Book Review: Jantsen’s Gift

Last month, I had the opportunity to read Jantsen’s Gift, by Pam Cope with Aimee Molloy, which is in essence a biography that covers Cope’s journey through grief after the loss of her son Jantsen and how this led her to begin Touch a Life (see link under Cope’s name). It’s a very touching story with the occasional difficult paragraph, meaning in a few spots, we could have hit enter (paragraph breaked) a few more times, and with Molly’s help, you could well need the tissues yourself.

Of course, if you really love children, many, many paragraphs are difficult because much of their stories are heart-breaking, which is a credit to the writers, or perhaps Molloy, who like any good ghost, is nice and invisible in the text, which, if you understand how ghost writing works, creates a bit of dissonance when she shows up in the story line, as usually ghosts write the actual text based on often-verbally communicated material the author who hired them  provides. But the ghost keeps the narrative in her client’s voice even when she ends up a “character” in the story herself, and that’s to Molloy’s credit.

Without prejudice, there is some content some readers may find objectionable,  which includes some cussing (which is mild by secular standards), references to the consumption of alcohol, and the unavoidable, but potentially disturbing details of the horrors of childhood slavery and sex trafficking brothels.  If you have a weak stomach for such things, that’s something for you to consider. Otherwise, I think those are stories that do need told and the authors do so well.

Besides the topics already mentioned, if you’re interested in overseas adoption or concerned about the self-centered materialistic lifestyle that’s currently fashionable in the United States, or overseas missions, especially helping children, you’ll find this informative, edifying, and encouraging. Likewise if you’re struggling with grief.

The authors do a good job of moving the reader and convincing them of the need to act. My critique is that they may not do such a good job of closing the sale. Like many such books I’ve read, the reader is left wanting to do something, but not sure what to do, besides give money, and they shied away from coming right out and asking the reader to donate to Cope’s  non-profit, perhaps at the request of the publisher, I wouldn’t be privy.

My recomendations, unfortunately, can’t include giving to touch a life, as I am concerned about the references in the book to taking care of the children for the rest of their lives. If I understood the intent correctly, I believe this policy is harmful to the children and one of the many, many problems plaguing Africa.  Giving a handout to an adult is keeping that person a child and depriving them of their dignity. The proper path, which I believe the bible depicts,  is to provide him the resources he needs to fish (including fishing lessons) and therefore give him the dignity and pride of an honest day’s living.

Now, should we say, “oops, you’re eighteen now, nothing more I can do for you?” Of course not, but the goal should be to bring the child to a place where they’re able to take care of themselves. That’s what good old fashioned parenting is all about, after all.

Groups I give to and recommend, by the way, include Compassion International, an overseas child sponsorship program, and Kiva, which grants small business loans to impoverished families in third world countries.


  1. Andrea-
    Thank you for your honest review of Jantsen’s Gift.
    On behalf of the Touch A Life Foundation, I would like to explain a little more about our programs and what we do.
    Our goals are to rescue, educate, provide medical treatment and self-sufficency training to all the children in our programs. A primary goal is to create the future leaders of their respective communities, assist with University Scholarships, and to provide a “hand up”, not a “hand out”, to these children who have been trafficked and have seen unimaginable horrors in their short lives. We see our work of helping one child at a time as a very personal endeavor, and are therefore committed to them for their lifetimes. By providing the education and life skills training to these children, we see our role as a crucial one in helping end trafficking and empowering Ghanaians to lead their country to a place free of child trafficking.
    For more information about Touch A Life Foundation, please see our website at Thank you for the opportunity to post!
    Susan Poulos, Director of Marketing and Fundraising, Touch A Life Foundation

  2. Author

    You’re welcome. I prefer to write balanced reviews that give “both sides” and often go into related issues, so I can be taken as more negative than is intended. I am certainly not “UN” recommending Touch A Life. My philosophy of this sort of ministry being as stated, and not being familiar with Touch A Life, I can only base my opinions on the information in the book. I was asked to review a book, not a ministry, so that was a tangent to begin with, albeit a natural one. The book itself is lovely if a reader doesn’t take offense at the things I mentioned and doesn’t mind the absence of a “things you can do to help” list.

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