Joel Engle, The Father I Never Had,  Brenham, Tex.: Lucid Books, 2010. $15.

Reading the first chapter of The Father I Never Had before it was published, I initially felt uneasy with the amount of detail that the author Joel Engle gave about himself and his marriage. After reading the rest of the book, however, I realize why Joel is so effective in his ministry. His ministry is about telling others about his God, who works powerfully in his life even through the rough times.

In this book, styled as a memoir, he vividly describes his heartfelt struggles of losing his mother and growing up fatherless, so as to place his readers at those key defining moments, which help him to understand, among many things: that God loves him, that God really does satisfy, and that we can overcome our fears and emptiness by finding ourselves in Christ. Sometimes those lessons come at a high price of emotional turmoil and turbulence, but at every turn, Joel sees Christ as the very equation of life. These are stories that touch and move the soul.

For these past several months, I’ve been a member at the Exchange where Joel is the lead pastor. From the onset, one thing that struck my wife and me was his genuine character, which simply exuded authenticity. He is the same person behind the pulpit as he is out of the pulpit (figuratively speaking, since there is only a table and chair). He is as real as one can get these days. I am delighted to call him my pastor, and believe we need more ministers like him–honest, authentic, driven, and reflective–who continually share the message of hope in Christ, precisely as this book is poised to do.