Allen & Patricia Cooke: Faith, Hope & Love
Patricia Cooke: Faith, Hope & Love
Story by Cindy Reid
Allen and Patricia Cooke are the co-founders of Paraclete, Inc, a nonprofit ministry begun out of a passion for helping hurting people and struggling couples.
Paraclete provides counseling and mentoring services and shares the gospel with everyone who chooses them for counseling no matter if they have been a Christian for years, are a pastor, a missionary, or never claimed a relationship with Christ. Their services are completely free of charge and are offered as a ministry to their community of faith.
Allen and Patricia have called Effingham County home for decades, in fact they met when Patricia was a high school junior. Allen smiles and says, “I knew that I would marry her the first time I saw her. She took a little convincing, but I won her over and we were married in 1981.”
They recently celebrated 40 years of marriage and they have been involved in ministry throughout their married life. Worship music is what brought them together, but they also spent many years in youth ministry before specializing in marriage counseling. Patricia says, “No matter what ministry we were involved in, we always did it together.”
Allen is currently the worship leader at Centerpoint Community Church, where Patricia is an active member of the Women’s Ministry Team as well as the worship/praise team.
Allen holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Services Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Counseling. He says, “I felt I needed to study something that fed my soul instead of feeding my career. Being a religion major taught me so much about the Bible and ‘Who God is’ that I feel that it makes me a much better worship leader.”
Patricia holds a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Counseling. They are both ordained, licensed ministers through American Fellowship Church. They are qualified to offer pre-marriage counseling which meets the fulfillment qualifications for Georgia State Marriage Licenses, and they are able to perform marriage ceremonies. They are also certified Christian Counselors through AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors) and are Board Certified Christian Counselors through AACC as well.
Patricia says, “We have always had a heart for ministry as it relates to people and have served in ministry since we were teens. As I think back over our life together, I can identify three themes or common threads that have remained constant…. faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13).” The Cookes share similar passions in ministry, helping to draw others into a more intimate relationship with God through musical worship and offering help, hope, and encouragement to those who find themselves in need of help.
While pursuing their higher educational degrees, the Cookes began to hear stories about marriages failing and individuals suffering because they could not afford counseling. As they say, “we sensed that God was tilling and tendering our hearts to the call to offer counseling to individuals without charging a fee. This was a tremendously exciting call, but one that would tender lots of research and planning, but honestly, much prayer.”
Finally, one morning, after much prayer, they took action and were able to set up their 501(c)3, along with every other document needed and was immediately approved within one day—a process that often takes weeks to complete.
“God hasn’t just been in it from the beginning,” says Patricia. “He has been leading since the beginning.” In 2018 Paraclete, Inc. was born and established as a fully recognized non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization.
The name Paraclete comes from a Greek word which means, “One who walks beside.” Allen says, “We believe in the healing power of Christ. We believe that marriages are being attacked by an enemy that we cannot see, and we are called to be warriors to fight on the front lines. We believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word. We believe in the power of prayer, both inside and outside of the counseling room. We never forget about the ‘Third Person’ in the room, the Holy Spirit. We rely on the insight that He provides to us. He knows and understands, not just our hearts, but the hearts of every person who walks through our doors or meets with us virtually.”
Last year, Allen left his full-time job to dedicate his time to building Paraclete and have more time to counsel.
The Cookes would like people to know that they “offer hope that, even with struggles, we can live a life that honors God.” And although they never ask their clients for money, they do rely on donations from those who support their ministry. They want the community to know they are here, ready to share their skills and faith. “We offer hope, help, and healing. Healing can take place in individuals’ lives, and lives and marriages can be saved.”
Their advice to people seeking counseling is that “God constantly allows circumstances and situations that overwhelm us into our lives. It is in those times, that we are told that we do not suffer or struggle alone. There is One who provides a way out. Sometimes that is by seeking help from a friend, pastor, or counselor who can lock arms with you.”
Above all they stress “You are not alone.”
Allen and Patricia have four grown children, two married with spouses, and one grandchild. They also have two dogs, one cat, and one chicken!
Last year was a challenging one for their family, as their first grandchild, Jewel, was born with special needs and their daughter, Monique, was diagnosed with a rare cancer.
Patricia says, “They are both survivors. Jewel is almost ten months old and has become the joy and love of our life. Monique is still going through treatments but is well on her way to recovery.”
Most of their evenings are taken up with counseling but they always try to dedicate a couple of hours each night to sit and relax. They enjoy spending time with their family and enjoy trips to Tybee Island. They truly live with faith, hope and love!