Held Hostage: A Serial Bank Robber’s Road to Redemption

Who says miracles don’t happen these days?

For instance, a young boy runs into his home and tells his mom that one day he was going to preach. “She nearly fainted and said she would be praying…” and she did for many, many years.

Ken Cooper was a decent sort of man, got excellent grades in school, went to college, but had a penchant for stealing. He loved the adrelenin rush of it, the “natural” high it gave him.

He met a girl that made him “see the light” so to speak and they had a baby. He resolved to be the best husband and best dad anyone could hope for. He was, too… until his wife died and he gave his child away because he couldn’t take care of her. He felt like a failure, and that’s when he decided to rob banks.

As a career, it didn’t have much of a future. In fact, the last bank he robbed, he’d almost decided not to rob it. That had to be the worst, and the best day of his life, because Ken Cooper met Jesus for real while he was in prison. The fact that he was supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of parole and yet four years later, he was standing in front of a church crowd giving his testimony is nothing but a miracle.

The road between the two, however, was long, full of twists and turns and hair-raising-adrelenin-rushing-cliff-hangers. Ken called robbing banks, his “banking business”. He conducted business with a loaded gun and numerous disguises. The amazing thing is that he became very well known throughout Kentucky as he was the state PR man as well as Cumberland College promotions man. He lead a double-life, and nair the twain should meet except on one hot, horrendous day.

Ken Cooper can tell a story. He weaves in and out like a well-honed loom. He does an amazing job of drawing the reader into his thought process. You become immersed in his woes and his highs. You hold your breath with him as is cellblock is chosen for him by Mrs. Joseph. You mourn with him the loss of his family and his seperation from loved ones. You cheer him when he realizes how Jesus cleanses the most vile and pulls those from the deepest mire. You rejoice with him when he rejoices that only God and His goodness could have arranged his shower mates, because Malo told him that “A muscle-bound homo they called Bear bought you.” Only God could have made all points and purposes come together so that he stepped into the shower with a huge hometown boy who hated the sex traders, too.

This is a smooth read. It is not for the fainthearted, but is worthy of some late nights. I recommend it. It is worth the money and is a keeper. You can buy Held Hostage from Chosen Books but it won’t hit the book store shelves until August. Look for it, don’t miss it!

Ken Cooper, who served four years of a 99-year sentence, later worked with four others to found Prisoners of Christ, a faith-based reentry ministry for the transition of inmates plagued with addictions. Now he heads up Ken Cooper Prison Ministries, involved in prison ministry organization development, consulting work, and education on overcoming addictions. Ken has been featured in numerous media outlets including Time, The Christian Science Monitor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Associated Press.Ken and his wife, June, live in Jacksonville, Florida.

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