Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders (Hardcover)

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Interweaving his own story with moving vignettes and gritty experiences in hidden places, a jail chaplain and minister to Mexican gang and migrant worker communities chronicles his spiritual journey to the margins of society and reveals a subversive God who’s on the loose beyond the walls of the church, pursuing those who are unwanted by the world.

Wanted follows a restless young man from the sunny suburbs of his youth to the darker side of society in the rainy Northwest, where he finds the direct spiritual experience he’s been seeking while volunteering as a “night shift” chaplain at a men’s correctional facility. The jail becomes his portal to a mysterious world on the margins of society, where a growing network of Mexican gang members soon dub him their “pastor.” As he comes to terms with this uncomfortable title—and embraces the role of a shepherd of black sheep—his adventures truly begin.

Hoke shares comic, heartbreaking and sublime tales of sacred moments in unlikely situations: singing with an attempted-suicide in the jail’s isolation cell, dodging immigration and airport security with migrant farm workers, and fly-fishing with tattooed gangsters. Set against the misty Washington landscape, this unconventional congregation at times mirrors the Skagit Valley’s fleeting migratory swans and unseen salmon. But Hoke takes us with him into riskier terrain as he gains and loses friends to the prison system, and even faces his own despair—as well as belovedness—on the back of a motorcycle racing through Guatemalan slums.

In these stories of “mystical portraiture,” like the old WANTED posters of outlaws, Hoke bears witness to an elusive Presence that is still alive and defiant of official custody. Such portraits offer a new vision of the forgotten souls who have been cast into society’s dumpsters, helping us see beneath even the hardest criminal a fragile desire to be wanted.

Praise For…

“A liberating, transformative chronicle of how spirituality can foster inspiration and hope while emboldening the downtrodden through their darkest days.”

“When Chris first told a story on my show, Snap Judgment, it was so beautiful I wept. But I kept asking for more. This book proves what we believe at Snap—stories can lure you into places you’ve never imagined, and maybe even change your life.”

“I’m not Christian but Chris has proven that all people—even the most troubled—are worth our intrusions, even as passersby, as migrants, as souls among souls. Thank you for this moving story. More people should have such courage, such character.”

“A powerful and moving account of what it means to actually engage a hurting world.”

“As a former jail chaplain myself, I have yet to find a book that is so well written, so honest, and so non-naïve-and yet compassionate-about the kind of world we live in! You will live in your own world with greater courage if you read this book.”

“God has a remarkable ability to show up anywhere. Blessed are those, like Chris Hoke, who have eyes to see, and who tell the stories so that we may come to believe. WANTED is beautiful writing and powerful testimony to God’s living presence in forgotten places.”

“Chris Hoke is what I would call a Christ-follower. He follows the path that Jesus walked, eyes open, hands ready to help, heart ready to break. The result is life-changing-for him, for those he serves, and for us if we have ears to hear.”

Wanted sings the gospel song that’s echoed through the centuries, from Paul and Silas’ jail cell to Fannie Lou Hamer’s. I haven’t read a book since Tattoos on the Heart that made me cry and shout “Amen!” as much as this one.”

“Hoke meets the lonely young men of his valley who are in so many ways unwanted—and he advocates for them, loves them, calls them brother. Beautiful, unsettling, sometimes laugh out loud funny....For all their darkness, these stories have given me hope like nothing else I’ve read in recent memory.”

“ Hoke eloquently articulates the erasure of margins and the birth of a new inclusion-where the demonizing ceases and the disposable are no longer tossed aside. It is a book which refines one’s own heart to meet the brokenness of the other and discovery your own. ”

“The psalmist says that God hides himself in the dark. That’s exactly where Chris goes looking for him. This search among the most maligned of us is bound to become a spiritual classic.”

“Taut, tart, furious, merciful, tender, blunt, searingly piercingly unforgettably honest...and sometimes so funny I sprained an eyeball laughing. I never read a book so tender with its ears and so honest with its tongue. You’ll never ever forget it. Really and truly.”

“One of the most inspired answers I’ve found to the WWJD? query is beautifully and forcefully displayed in Chris Hoke’s ‘Wanted’....Wondrous.”

Wanted is inspiring and eye opening, at turns heartwrenching and funny. It is stunningly written, thought provoking, and will touch readers in the darkest depths of their souls.”

“This book is imbued with dignity, prayer, and an understanding that relationships require forgiveness, on both sides. Wanted is a beautiful reflection on what the life of faith looks like in action.”

“Every so often our spirits are lifted even higher by compassionate, courageous, and creative souls who give all they’ve got to prisoners in work modeled after the servant ministry of Jesus. Wanted describes such a ministry, and we highly recommend it to you.”

“Wandering, surprising....as Hoke tells story after story, he surprises the reader with his emotional honesty and his unswerving commitment to peeling back layers of the narrative.”

“Dark and yet hope-filled....Raw and real, this is a book you don’t want to miss if you’re serious about being a Christian.”

Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders, made skeptical me cry, sit upright, and see my reality anew... it grabs readers by the neck and forces them to see their own soul in the real world, the actual world that exists.”

Wanted... is a beacon of faith and hope, but it’s also a compelling commentary on the U.S penal system and the callous disregard for the bodies and souls crushed by it”

“... it positively gleams with God’s presence as it goes to one of the darkest corners of modern American society: jail.”

Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders (HarperOne, 2015) is intense from the very first page. Chris Hoke has taken the reluctant prophet theme so prominent in Scripture (Jonah, Moses, Jeremiah, etc.), crossed it with true crime, and written the results down.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062321367
ISBN-10: 0062321366
Publisher: HarperOne
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
Pages: 384
Language: English