Thirsting for Living Water: Finding Adventure and Purpose in God's Redemption Story, By Michael J. Mantel
Thirsting for Living Water
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: October 12, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0292
  • ISBN: 9781514002926

*affiliate partner

When a perfect storm of personal, professional, and natural disaster threw Mike Mantel into a dark night of the soul, he embarked on a journey through his own life and around the world to rediscover God's presence through the diverse body of Christ.

In Thirsting for Living Water, Mantel invites readers to join him on this adventure and open their eyes to their own stories of God's faithfulness. It's an invitation to see where God is already at work: at home, among neighbors, and to the ends of the earth. Here is a story of the holistic gospel, driven by compassion, justice, and mercy, with Jesus at the center. Here is an inspiring vision of a unified, global church—in which each of us has a vital role to play.

"Thirsting for Living Water moves us through faith and work with realism. The journey of the dark night of the soul is intensely personal, and Mike Mantel has shown how to embrace it in the midst of leading a superb organization."

Samuel E. Chiang, cofounder of the Global Centre for Giftedness and catalyst for orality with the Lausanne Movement

"I have known Mike for many years and have personally observed his lifelong commitment to serve those the world chooses to push aside and/or forget. Mike consistently lives beyond himself, acting to serve the marginalized and oppressed. I invite you to learn more about Mike, who follows the Master Strategist and his love, vision, and redemption through the church."

Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado, president and CEO of Compassion International

"A warm invitation to look at our lives through the grace and direction of God. Mike uses his story, including the hardest seasons of his life, as a model to show us how to pay attention to what God could be up to. With reflection questions to frame each chapter, this book could be used as a great guide for discussions for everyone from youth groups through adult education and leadership teams."

Mary S. Hulst, university pastor at Calvin University

"Adventure is the operative word for Mike Mantel's new book. Honest, raw, and inspiring. The gripping stories herein capture the profound adventure that all of us are in for when we finally release control of our lives and ask Jesus Christ a truly terrifying question: 'What are you doing . . . and how can I be a part of it?' Mantel's candid stories of doubt, difficulty, and transformation will invite and inspire you to ask that terrifying and adventure-filled question for yourself. Do not be afraid. Read it."

Matthew Kaemingk, Mouw Chair of Faith and Public Life at Fuller Seminary

"I have known Mike for several years, both as CEO of Living Water and as a fellow elder at my church. He is a true follower of Christ. This book not only tells his stories but many other stories from around the world. You will be blessed to read this book and reflect on your stories where Christ has been a faithful father and leader."

Terry Looper, CEO of Texon and author of Sacred Place

"I felt as though this book was written for me. I devoured it in one sitting. You will be encouraged and strengthened as I have been by seeing how the deep tapestry of God's plan is woven by the great Master Strategist into the amazing and glorious masterpiece of his grace in our lives. Thank you, Mike, for writing this book for me, for people like me, and for many others whose lives and experiences will resonate with your journey."

Goodwill Shana, president of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, founder and senior pastor of World of Life International Ministries

"It is with pure joy that I endorse this life-changing book written by my friend Mike Mantel, which will stir up every emotional sensor known to humankind from beginning to end. It takes you on a journey of God's amazing grace through the eyes of living witnesses we can see and speak to in our lifetime! I personally believe this book will lead millions of people from around the world into the life-changing transformation that comes through hearing and accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ, and cause millions more to join our fight in eliminating poverty worldwide!"

Walter August Jr., president of the African American Pastors' Fellowship of Houston, founder of Bethel Family Baptist Church, Houston

"Have you had a moment in your life when you asked, 'How can a good and all-loving God let something like this happen?' Did it shake your faith? Did it make you wonder if God really exists? If so, this book will take you on one person's journey from faith to unbelief and then to a wider and even deeper faith. Mike not only records this faith journey but then provides steps you can take to ascend or reascend the ladder of faith to God's eternal love and redemption. Let Mike show you how his faith let him bring clean water and the living God to those in need of both around the world."

Jim Moroney, publisher emeritus, Dallas Morning News

"Thirsting for Living Water is a must-read. It reminds us of the bigger puzzle that each of us is part of. The deeper we follow God's lead, the more the unexpected happens for the greater good of humanity. Ba Mike brings out the divine plans in an ordinary way for every reader to marvel at God's doing. Pass it on; it's a great read and reminder for our time."

Princess Kasune Zulu, member of Parliament, Zambia

"I will never forget my first trip to Africa with Mike. Every part of me changed because of that trip. My heart, mind, body, and soul were opened up to a place and people who now feel like home to me. I witnessed Mike's authentic passion for serving and bringing hope to people all around the world. He has a winsome way of bridging gaps and creating space for healing and hope to rise. Be warned—the words you are about to read will inspire transformation in your life and call you to new levels of courage to change our world. Thank you, Mike, for your message, but more importantly, for living this message."

Jeanne Stevens, World Vision ambassador and founding pastor of Soul City Church, Chicago

"This book is staggeringly honest—with a start of Mike's own descent into the 'dark night of the soul.' But it is also refreshingly hopeful—with story after story of God's work in this world and Mike's own journey toward the call on his life. Read of this adventure for yourself and be forewarned that God will soon invite you into one of your own."

Greg Holder, lead pastor of The Crossing and author of Never Settle

"In every human being, there is no physiologic mechanism as important as thirst. I believe that one of the basic lessons God is presently teaching us is that we have lost touch with our common humanity. We have become disconnected! It is a thirst that is shaking and shaping the world and the church. Mike Mantel, with boldness and Christian courage, invites us in Thirsting for Living Water to rediscover through real-life stories our power and combined ability to bring God's healing and redemptive message to a thirsty world. It is a must-read!"

Horace E. Smith, pastor of Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago and attending physician at Lurie Children's Hospital

"This book is a deeply honest story of the pilgrimage—personal and organizational—of one person's call to serve the poor. As a reflective practitioner, Mantel's account rests on his pilgrimage as a Christian called to holistic mission, his continuing efforts to understand the practice and theological basis for both the process and outcomes of Christian social transformation, and his deeply held belief that Christian NGOs can and should 'empty themselves' by choosing to do their work with and through local churches—both those of the poor and the nonpoor."

Bryant L. Myers, senior professor of transformational development at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Walking with the Poor

"This book is an inspiring story about what's right with the church today, and Mike Mantel is the perfect person to tell it. Mike's journey will excite you, delight you, and most importantly invite you to join with other fun, smart, dynamic, compassionate people who do God's work through the church here, there, and to the ends of the earth."

James Ludema, dean of the School of Business at Calvin University and author of The Appreciative Inquiry Summit

"I have not read a book since Love Does that will inspire every reader to get up out of their chair and go live out the adventure of truly following Jesus. I laughed, cried, celebrated, repented, and grieved a broken world as I followed this beautiful journey. Don't just read this; buy a copy for your family and friends."

Chris Seay, lead pastor of Ecclesia Houston and author of A Place at the Table

"We've all had those dark seasons of the soul that author Michael Mantel so vividly describes in his book, Thirsting for Living Water. But he provides a refreshing antidote with stories of how God invites us to join his work of redemption—in our homes, our communities, and around the world. I loved his description of how the 'Master Strategist' is always at work with a vision much too grand for us to see. This book is a must-read for anyone who has lost sight of the bigger picture of how we can reach those who thirst for God's living water and do our part to help transform the world."

Lynn Austin, author of Chasing Shadows

"With a missionary essence and biblical grounding, Dr. Mike Mantel shares compelling stories of transforming experiences that bring hope and redemption. Thirsting for Living Water invites in-depth reflection on your own journey and calling as an agent of change in the Kingdom."

Tony Miranda, pastor and president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas

"This is a significant book for uncertain times in which our comfort zones have been shaken and we wonder, What is next? It's an honest book about personal suffering, doubt, and faith. The reader will connect and identify with Mike's experience and will grow in faith, finding encouragement and hope in following our Lord Jesus Christ."

Ruben "Tito" Paredes, director and professor of anthropology and missions at the Orlando E. Costas Graduate School of Mission in Lima, Peru, and former general secretary of the Latin American Theological Fraternity

"God calls us to be faithful and leave the outcomes—easy or hard, large or small, in the now or later—to him. Thirsting for Living Water provides a wealth of testimonies of people being faithful and letting God be the amazing provider, reconciler, and faithful God that he is. Come, read, and be encouraged as Mike gives evidence that, 'Aslan is truly on the move!'"

Steve Corbett, associate professor of community development at Covenant College and author of When Helping Hurts

Read an Excerpt


Prologue: A Glimpse of the Master Strategist

Part One: You Will Be My Witnesses
Reflection 1: My Father Left an Advance Directive
Reflection 2: Love Is a Spiritual Practice
Reflection 3: Your Faith Will Be Tested
Reflection 4: Wait for the Gift Promised by the Father

Part Two: In Jerusalem, and in All Judea and Samaria
Reflection 5: Know the Family from Which You Were Formed
Reflection 6: Christ's Community Spans Faith Traditions
Reflection 7: The World Exists in the City
Reflection 8: Together We Can Transform the World

Part Three: To the Ends of the Earth
Reflection 9: God's Vision Is too Big to See
Reflection 10: God Is Already at Work in the Church There
Reflection 11: God Is Moving in the Church Here
Reflection 12: So That We May Be One

Epilogue: Behold, the Master Strategist: An Invitation to Share Your Stories
Figure Credits


You May Also Like

Michael J. Mantel

Michael J. Mantel is president and CEO of Living Water International, a faith-based global humanitarian organization. He previously spent seventeen years working for World Vision and nine years in business. He holds a PhD in organization development from Benedictine University. He lives in Houston with his wife, Natalie, and they have four daughters.