Joe Brooks believes everyone gets a second chance, and redemption is possible for anyone willing to take that chance during their journey in life.
His debut fiction novel, “Chase the Rain,” offers readers the chance to take a journey with a man, F. Jordan Landom, who becomes a local pastor and journalist in his hometown of Hopeland, Tenn.
“This is a travel story where our main character is on a journey,” Brooks said. “He’s having a physical, spiritual and emotional journey. He packs his luggage but he also has to bring his baggage from his own life. He’s a very flawed man from the story’s beginning. He’s a reporter working at the Hopeland Morning Journal for 10 years, along with his twin brother, Chet.”
According to Brooks, the modern-day story opens with Landom getting on a plane in New Orleans after graduating from a religious seminary.
“He’s about to become a pastor. Everything that seminary and life prepares you for, does not answer three questions,” Brook said. “So he’s taking his journal out and writing about those three main questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? He’s going back to home — going back to a place that he vowed to leave. Why?”
Being a travel story, Brooks said the story covers Landom’s journey from New Orleans to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Chattanooga, from Chattanooga to the Mountain View Inn in Cleveland, then from Cleveland to Hopeland, where he visits the local elementary school where the small church is having a meeting.
Brooks, who is an associate pastor at Waterville Baptist Church in Cleveland, said, “The story is based on my hope of what life could be like for Baptists and everyone else,” Brooks said. “This is about a church where red, yellow, black and white people are united. There is no more Sunday segregation, but love for all people from all races. We learn about Jordan Landom’s baggage and what made him who he is. And what makes a pastor what a pastor is. That’s a question I wanted to explore, which is why I started this book in the beginning.”
Brooks, who worked at the Banner and did some writing before devoting most of his time to pastoring, admitted he had to get this story out of his system, because it has a message and a purpose that he believes will speak to a lot of people.
“Hopeland is a land of hope,” he said of the town in his story. “Jordan cuts lines between himself and Hopeland. He has to cut lines between himself and his revenge-seeking, as well as his anger and bitterness toward his dad. So there are some cut lines that redemption restores. That’s the main message of the story.”
It is Landom’s travels back home where he experiences his first brush with grace, according to Brooks. It is where he discovers something far beyond his desire to lead and serve as a hometown pastor — something even more fulfilling.
“We get caught up in our daily world, our schedule and our forgetfulness and we forget why we got into the ministry in the first place,” Brooks said. “This is a book with layers.”
The book touches on race relations, life’s tragedies and the triumph of the human spirit that seeks to glorify God and answer the questions that people are struggling with, according to Brooks.
It took the Cleveland resident two years to complete his novel, which will be available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and booksamillion.com later in November. It will also be on sale at Cherokee Pharmacy in Cleveland in November. There will be a book signing at the Cleveland-Bradley County Public Library on Nov. 9, from noon to 3 p.m.
Brooks has been married for 26 years to his wife, Lisa. They have two sons, Kyle, 20, and Graham, 16, and one grandson, Benjamin, by Kyle and his wife, Tecla.