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Five, six—seven books. It was 1987, and I was ringing up another sale in my bookstore three blocks off the Indiana University campus in Bloomington. Four of the books were No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, two were God Came Near, and one was On the Anvil. All of the books were by a little-known missionary to Brazil named Max Lucado. "You must really like this author," I said to the customer as she wrote out her check. "Someone gave me his books, and I just love them," she said. "Now I want to give copies to all my friends."

This scenario repeated itself over the next few years as each subsequent Lucado book connected like wildfire with readers in our university town. It was a word-of-mouth phenomenon happening on a much larger scale across the United States—and it showed no signs of stopping.

Today, almost two decades since the release of his first book in 1985, Lucado has written more than 50 books that have sold 33 million copies and been translated into 30 languages. His books are staples on Christian bestseller lists; 10 have sold close to or more than 1 million copies. Pretty good for a writer whose first manuscript was rejected by 14 publishers.

In his books and his sermons, Lucado uses simple anecdotes, retells Bible stories, and emphasizes the Cross, grace and forgiveness, and second chances. It's a message Lucado embraced again after walking away from Christ as a teenager. It's also a message that, unobtrusively and with little fanfare, is engaging more and more readers as the years go on.

A Non-celebrity Pastor

Despite his growing fame as a writer, Lucado, 49, continues to preach 40 Sundays a year, as well as at midweek services, at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he is senior minister. He's been at ...

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March 2004

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