Posted in book reviews

James Copple on saving the children

Voices_from_the_night_3D-v4James Copple’s Voices from the Night (Amazon Kindle, 2013) takes you from  drug-infested crack houses in the Midwestern United States to the slums of Nairobi. In words that paint memorable pictures, Copple shares stories of children and youth who face impossible odds and somehow come out on top.

Key to Copple’s method is what he calls “coming alongside”:

My career path is about coming alongside the dispossessed, the impoverished, the broken, and the wounded. To be in journey along side of the oppressed is to recognize that you bring skills, gifts, and capacity that can strengthen or contribute to the welfare of those you engage. Further, to come along side suggests that you have as much to learn from the other as the other has to learn from you. It is a bridge bound by love, grace, and empathy (location 122).

For the author, child victims of war, drug abuse, and poverty must not be mere abstractions or projects at whom we throw money to ease our conscience. Rather, they are a living, breathing reality, youth with hopes, dreams, and incredible potential. Copple laments that governmental budgets find millions for wars and leave social agencies to fight each other over the remaining scraps. Surely we can do better than this! But more than money, children and youth need us, our time, our love, our attention. That’s what community is all about.

Voices from the Night includes heart-wrenching stories, so be prepared to be haunted by what Jesus called “the least of these.” Whether it’s little Omar in Somalia who divulges to soldiers where his mother is hiding, resulting in her rape, all so that his empty, growling stomach can have a couple of biscuits, to a little girl in a filthy crack house who pleads with Jim, “Mister, can you get me out of here?,” there’s no taking your eyes off the sad specter of children suffering.

A positive aspect of the book is that the author doesn’t just present the problem. He offers practical solutions, but be warned: They come at a personal price. Community change can only transpire when we are in-the-flesh involved with those who need rescuing. The final chapter offers ways to roll up your sleeves and make a difference.

The wide-ranging nature of Voices from the Night is also its weakness. Really there are two books here, one dealing with anti-drug crusading in the United States and a second telling more recent stories from the hardscrabble areas of East Africa. While the children and their stories are compelling, the long interludes of moralizing are less so.

Despite this weakness, Voices from the Night is a clarion call to advocate for those who are most often shunted aside as insignificant. Copple never promises that change will be easy, but he guarantees that looking back one day, you’ll be glad you spent yourself in a cause bigger than yourself.


Photo credit: James Copple the Seeker


Greg is interested in many topics, including theology, philosophy, and science.

2 thoughts on “James Copple on saving the children

  1. I thought that the very strength of the book was the one thing you thought was it’s weakness, which is the very breadth and depth of Copples broad exploration and experiences; personal, social, and political. Oftentimes, we read stories that are too narrow, giving us a compartmentalized and empty view, that diminishes just how massive the problem is. His haunting story that moves him from one place to another, brilliantly proves how one crack house experience is connected to the tragedies and horror of a little boy across the world. I also believe that Copple not only demonstrated the power of the “voices in the night” as it relates to his experience with particular children in distress, but he gives the reader insight about his own “voice from the night”…the one that he holds dear, the voice from his childhood, melded in with the voice of God.

    I was struck hard by the lessons of personal struggle and the hope of Jesus Christ that he so beautifully conveys.

  2. I tried to leave this comment, on the review site of Dr Crofford, however I didn’t think it worked, so I had to rewrite it…which I’m actually happy about. The first version was horribly typed on my “Smartphone,” that thinks it has the right to change what I want to say automatically. So this is a new version of the same idea. I re-uploaded my response to his review. Though I am opinionated, I hope and pray that the spirit in which I wrote this, one of respect for all views, is easily translated onto a Facebook post!

    I thought the book’s strength was the very thing that Dr. Croffard felt was its weakness, and that is the breadth and depth of the author’s experience, the broadness and grandness of the author’s journey. Oftentimes, stories of this nature are narrowly told, compartmentalized, and sanitized, keeping the reader in the dark about just how far reaching the problem really is. The stories connect in such a way that it is conceivable that the life and voice of the little girl in the crack house, is somehow directly related to the little boy in war-torn Africa, forced into situations so horrific, that we cannot even imagine their pain, let alone their hope. The politics, the injustice, the spiritual war within us, as a member of the human race, fallen…all are amazingly connected in a web of destructive forces, yet, so graciously intertwined with the hope of Christ.

    I enjoyed hearing the diverse experiences through the author’s storytelling. Copple’s ability to take the reader on a ride so human, that you are forced to deal with your own complacency and apathy, as well as the realization of the power that lies within us as Believers, keepers of the truth, that can literally save countless lives.

    Another piece to this is that Copple is able to project the “voices from the night,” as if the reader is standing right there next to him, “alongside” him…listening to their fight for survival. However, in a twist of brilliance, he also creates the opportunity for the reader to hear his “voice from the night.” He shares his own introspective lessons, as well as his own sense of emptiness and sadness, he too experienced as a child. Copple, a self-identified “Seeker” wrote a book that is at the very heart of who he is in Christ. I just hope that he realizes the fact that his journey of “seeking” Christ or of Truth, has long been found in him. Through His relationship with Jesus, God has revealed himself already, not only through His Word, but also through Mr. Copple’s heart and passion for God’s children.

    The book to me, not only showed the bigger picture of the plight of children in a drug infested, selfish, self-absorbed world; it showed me the child within this man, and the voice from within, that cannot be ignored. His voice…God’s voice, compels each of us to open our ears, eyes, and hearts to bring refuge to those who are crying for safety, to give food and water to those who are hungry, and to heal those who are brokenhearted, in Jesus’ name. I loved this book, there isn’t one line that didn’t resonate with me. I had found a book that spoke to me and explained why I have the passion that bubbles up inside of me. My own voice from the night, the one that we all hold somewhere deep inside. It confirmed for me, in so many ways, that I am on the right track on my life’s journey.

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