Glen Rose resident Jeff Copenhaver, son of two-time world champion bronc rider Deb Copenhaver, is touring the nation and giving away free copies of his book, “God Wants You to Win.”
The book depicts stories of Jeff and his dad as they discover their love for bronc riding and calf roping with scriptures interspersed throughout with ties to each experience.
Jeff was born in Spokane, Washington and grew up in a stressful environment.
“My parents didn’t get along. They would fight like crazy and there was a lot of turmoil in our house,” he said.
But as Jeff grew up watching his dad succeed at being a saddle bronc rider and a two-time world champion, he developed a dream just like his father.
“I was around all of the great cowboys of that era and different icons in rodeo,” he said. “Growing up, I wanted to be a champion like my dad.”
His parents eventually divorced, but Jeff kept at it, coming home from school every day and tying calves.
He attended Blue Mountain Community College, then took off in the rodeo circuit. He started pursuing his dream vigorously.
“It was literally a crazy obsession and I say ‘crazy’ because at one time, I literally roped 10,000 calves in three months," he said. “I had 35 calves. I would rope them all three times a day, every day for over three months.”
His obsession paid off when five years later, he won the world championship in 1975.
But something was missing.
“I was sitting in a hotel in Oklahoma City at the edge of my bed. I just looked at my buckle and thought, ‘Is that all there is?’ because I had made it,” he said.
He met his now wife, Sherry, at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Alberta and they started attending church together.
“I was looking for something that would touch my heart, not something that was just ‘religious,’” he said.
A fellow calf roper talked to Jeff and Sherry about their experience with the Lord. That night, Jeff and Sherry kneeled down and gave their lives to Jesus together.
“It felt like when we knelt down, that we were in a blizzard and when we prayed that prayer, it just felt like somebody came up and put a great big warm Indian blanket around us and that’s never left. That was 41 years ago,” Jeff said.
That experience fueled the couple’s faith and led them to start the first Cowboy Church in 1986.
Not long after, Jeff started writing monthly articles for western publications. After three years of writing, he decided to incorporate the best ones into a book.
Jeff said, “The idea from the very beginning was to give them (the books) away,” and that’s exactly what he did.
He published three separate books, in English, Russian and Spanish.
He has given away his books at FFA conventions, the NFR, prisons, schools and soon, he will attend the National Indian Finals in Las Vegas where he will give away more.
In total, he has given away close to three quarters of a million books.
“They touch people where they are. Real people with real problems finding a real God,” said Jeff’s friend, Leon Clift.
For more information, visit www.jeffcopenhaver.com.