Review: Thirsting For Living Water

Thirsting For Living Water, Michael J. Mantel (Foreword by Richard Stearns). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2021.

Summary: How a young executive left a promising position to pursue the adventure in faith of providing both clean drinking water and the living water of Jesus throughout the world.

Michael Mantel thought he had it made. He had married his college sweetheart, found a thriving Christian community, and had risen to a key job in a major company. Then his company awarded a gift to a charitable group digging fresh water wells in Africa, and sent him to observe their work. His life was transformed as he saw the difference access to safe drinking water could make in the life of a village in Senegal.

He agreed with his wife Natalie to walk through a door, taking a leave from his company to work for World Vision in development efforts. After learning the work from funding to community development, he took the position as president and CEO of Living Water International, a ministry that uses an integrated approach of coming alongside people in a country to help with water access, sanitation, and hygiene efforts (WASH) that make a major difference in reducing disease and death from water-borne illnesses and fuel other development efforts. In addition, they are committed to sharing the message of the living water of Christ.

This book narrates a journey from hearing the call to be witnesses, beginning with his Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and reaching the ends of the earth. He describes a downward journey as he loses his father, walks along his wife in fighting cancer, faces tests of faith in growing the business, and goes through Hurricane Harvey and sees God provide for his Houston-based organization amid the pressures of so many needs in his own city.

It’s a story of both understanding his own calling and appreciating the breadth of the church. Through work with a couple Christian academics, he learns about appreciative inquiry, in which one learns how to assess the strengths of a community where development efforts are being undertaken, and how one works with a variety of partners inside and outside a community for its flourishing. Then the work of Living Water International gives him the chance to apply these lessons globally, glimpsing the bigness of God’s vision for the world, learning how God is already at work with churches abroad as well as awakening churches here through engagement in God’s mission. He contend that it is in this work of God’s entire body that the oneness of the church is truly experienced.

The book is filled with inspiring stories, not only of Mike and Natalie, but also of churches both here and around the world. But the aim of the book is to encourage readers to reflect on how God is meeting them in their own story. Each chapter both is a reflection and invites reflection in thought, writing, and discussion with others. It is both an encouraging and dangerous book, particularly if read with a group seeking to discern how they might walk into God’s vision for the world, his great story. Read this one if you dare!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

One thought on “Review: Thirsting For Living Water

  1. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: November 2021 | Bob on Books

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