Hardworking and responsible from his youth, Roy Lee Kossie, Jr., was born July 4, 1932, in Jefferson Davis Hospital, Houston, TX, to native Houstonian Millie Ann Tyrous (February 2, 1910-December 30, 1997), and Roy Kossie, Sr. (August 7, 1901-December 6, 1965), a third generation Texan from Brenham.  Roy and his six siblings were raised in Ryan’s Addition on property that the Tyrous family had owned since the late 1800s:  Otis DeWalt, Tommie Lee Jackson (May 30, 1930-July 6, 2015), George Richard Kossie, John Elmus Kossie, Hughie Kossie (December 18, 1940-November 7, 1940), and Wilma Jean Davis (July 9, 1941-December 30, 2011).

Young Roy started working at age six.  By his teenage years, he held a steady job as a beef boner at Atkins Grocery Store on Liberty Rd.  There he met the elegant love of his life, Barbara Lessie Linton, a native of Opelousas, LA.  He and Barbara attended Houston’s historic Phyllis Wheatley High School.  The sweethearts married on August 20, 1952, and bore nine uniquely gifted children:  Larry, Viki, Isaiah, Simmie, Shere, Sherman, Gerald, Karen, and Kimberly.

Born to Build: The Life and Legacy of Bishop Roy Lee Kossie, Jr.

(July 4, 1932-January 22, 2018)

More children meant Roy had to bring home not only “the bacon,” but also plenty of beef for his young family. He found gainful employment at Swift Packing House, where his earnings were determined by the pound.  Through sheer strength, determination and skill, Kossie earned a reputation as the “best beef boner in Texas.”  He took full advantage of the flexibility his position afforded by working from 5:00 a.m. to noon, which permitted him to commit the rest of the day to building the ministry.

Kossie’s pathway to ministry was God-ordained.  He and Barbara were raised in the Methodist tradition out of which the Holiness movement sprang in the late 19th century.   But he was introduced to the Holiness/Pentecostal tradition by his paternal grandmother, Mother Mary Kossie Kizzee, a native of Brenham, TX.  Kizzee was a powerful, pioneering Church of God in Christ evangelist known for her healing ministry. He believed Mother Kizzee prayed a special prayer for him because he had taken some of his childhood earnings and bought her a brand new pair of Brogan shoes.  Kizzee’s early influence set the stage for Roy’s later experience with Holiness/Pentecostalism in 1953.  At age 21, he gave his life to the Lord at a tent revival hosted by the late Reverend A. A. Allen, a proponent of the Latter Rain Movement, for which Joel 2:28 was a foundational scripture:  “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.  Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”   To a family man, a divine promise that included his children was irresistible.    

Not long after his conversion, Kossie joined Bible Way Church of Holiness on Hirsch Rd., an independent African American Holiness church, founded by the late Bishop Jimmie Lee Parker (August 30, 1920-September 22, 2016). He and his wife became grounded in the faith through fasting, prayer, consecration, and faithful church attendance.  A zealous young minister in his twenties, Kossie also gained practical and spiritual wisdom from Bishop Parker.  When he told Bishop Parker he wanted to “go out on the field!”  Bishop Parker admonished, “Son, God ain’t calling you too far with all those children.” Accepting wise counsel, Kossie began working out churches respectively in nearby Humble and Cleveland.

In Houston, Kossie served for two years as the assistant pastor at Miracle House of Prayer, which was founded the late Pastor Leola Crawford, the first African American woman to establish an Independent Holiness/Pentecostal Church in Houston.  By 1955, he and his wife had established a ministry through prayer meetings at home and were ordained together as pastor and co-pastor—a development ahead of its time. It was in their first home, which Roy built from the ground up, that the blueprint for his ministry was laid out by "Architect of the Universe."  As Kossie prayed about his family in his “prayer closet” (a one-car garage), he entreated, “Lord, I need your help.  I have nine children to raise.  My sons could turn out to be muggers and robbers, and my daughters, bad women.  The devil could come at me nine ways!  Lord, I need your guidance to rear these children.” God answered, “Son, if you obey me and do my will, I will save all nine of your children, and not a one of them will die and go to hell.”  From that moment, the deal was sealed.  Kossie was determined to uphold his end of the bargain, knowing that God would definitely uphold his. 

Kossie’s early evangelistic efforts in the 1950s and 1960s led to church plantings in Humble, Cleveland, and Houston, TX.  Harvest Time Revival Center” emerged from their efforts in Houston.  He began to hold church services in a variety of locations, including an edifice on Green and Meadows in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward.  Seeking greater stability, they prayed for a permanent place of worship for their growing congregation, Kossie felt compelled to establish a church in the heart of Fifth Ward in the old Lyons Theater building, located at 4036 Lyons Avenue between two famous night clubs:  The Black Cat (a.k.a. “Briscoes”) and the Four X, where few believed he would get any souls saved. They were wrong.  The church owns the properties where the Black Cat and Four X once stood, and the ministry continues to lead souls to the love and light of Jesus Christ.

The Lord admonished him not to look at the condition of the building or the region because the Fifth Ward area was going to be revitalized. Accordingly, the Kossie’s and their congregation embraced the promise of renewal and made steady progress throughout the 1960s.  Bishop Kossie worked so tirelessly to rebuild the edifice with his hands that he gained the nickname “Noah” among selected residents.  In addition to rebuilding the edifice, he also built the pulpit from which he preached at least 9,672 sermons and the altars upon which he and others prayed at least 6,448 corporate prayers.  The noted numbers do not include the countless sermons his family heard at home, where almost anything might serve as a springboard for a sermon, from the rising price of gasoline to a 15-round prize fight. 

Inspired by a dream that Pastor Leola Crawford confirmed, Kossie demonstrated his ability to build alliances by establishing “The Interdenominational Full Gospel Fellowship of Concerned Pastors,” which grew to include fourteen member churches. Kossie sought to enhance his exegetical and leadership skills by completing three years of coursework at Southern Bible College in the late 1970s.   His professional growth was mirrored by that of his biological and spiritual children, whose increasingly wide range of spiritual, educational, and professional experiences allowed them to enhance Latter Day’s outreach programs. 

Bishop Kossie’s commitment to progress is perhaps best expressed in the practical steps he took to prepare for church expansion through land acquisition.  In 1966, when Latter Day was established, the church owned only the 50 X 100 lot upon which the edifice stands.  Thanks to his wisdom and the faithfulness of core congregants, Latter Day now owns more than twenty parcels for church work, but not without a challenge.  True to prophecy, the church “came to the attention of City Fathers,” but in a way that Bishop Kossie did not expect.  The Fifth Ward region had transitioned since the church’s establishment in 1966.  By 2015 gentrification was afoot.  Areas once blighted by the impacted by black flight to the suburbs and the City of Houston’s divestment from such regions were now prime real estate for investors who aimed to profit handsomely from Houston’s population boom.  Likewise, the Houston Housing Authority set out to acquire selected church properties through eminent domain. Bishop Kossie and his congregation resisted.   The drama that unfolded was the last great battle that Kossie, then 83 years old, waged to protect “God’s house” even as he warred against a debilitating illness that attacked his “earthly tabernacle.”

Indeed, every stage of Latter Day’s development, including the City’s eventual lawsuit against Latter Day, reaffirmed the divine message God had given Bishop Kossie years ago as he struggled to refurbish the building that became Latter Day: “Son, your problem is that you want to tell your story.  Son, you can’t tell your story.  I am telling mine by the way I am developing this work. You are not behind. You will have to wait until the children grow legs.”  Yes, the fight against eminent domain required the “legs” of his biological and spiritual children, particularly their knees.  As they united in prayer and faith, the Lord sent local scholars, professionals, ministers, and lawyers to the rescue. Doug Stringer (Somebody Cares America), Frank Rush (Houston Praise and Worship Center), Jimmy Holley, and Johnny McGowan, Jr. (Lakewood Church) offered their support.  Liberty Institute (now First Liberty) provided legal support.  Latter Day lost round one of their battle with the Houston Housing Authority, but eventually won the war.  As Liberty Institute prepared to challenge the decision at the county level, the City of Houston dropped its lawsuit against the church November 2, 2015 (Case no. 1063295, filed November 11, 2015). 

The external attack against Latter Day ceased, but the fierce attack against Bishop Kossie’s physical temple intensified.  Determined to outlive the doctor’s prognosis and continue building the ministry, he resisted the onslaught with fasting, prayer, and praise.  When his hands failed him, he dictated his messages.  When his sight dimmed, he had others read the scriptures for him.   When his feet failed, he had others run victory laps on his behalf.   Day after day, he declared himself triumphant no matter how difficult the struggle.  He preached, prayed, and praised from one healthcare facility to the other.  He led workers in the prayer of repentance and prophesied words of encouragement and consolation.  He continued to share building plans with his children and encouraged them to move forward with the ministry.  They witnessed firsthand “the spirit of the man sustaining him in sickness” (Proverbs 18:14).  In early December 2017, after miraculously surviving a two-week battle that doctors thought would take his life, Bishop Kossie’s words, though few, were highly seasoned.  He said just enough to establish Latter Day’s theme for 2018, “An Open Door to the Anointing.”  He said just enough to let caregivers know “God’s got me!”  As his earthly tabernacle dissolved, he slept away peacefully January 22, 2018, 3:16 a.m., knowing that he had “a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). He entered knowing that he had wholeheartedly followed the Lord and that God had upheld his promise to save all nine of his children.  They are already “repairing the broken walls” and “restoring the streets with dwellings” (Isaiah 58:12) by “proclaiming life, restoration, and hope through Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Roy Lee Kossie, Jr., was preceded in death by his lovely wife, Barbara L. Kossie (May 11, 1932-November 14, 2001) to whom he was married for 50 years.  He was also preceded in death by siblings Hughie Kossie, Wilma Jean Davis, and Tommie Lee Jackson.  He is survived by three brothers, Otis DeWalt, George Richard Kossie, and John Elmus Kossie; nine children, Larry (Rhonda), Viki Duncan, Isaiah (Monica), Simmie (Rufus), Shere (Gary), Sherman (Charlotte), Gerald (Conya), Karen (Oleg), and Kimberly (Kerry); twenty-four grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren, and a host of relatives and friends.  The institutional fruit of his ministry include Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church (Pastor Viki Duncan) and member churches of the International Full Gospel Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, including Miracle House of Prayer # 1, Houston (Bishop Lorenzo and Co-Pastor Lois Colement); Miracle House of Prayer # 2, Arcola (Pastor Eddie and Ineta Robinson), C.C. Driver Revivals, Cleveland, TX (Pastor Gary and Shere Kossie Driver); New Life Revival (Pastor Rickey and LaTaunya Davis), New Creation Nations, Nacogdoches, TX (Pastor Sherman and Charlotte Kossie), and By His Stripes Family Outreach Ministries, Humble, TX (Pastors Thomas and Tina Land).  Longtime and special friends to the ministry include, Johnny McGowan, Sr. (Engineer and Contractor), Mr. Juan Luna (Contractor), Reverend Samuel Mingo (Ebenezer House of Prayer), Miracle Deliverance Holiness Church (Overseer Ezzie M. Williams and Pastor Belinda Barber), Somebody Cares America (Doug Stringer), First Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (Pastor Quinton and Delores Smith), First Liberty (former Liberty Institute), and Bishop R. M. Taylor (New Day Deliverance Holiness Church).

by Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, PhD, Professor of History, Texas Southern University, Minister of Music, Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church

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