justice in this life, I have peaceful confidence that God is not unjust and will in his own time vindicate the cries of her heart.

Rest in the Lord, Mother.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

Keep your eyes open

tn_offenderpicsPedophiles and sex abusers hidden in church congregations depend on two things which allow them to continue their wickedness without discovery. (1) People who are indifferent and silent and (2) people who are unaware and silent. Jesus said while men slept the enemy came in came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away (Mt 13:25) .  Unless you report it, it will go unnoticed. If you see or hear something, say something. Children and those being abused are often in a state of shock or deep fear because their abuser is a man of power and popularity contrasted against their helplessness. Its your responsibility to make your church a VERY uncomfortable place for a predator to seek out victims.  The actions of sex abusers hurt everyone. Especially the church.

We may have missed some important information that others need to be aware of, so RCA always appreciates your help and watchful eyes. If you want to report a crime or case from a credible news source or public court record, use our easy iReport form.  Or if you have a personal story you want to share, click here. Personal stories, once submitted, become the property of Report COGIC Abuse.

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