Monday, September 7, 2015

Cooks and Quivers

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord... Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! — Psalm 127:3-5

When Ryan Cook stood to introduce himself at the seminary's new students banquet on August 20th (see photo, left), most of those present thought he misspoke when he mentioned having four 5-year-old children. But, to everyone's delight, he quickly pointed out that they are quadruplets!

Ryan, a distance student from Westfield, Indiana, is an attorney for Citizens Energy Group, an Indianapolis public utility company, and is beginning his seminary studies during the Fall Semester, which opened with classes on August 24.

Ryan explained at the banquet that he and his wife Stacie had difficulty starting a family and opted for fertility treatments. Such treatments have been known to result in multiple births, and such was the case for the Cooks, who welcomed a son, Levi, and three daughters, Anya, Maya and Zoe, into their family five years ago.

Stacie and Ryan Cook with their quadruplets. (Photo May 2014)

But amazingly, Ryan and Stacie Cook are not the only GPTS student couple with a quiver of multiple-birth children. Another Cook family (unrelated), Stephen and Rachel Cook of Greenville, S.C., have triplets! Stephen has been a student at GPTS for the past several years, and returned this semester to finish his studies after a hiatus during which time he taught at a local private school. In August, he married Rachel and acquired an instant family.

Stephen met Rachel met at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C., where he was a member. She is also now a member. The triplets, two identical girls, Adelyn and Ellie, and a boy, Quincy, are five years old. Rachel has just begun homeschooling the three of them. 

The incidence of twin births in the United States is growing, but the birth rate of triplets and higher is down slightly in recent years. In 2013, the birth rate for triplets or higher order of multiple births was 119.5 per 100,000 live births, down 4 per cent from the 2012 rate and down more than a third from the peak of 193.5 in 1998 (which was 400 per cent higher than in 1980), according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Cook triplets start their homeschooling.

Ryan Cook is a 1997 graduate of Butler University, where he earned a bachelor of science in pharmacy. He graduated from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis with a doctor of jurisprudence degree in 2006. He studied briefly at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary before applying to Greenville Seminary in July of this year. He and Stacie were married in 2001.

Ryan says that he began to be interested in the things of the Lord in the mid-1990s while attending a Baptist Church.

"I went on a short-term missionary trip to East Asia in the summer of 1997," Ryan said in his GPTS application. "I believe I grew in faith and sanctification slowly but steadily until about a year into law school. I was at times terribly backslidden from then until sometime in 2012. My wife and I were at that time attending a broadly evangelical church called Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana. The Lord placed conviction of sin upon me, I believe, and caused me to fear for the welfare of my wife and children if I continued on my then current course."

He said he began reading the Scriptures with more earnest and sought out a theologically conservative Presbyterian church because of his perception that it would be committed to preaching the whole counsel of God. He is currently a member of Christ Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sheridan, Indiana.

“I have since learned of the beauty of the Westminster Standards, come to highly value the confessional Presbyterian stream of tradition (and learned that not all Presbyterian bodies hold that same confessional view)," he said. "I desire theological education because I highly value the preaching and teaching of the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. I perceive that the preaching and teaching in the vast majority of churches in the U.S.A. (and the West, more generally) [is deficient]. In short: If called by God, I want to preach and teach His Word and serve Christ's Church, either in the U.S. or as a missionary.”