Chris Hoke

Gang Pastor | Jail Chaplain | Writer

The official homepage for Chris Hoke--Tierra Nueva jail chaplain, gang pastor, and writer in Washington's Skagit Valley.




My first book, WANTED: A Spiritual Pursuit Through the Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders, is now completed. Due out February 3rd, 2015 with HarperOne.

From the proposal: 

"Wanted chronicles a young man’s spiritual quest from the bright Southern California Suburbs of his youth to the darker side of society in the rainy Northwest, where he finds—as a volunteer chaplain—the jail to be a portal to a world of mystery on the margins. He is not looking for a way to change the world so much as a place to belong, a place to reach out with others and touch (and be changed by) another world within this one. He is driven not by guilt for white privilege but by loneliness, a yearning for communion that hasn’t died even after his frustration in churches and alienation in secular university life. He wants to step into the pages of the gospel accounts where Jesus performs miracles with a band of outcasts outside religious settings. The jail is his portal to this world.

"The opening set-up chapter follows the young, failed hipster of a narrator from his childhood nightlife in the suburbs, through his explorations in music recording and Russian literature in college, to the “night shift” vocation as a jail chaplain among a criminal world that comes out only at night. To his surprise, a growing network of tattooed Mexican gang members in the lush agricultural valley dub him their “pastor.” When he comes to terms with this uncomfortable title—embracing the role of a “shepherd” of “black sheep”—the adventures begin.

"The self-contained chapters that follow take the reader anywhere but a pew for a taste of the sublime: singing with an attempted-suicide in the jail’s isolation cell, discovering friendship with a house thief who has a knack for recruitment and who literally rots to death in prison, fly-fishing salmon rivers with tattooed gangsters, dodging immigration and airport security with migrant farm workers while observing the valley’s migratory swans, painting in abandoned LA buildings, mysticism in solitary confinement, prayer with schizophrenics, hospitality in the Turkish underground, and finally the narrator facing his own need and belovedness on the back of a motorcycle racing through Guatemalan slums."

I am represented by Wendy Sherman Literary Associates.