William and Katie – royal couple with a difference
By Charles Gardner, Special to ASSIST News Service
SAN MARCOS, MEXICO (ANS – December 15, 2017) — Growing up as a young boy in the hills of Yorkshire in England, William Cooke was intrigued by the goings-on at his church, which had been established as a result of a “mini-revival.”
He was particularly stirred by the gospel message about the love of Jesus for everyone. And now – some three-and-a-half decades later – he is still sharing that love with kids in faraway Mexico.
As disciples of Jesus, and thus part of what the Bible describes as a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2.9), William and his American wife Katie now run a home for abandoned children for which they have received state recognition with a $12,000 (300,000 pesos) award for outstanding social service to the community.
The judges were particularly impressed with its emphasis on family, and it has come as a great encouragement after 20 years of missionary work in the country.
The Face of my Father children’s home, currently made up of ten youngsters aged eight to 19 (although some have been much younger), is located in San Marcos near Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, where William also pastors a church.
The name is borrowed from the words of Jesus when describing how the angels in heaven see the “little ones” who are so precious to him. (Matthew 18.20)
Taking in orphaned, abandoned or abused children, it has been home to 19 different young people since it opened nine years ago. This includes a family of six and a number have special education needs.
“We have found that most of the children come from an abusive situation as a result of which they are malnourished as well as suffering mental development problems and tend at first to be violent. We try to make it as close to normal family life as possible considering the circumstances,” he said.
“They come with many fears, and always with an extremely distorted view of family life. But they thrive in a stable home setting where their needs, and many wants, are met and where the love of Jesus is taught and felt.
“All the children who pass through our doors enter into the ‘system’ and their cases are processed by social workers and lawyers until a decision is made as to what is to happen with them. The process takes anywhere from months to years, so we work hard to make every day count, knowing that it may be our last with any given child. Some will return to family members, others will be put up for adoption, and others will stay with us until they are 18 or stay on as a worker in the home.”
William and Katie also have children of their own – David, Emily and Lane – and were originally sent out by the Clover Pass Community Church in Ketchikan, Alaska, where the Yorkshire lad met his wife!
But the missionary “call” dates back to that mini-revival in Stocksbridge, near Sheffield, as a result of which many went out as missionaries to various parts of the world — also including Bulgaria, Malta, Northern Ireland, Cornwall, Cambodia and Alaska!
As a 15-year-old, William joined a group from the church, then known as the Eagles’ Nest (now The Hub) and led by Kevin Gould, on a mission trip to Mexico and at one point stayed at a children’s home.
“The home made a deep impression on me,” he said. “I got very emotional and told our youth leader that I would return one day — I didn’t know how – because I felt strongly that God was calling me to work there. As the years passed, things just started to fall into place and I later returned for an extended stay which is when I finally decided that I should move to the country and work as a missionary.”
An intensive Texas-based course included a time of learning the language in Mexico City. And as both Katie and William liked working with children in vulnerable situations, it all made sense.
The prize money is going towards purchasing a much-needed 15-seater van to replace the smaller vehicle currently on loan from the social services agency.
The mini-revival that started it all off coincided with the launch of a gospel newspaper, called New Life, with which William’s dad Mike had been keenly involved, taking the photographs and helping to prepare it for publication. In fact, this writer fondly recalls putting those early issues together (in 1982) on their dining room table with kind permission of Mike’s wife Christine.
For more information on the children’s home, and possible ways you can support them, visit their website at www.faceofmyfather.squarespace.com
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1.27)
Photo captions: 1) MISSION TO MEXICO: William and Katie Cooke with their children David, Emily and Lane. 2) HAPPY FAMILY: A stable, loving home has changed the lives of these youngsters. 3) HOT PROPERTY: The extended family with the title deed to land bought with the help of sponsors two years ago. 4) WORKING THE LAND: Encouraging the kids to get involved with planting as well as caring for fish. 5) ANS founder, Dan Wooding, pictured with Charles Gardner, in Sheffield, during Dan’s visit earlier this year with his wife, Norma, to the UK.
About the writer: Charles Gardner is a veteran Cape Town-born British journalist working on plans to launch a new UK national newspaper, reporting and interpreting the news from a biblical perspective. With his South African forebears having had close links with the legendary devotional writer Andrew Murray, Charles is similarly determined to make an impact for Christ with his pen. He is also author of Israel the Chosen (Amazon) and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher, and has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 40 years. Part-Jewish, he is married to Linda, who takes the Christian message around many schools in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster. He has four children and nine grandchildren, and can be reached by phone on +44 (0) 1302 832987, or by e-mail at email@example.com
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