Jonesboro - They have four children of their own. But, the vision one Jonesboro couple has for the future involves kids beyond their own...kids they say that need a home and someone to believe in them. This place, this dream is called, "King's Ranch."
It consists of 60 acres of land atop Crowley's Ridge. Dr. Eddie Cooper and his wife, Lee, call it God's country. It's here they built their house and sprawling farm atop land that once used to be a gravel pit. The Coopers brought beauty to this land and they believe God is asking them to do the same for children in need.
"There's a tremendous need in this area and I think that's what people don't understand," said Edward Cooper, a Jonesboro Orthopaedic Surgeon. "For years, I would drive home from my office. I'd go to the Country Club. Go golfing, go here, go there and I never really saw the need. But through being involved in a ministry on Huntington and with my parents and my sister with the foster care system, God has really shown us a need."
And just as he fixes broken bones, Dr. Cooper hopes to help heal broken lives through this non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization. The purpose behind King's Ranch: to provide a home for abused, neglected or abandoned children, six to 12 years of age. They can stay until they're 18.
"We just want to help those kids here that if they just had a chance, could make it, said Lee Cooper. "If they just had someone to be at home when they came home from school and helped them with their homework. Love them and then they could make it.
Lee will be the first to tell you that this vision for rescuing children was not the "couple's" idea.
"I was God's idea and he gave us a vision," explained Dr. Cooper. "And at first it was daunting and I thought it must be wrong. But after praying about it, we decided it was his plan for us. And this vision he gave to us, he would find a way to make it happen."
The first thing to happen: an accountant came to Dr. Cooper's office and offered his services to set up the non-profit status for King's Ranch. Then, community support began to grow. But, the process hasn't gone without a few stumbling blocks. The idea was met with opposition when the couple sought a conditional use permit for the land.
"I think there's been a misconception that there were going to be troubled kids, in trouble with the law," said Lee. "And that's not really what our calling is."
"There were people saying that we're going to have barbed wire all around our property," said Dr. Cooper with disbelief.
Nothing could be further from the truth say the Coopers.
"We feel called to minister to a very specific group of kids whose parents can't take care of them," said Dr. Cooper. "Sometimes their father--typically is in jail--or maybe drugs or some other reason that they can't take care of them. Grandparents are trying to raise them and they just can't do it."
Plans are for King's Ranch to be licensed by the State of Arkansas through the Department of Human Services. Eight children will live in each home along with two Christian houseparents.
Right now now negotiations are underway for an existing home on adjoining property to the ranch. But, if that doesn't work out, the Coopers plan to seek a permit to build on the property.
"If we do decide to build, we're going to put the first house on the hill across the way," said Dr. Cooper. "It's called Daffodil Hill."
King's Ranch is funded entirely through private donations. It has a website and Board of Directors.
"We are trusting God, said Lee. "He has led us this far and we know he's going to bring the children."
"We're taking this step-by-step and doing it on God's time," said Dr. Cooper. "His time is perfect. We're in it for the long haul. I see God saving these children from their terrible circumstances long after we're gone and using this place for them."