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.

BOOK :  Wanted         

From the Book Flap: 

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 where 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 sublime tales—sometimes comic, other times heartbreaking—of sacred moments in unlikely situations: singing with someone who attempted suicide in the jail’s isolation cell, dodging immigration and airport security with migrant farmworkers, and fly-fishing with tattooed gangsters. Set against the misty Washington landscape, Hoke’s writing takes us with him as he gains and loses friends within 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,” Hoke offers a new vision of the forgotten souls who have been cast into society’s dumpsters, helping us see that beneath even the hardest criminal is a fragile desire to be wanted.

I am represented by Wendy Sherman Literary Associates.


On Sale Now


Critical Praise

"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 discover your own. Exquisite mutuality.” —Fr Greg Boyle, S.J., Founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart

“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.” —Glynn Washington, Host and Creator of NPR's Snap Judgment

“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.” —Dennis Covington, author of Salvation on Sand Mountain, National Book Award finalist

"Taut, tart, furious, merciful, tender, blunt, searingly piercingly unforgettably honest, gloriously devoid of cant and pose and pompous sociological opinion, 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." --Brian Doyle, author of Mink River

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

“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.” —Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation and author of Falling Upward

"[WANTED] is a work of non-fiction, but I read it like it was one of the latest blockbuster novels, this time with gorgeous writing. I couldn't put it down, and didn't want the journey to end."  —Sojourners

“A powerful and moving account of what it means to actually engage a hurting world.” —Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

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.” —Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Strangers at My Door

“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.” —Luis J. Rodriguez, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and author of Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing

“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.” —Fred Bahnson, author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith

“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.” —Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and City of God

“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.” —Scott Cairns, author of Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems