Newfound Faith: The Fourth Fisherman

One of the great things about being asked on occasion to review books on faith and spirituality is coming across books that otherwise hadn’t found their way onto my radar screen. The most recent to fall in that category, sent to me for review by Random House, is Joe Kissack’s The Fourth Fisherman: How Three Mexican Fishermen Who Came Back from the Dead Changed My Life and Saved My Marriage. It is an inspiring story…actually two inspiring stories in one book – that of Joe Kissack and that of three Mexican fishermen.

Five Mexican fisherman set out from a small town on the western coast of Mexico in October 2005.. A horrible storm damaged their boat and took away much of their supplies, including their fishing net. It also made it impossible for them to get back to shore. In the nine months they were adrift in the Pacific, two of the men died and all were given up for lost. Amazingly three were rescued. (Their rescue got a lot of worldwide press attention, although I didn’t recall the incident when I started to read the book.)

The story of the fisherman, and how the Bible and their faith helped them stay alive, is told powerfully by Kissack. Even if the only story here were that of the three men who were lost at sea, the book would be a worthwhile read. But there is a second story.

The fourth fisherman in the book title is Kissack himself. Interwoven with the story of the Mexican fisherman is Kissack’s own story. First, the story of his fall: How he went from a man on top of the world – high-paying prestigious job, nice home and everything money could buy – to a state of addiction, anxiety and joblessness. (Those who suffer from depression and anxiety or who have experienced drug or alcohol dependency will recognize much in Kissack’s self-portrait.) Second, the story of his redemption: how God found him at his lowest point and how he started to dig himself out. And how his search to meet the three Mexican fisherman helped change his life.

Regarding both the Mexican fisherman and Kissock, the book is a story of healing and restoration. Their stories are different – as someone points out to Kissock at one point the fishermen looked lost, but weren’t lost at all because they had God, whereas Kissock didn’t look lost because he had everything, but really was lost. But there is much to learn in looking at the stories side-by-side.

This is a book you will pick up and not want to put down until you are finished with it. The writing is good, the story is compelling and the hand of God is evident throughout.

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