WHEN you hear the name Donna Cox, you immediately think "minister." While she is a minister of government, she is now also a religious minister.
She is the Minister of Communications in the Dr Keith Rowley-led administration.
Cox was ordained by and received her certificate of licence from the Prophetic Church of Antioch, Inc at Hollis, New York. Before becoming a minister, she was PNM MP for Laventille East/Morvant after the 2007 general election, and Minister of State in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs. In 2008 she was made Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security.
She was re-elected in the 2010 general election, but the party was then in Opposition.
What makes a minister become a minister? For Cox, faith and spirituality have always been a way of life, especially growing up in Laventille with her mother.
In an interview at the Ministry of Communications, Lady Young Road, Morvant, Cox said, “From small, for whatever reason, I always liked and was interested in the things of God as a child.”
She credited her mother, Amelia Cox, for this. As the only girl among seven children,
there was a Sunday school in the area, she was sent to it. She enjoyed going.
“I liked to sing, so I liked to go and sing all of the choruses (in church). And when we had Christmas pageants, the chorales and stuff, Donna was in front singing.”
Cox would go to an Anglican church – and any church's Sunday school.
“There was a Sunday school that started in the morning at the Open Bible Church in Laventille, and it was opposite the Anglican church I was going to and my friends were going there,” she said.
She started going too.
At nine, Cox told her mother she wanted to be saved. While her mother agreed, she also wanted her to be confirmed, as confirmation is an integral part of the Anglican faith. So Cox attended both the Anglican and Open Bible churches. Over the years she joined the choir, the youth group and other church groups.
“These things made me have a personal relationship with God, where I felt that I could talk to Him just as I am talking to you. I felt when I was in trouble or something happened I could talk to Him.”
She said a lot of things happened which, in hindsight, demonstrated to her that the hand of God was working in her life. One particular incident solidified Cox’s faith. Her mother told her the story.
“My mother had five boys and then she got pregnant with me. When she got pregnant with me, she was going to abort me. She did not know I was a girl and she had already paid down to do it
“My grandmother on my father’s side, they were close, and she had a dream and went to her to ask her if she was pregnant.
“My mother said no – because my father did not know either. My grandmother, who used to grow animals, told her, ‘I had a strange dream and my aunt told me to tell you what you are going to do, don’t do it...she will be a blessing to you.'
“My mother said she got so scared, but she still did not say that she was pregnant. My mother said she did not go back for her down payment. She said she felt if she did it (the abortion), she would have died, because the message came so clear.”
Cox said that was not by chance and that in itself let her know there is a God.
Today she cares for her 88-year-old mother, who is bedridden.
She became emotional when she asked, “Many people have abortions. Why was mine stopped?”
That constant presence of God in her life led Cox to the Open Bible Institute of Theology, Ruth Avenue, San Fernando, where she did a diploma in theology after her first degree in history. She always had a thirst to know more about the Bible and the Lord and decided to go to Bible school to learn more.
Back then she had no plan to become a minister or a pastor’s wife. She studied there for three years. This she pinpointed as the start of her journey.
From May 2017-July 2019, Cox was the TT Consul in New York. While there she began attending the Prophetic Church of Antioch. She said the church’s pastors and elders told her she should be ordained.
“The church I went to was a prophetic church. I think it was the pastor’s wife who came to me, and she is a prophet, and she spoke to me and said the Lord was telling her that. She got a confirmation by telling another elder, who, before coming to me, spoke among themselves.
“I also felt comfortable about it too. I accepted because I also know there was a lot for me to do and this was in preparation for the work that the Lord has for me to do.”
Each day she prays not only for herself but for TT and for those in authority. She also stressed during the interview that she was human and struggled with issues like forgiveness, but prayed about it and that helped her overcome.
Life in politics is not easy and, Cox said, once involved in politics, one goes through many things. But she often prays for wisdom to say the right things and to also know when to say it, how to say it.”
Throughout the interview, Cox quoted scripture, including her favourite verse: Philippians 4:13 which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." She said with God on her side she is the majority.
For Cox, her faith is not about religion but a personal relationship with God.
“Religion does not take you closer to the Lord. It is your personal relationship with him,” she said.
She does not minister at a specific church but ministers when asked, at different places. When Cox ministers to people she talks to those with issues, problems and prays with them where necessary. She also gives sermons and writes them out in advance. Her sermons are usually half an hour to 45 minutes long.
Her parliamentary experience helped her in her spiritual journey, she believes. It helped her have a better understanding of TT and the people. Being a parliamentarian and a minister of the gospel has made her more compassionate, intolerant of injustice and given her a love for everyone, she says.
"Being a parliamentarian and a minister of the gospel keeps me in touch with people from all walks of life. I am available to them in both capacities to assist in whatever way I can," she said.
Cox ministers to small groups of people, mainly women because she can identify with their experiences. She has not, however, been able to minister much since being appointed Minister of Communications, but will do so if asked. She is now thinking of doing a PhD in theology.
Asked if she will be a candidate again in the upcoming general election, Cox said, “I am taking my time. I am not rushing or pushing to be anywhere. I think I am praying about it, and if I am to be a candidate I will be. If I am not to be a candidate, I will not be. I do not want it to be of myself, on my strength and what I want. I want it to be what the Lord wants for me.”
Cox said she is comfortable and happy as she knows this is where the Lord wants her to be.
As for the future, she leaves it in God’s hands.