The Coté family has relocated to Pennsylvania, and Mark is now Director of Safe Place Ministry, and Kristin the Administrative Director. Mark also serves on the pastoral staff at Hershey Church of the Nazarene. On October 22, 2023, Mark and Kristin shared Victoria’s story in the service leading up to today and the ministry of Victoria’s Fund now joined to their church in Hershey. The message (around 00:31:45) can be watched through this link.
On this second Sunday of Lent, the fourth Sunday of Black History Month, I (Mark) have been thinking about a man from North Africa, Simon of Cyrene. Simply “a passer-by coming from the country,” he found himself “pressed into service” by Roman soldiers, “to bear [Jesus’] cross.” (Mk 15:21) It seems that he did not sign up for it, volunteer for it, or ask for it. Rather it was forced upon him. While Jesus had previously called upon His followers to take up their crosses, for Simon, his cross was Jesus’ cross.
Thirteen years ago this morning, while sitting in a rocking chair by our front door in Millersville, PA, a knock at the door signaled that it was time for Kristin and me to leave for the hospital for Victoria Grace’s birth. Right before the knock, I came upon the words of Jesus that he spoke right before He would face His trial and crucifixion: “. . . the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (Jn 14:30–31).
We got up, and we followed Him. We did not sign-up, volunteer, or ask to bear that cross. But for thirteen years now, He has gone before us and with us, in the midst of our grief revealing His resurrection life and hope—His victory by His grace.
With all of Victoria’s friends and family near and far, with whatever crosses that we carry this day—burdens we did not sign up, volunteer, or ask for—may we view our crosses as Jesus’ cross. Like Simon, pressed upon us not by choice, let us “carry behind Jesus” (Lk 23:26) into His death and resurrection life. And so, “Get up, let us go from here.”
On October 25, 2020, I (Mark) preached a sermon focused on my spiritual journey, with the week of Victoria’s life serving as the backdrop, like a “Damascus Road” encounter that has changed me and my family ever since. We hope this is an encouragement to you!
Grace to you,
Mark & Kristin
On this leap day, during the 12th anniversary week of Victoria’s life on this earth, we would like to share our hope of belonging together in our Father’s family. Below is a reflection that currently opens chapter two of a book I (Mark) am currently writing, provisionally titled, God’s Victory by His Grace: A Story of Beauty, Brokenness, Belonging, and Blessing. Read More
“Think systems.” With this statement, Dr. David Cross challenged an auditorium full of child welfare workers in Lima, Peru. This core commitment of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (TCU) echoes an emphasis in Kids Alive International’s expanding model of care to deliver God’s whole love to children and families. Both KPICD and KAI have realized that influencing systems represents a significant contribution to lasting change in a child’s world. Read More
Child Protection represents a sacred trust in the Kingdom of God. At the Crossroads of the Kingdom, every single one of us must answer to the all-or-nothing blessing or curse that Jesus spoke over responses to a child:
“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe . . .” (Matt 18:5–7). Read More
The expansion underway of Kids Alive’s model of care demonstrates God’s whole (perfect) love which “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The mention of family to a vulnerable child can at once provide comfort or trigger fear. Thus, a model of care developed for the whole child must embrace family. Family represents a child’s story. These stories twist and turn with complexity, at some points anchored by connection to a trustworthy family member, and at other points trembling from neglect, abuse, or abandonment. Some children live in the reality but without knowing the details of past chapters to their stories. Kids Alive seeks to piece together a child’s past with the beginning of a new chapter marked by peace. Family strengthening represents a significant development in the global strategy of Kids Alive International, one which has just begun. Read More
Kids Alive’s model of care continues to expand to reflect more of God’s whole (perfect) love which “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Trauma in a child’s life instills fear and harms physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and relational development. A model of care built for bringing whole love to the whole child must reach into these areas of child development. Read More
Bound from a base and for a destiny