Her journey initially took her to Vietnam. She and Randy had decided to give a portion of Jantsen’s memorial fund to some family friends involved in adoption and missions work.

While in Vietnam, they became enamored with a baby abandoned by his mother and living in an orphanage. Their own 11-year-old adopted daughter, Crista, begged them to adopt him. They finally relented, and Van Cope became part of their family in August 2000.

Shortly after that trip, Cope and her husband decided to donate the remainder of Jantsen’s memorial fund to a woman named Mai Lang, whose focus was getting children off the streets in Vietnam and providing them with an education and a safe place to live.

Cope’s big turning point occurred in late 2000. She had been trying to raise more funds to benefit Lang’s efforts in Vietnam (without much success) and came to grips with the fact that she had personally not made any huge financial sacrifice. She felt it was time to give up something she valued: her diamond solitaire wedding ring.

“My decision to give up that ring was the moment that things really started to happen,” Cope says. “At that point, I began to take my work—and myself—seriously.”

In 2001 Cope learned about a 2-year-old girl in Vietnam who lived in the same orphanage Van had come from. The child had developed mild cerebral palsy as a result of physical abuse the mother experienced while pregnant. After seeing pictures of the little girl, Cope couldn’t stop thinking about her. In October she and Randy adopted her and named her Tatum.

Since the inception of Touch a Life in 2000, Cope has gone the extra mile to alleviate suffering, one child at a time. Early on, she established what she calls “The Fixer Fund” to help meet the serious medical needs of children who might otherwise die or spend their lives crippled. For example, she lined up a sponsoring physician in the United States and obtained a medical visa for a Vietnamese girl named Phoo Twee Do, whose legs had been blown off by a homemade bomb and who was battling a serious infection.

Phoo received prosthetic legs—and was adopted by a loving couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Without Cope’s intervention, Phoo might have become another sad statistic.

An Expanded Worldview

Cope didn’t grow up in a churchgoing family. Her faith journey stems from a prediction in 1980 that the world was coming to an end. At that time, Cope was a senior in high school. She remembers going to a revival every night with her friends—hungry and searching for answers.

“I can remember one night when the pastor asked who wanted to become a Christian, and I felt this magnetic pull. I went forward and said, ‘I’m ready to do this.’ ” Unfortunately, Cope did not have an intimate relationship with Jesus, and for years she struggled with her faith.

“Up until the point of losing Jantsen,” she says, “there was this constant struggle of wavering back and forth between not being worthy, not being knowledgeable enough of the Word, and really trying to get my arms around forgiveness. I wasn’t sure that forgiveness was something that was truly for me.

“When Jantsen died, I was forced to reflect on everything I had read in the Bible and my relationship with God up to that point. I was desperate for an authentic relationship.”

Cope says after Jantsen’s death, she would beg God to fill her with His presence. “I would feel His peace wash over me and know it was His presence,” she says. “Even though it was such a painful time of grief, it was so powerful with God.”

Cope admits she was a performance-oriented perfectionist before Jantsen died. “Everything was focused on my immediate family, my needs. My world was pretty small,” she says, noting that Jantsen and Crista had most things money can buy.

Since then, traveling to Third World countries has opened Cope’s eyes. It is hard to justify spending $150 on something as frivolous as matching pajamas and slippers after seeing three generations of the same family living in a one-room apartment in Vietnam, she says.

In recent years, the Copes have made some significant financial adjustments to help support more children in need. For example, they got rid of their credit cards and committed to an all-cash budget. They also downsized by moving into a smaller house.

Cope sometimes struggles to find a balance between work and family life. But she hopes her children will learn through her example that we have a responsibility to take care of people in need.

Being Jesus’ hands and feet starts with a simple prayer, says Cope: “Jesus, break my heart for what breaks Yours.”

A few weeks after Jantsen died, Cope says her brother-in-law told her, “Your life will definitely be sad, but it’s also possible that it will be richer and fuller than ever before.” Neither of them had any idea how prophetic his words would turn out to be.

Cope, whose family now lives in a Dallas suburb, never dreamed she would be involved in global outreach. Last year in Ghana, some 7,000 miles away from home, she felt God’s presence in a special way, she says. Standing under a tree on a 110-degree day eating banana Laffy Taffy, she knew she was right where she needed to be, doing what God called her to do—rescuing children who otherwise had no hope of a normal life.

Carol Chapman Stertzer is a journalist living in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.


Find quick and inexpensive ways to help transform someone else’s life at lifechanger.charismamag.com.

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • There are some ways the Holy Spirit will never lead you.

    4 Ways the Holy Spirit Does Not Lead You—and 1 Big Danger

    Wrong teaching, ignorance, laziness and a failure of the five-fold to equip the saints for the work ...

  • Chuck Pierce

    Prophetic Word: 'The Winds of Heaven Are Now Entering the Earth'

    Chuck Pierce says we need to brace ourselves.

  • What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    Start saving for emergencies today with the $500 Savings Challenge by brightpeak financial. It's chock-full of inspiration, great savings tips and the motivation to make a dent in your savings—for real! Go to 500savingschallenge.com to sign up!

  • Lee's ministry photo

    10 Ways to Pray for a Troubled America

    God is always willing to rescue His people if they pray.

  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Low-Rate Church Loans Available!

    Low-Rate Church Loans Available!

    Whether it's purchasing a property, remodeling or refinancing, Christian Community Credit Union has a loan package that's customized for your budget and situation.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • God doesn't usually shout, so you should listen carefully.

    What Happens When You Actually Listen to God

    It will surprise—and most likely shock—you.

  • Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?

    Scripture Says Pain, Health and Sin Share This Unexpected Connection

    If you're experiencing chronic pain, this may offer you the answer you need.

  • Guarding the gates of your heart will keep the demonic and evil out of your life.

    Keep the Demonic Out of Your Life With This Oft-Overlooked Spiritual Warfare Strategy

    The enemy knows his limitations. Limit him.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit