A Parable Comes to Life in The Prodigal

Andrew Greenhalgh

Author:  Michael English
Title:  The Prodigal Comes Home       
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

In 1994, a young man from rural North Carolina found himself standing at the pinnacle of the Christian music world.  The previous few years had seen this young singer rise to fame, his stellar lead vocals storming the charts and bringing him accolade after accolade.  And, no, we’re not talking about Steven Curtis Chapman

In fact, it’s possible you’ve never even heard of this man.  And, as Michael English declares in his new autobiography, The Prodigal Comes Home, there’s part of him that’s just fine with that.  For, just after receiving the coveted Artist of the Year award, Michael English found himself on the wrong end of a firestorm that began long before and that would take a disastrous toll on his marriage, career, and life.

The Prodigal Comes Home details English’s journey through these times, offering up an unabashed look at the rise of a Christian celebrity through the ranks of southern gospel music.  English details a number of childhood events that would play a pivotal role later in his life as he would encounter struggles with panic disorders and other emotional issues.  He openly shares of his sub-par performance as a husband with his wife and is also painfully honest about the affair that would ultimately begin his downward spiral and shake the pillars of Christian music.

English also goes on to detail his disenchantment with the Christian world as a whole, feeling rejected by them and finding solace in the clubbing lifestyle where he found himself formally introduced to the world of drug addiction.  English’s story of decline into drug abuse is textbook, telling of starting small and deliberate and finding himself drawn into things little by little like the proverbial “frog in the pot.”  Whether its drugs or some other struggle readers have, all can identify with the hurting star as he falls further and further and feels out of control, even getting to the point of trying heroin and cocaine.

Yet, English chooses not to candy-coat his circumstances.  He speaks with unflinching honesty of how his addictions led to the neglect of his daughter and their relationship and of himself overall.  On a couple of occasions, he shares tales of holing up in his apartment, going days upon days without bathing, eating, or taking his dogs outside.  And, once inside rehab, he offers up more helpings of honesty in memories of the withdrawal process.  English’s remembrances are hard to hear but remain necessary to the story.

Finally, and most importantly, English ends his tale with the never-ending story of God’s grace.  Having intertwined the coming of their relationship into his narrative, he shares with glowing words the joy of his marriage to his wife, Marcie and of the subsequent birth of their daughter, Isabella Grace.  Likewise, he shares of the slow resuscitation of his career and finds honor and worth in performing on the smallest of stages, even after having performed before thousands.

Michael English’s story truly is a modern-day rendition of parable of the prodigal son.  Coming from a place of love and honor, choosing his own way over that of his father, and falling into sin, English has been there, done that.  Yet, as his story reminds us, we have a Father to run home to and to beg forgiveness from.  Michael English has walked a long journey but is finally home.  The Prodigal Comes Home invites you to learn and rejoice with him.  

© 2007 Infuze Magazine
.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.