February is known all across the world as I Love to Read Month. In the spirit of this universal promotion, pastors from all around Manitoba shared their favourite books, their takeaways and words to encourage others to begin their reading journey.

Pastor Philip Olabisi

From the Redeemed Christian Church of God: Living Seed Church, Pastor Philip Olabisi says his favourite book is Identity Crisis by Oyebode Olaoluwa.

"My favourite quote from the book is, 'if you don't know who you are, people will tell you who you are not,'" says Olabisi.

He says that people, the environment and specific circumstances will try to tell a person who they are, however, only the person can know what their true identity is.

Olabisi encourages teenagers and young adults to read this book, as that is where most people find themselves having an identity crisis. The book can offer them guidance on how to deal with any transitions they are facing in their lives.

"I just want to encourage anyone struggling to find 2-3 people that align with your interest to read and you can always challenge one another and you'll be amazed how much you'll develop mentally."

Pastor Mark Doerksen

Mark Doerksen, the Heartland Regional Minister for the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, provides a long list of educational books that he highly recommends people try reading.

His list includes, but isn't limited to:

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Jayber Cros by Wendell Berry 
  • Pastoral Song by James Rebanks
  • A Lifer's Journey by Hank Dixon
  • The Ballad of Danny Wolfe by Joe Friesen
  • King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Mochschild
  • And more! Watch the YouTube video for more of his recommendations.

Doerksen says he returns quite often to Philip Yancey's Soul Survivor as one of his favourite books to read because of the message it portrays.

"[Yancey] looks at different people and people's lives and talks about how faith was expressed in their lives and how that has actually helped his faith survive," says Doerksen. "I think that's an important exercise and I found it very helpful to read about some other folks whose faith has been something that sustained them."

The Heartland Regional Minister suggests that if people don't like to read, try audiobooks.

Pastor Kirsten Kroeker

From Willowlake Baptist Church, Kirsten Kroeker is the lead pastor and shares that her favourite book is titled With by Skye Jethani.

"It's about how we relate to God," says Kroeker. "And so we often think about our relationship with God is what we do for God, or how we please God, how we live under Him or sometimes, unfortunately, how we want to manipulate God so that He can do what we want."

This challenging book allows the reader to reflect on their lives and how they should live life with God. It changed Kroeker's outlook on her relationship with God and encourages people to read it to reflect on their own relationship with the Lord.

"I think reading can be easier or harder depending on where you start. There are some books that I only would recommend to people who have a passion for reading and others I'd say not everyone can take this up."

Kroeker says that if people are interested in creating a habit of reading more but want to start with something that is not as dense, to read Skye Jethani's series What if Jesus was Seriouswhich includes a lot of illustrations and devotional thoughts.

Pastor Ed Neufeld

Pastor Ed Neufled from Kleefeld Christian Community talks about his favourite novel series, The Aubrey and Maturin Adventures by Patrick O'Brian, and why it's valuable to use reading as a tool to escape reality.

There are 20 books in the series and it follows the adventures of two unlikely friends, Jake Aubrey who is a royal navy captain, and Steven Maturin who is a surgeon. It is through this series of following these two characters that take Nefueld to another place and create a way for him and his wife to bond.

"About two years ago my wife had pretty significant eye problems and she could no longer read more than a page or two and I've been reading them out loud to her in the evenings," says Neufeld. 

A person doesn't always need to read to learn something or gain some type of knowledge, and Neufeld agrees because he reads to take a break from the stressors of reality.

Neufeld encourages people to take up reading as a healthy and constructive way of finding distractions from the real world.

Pastor Cam Stephens

The teaching pastor at Grant Memorial Baptist Church, Cam Stephens shares his love for reading and has similar tastes in books with Pastor Kirsten Kroeker.

Although Stephens says he loves to learn and that is where his passion for reading comes from. He also has a hard time deciding on his all-time favourite book, but he talks about one book that comes to mind which has impacted the way he lives his life—With by Skye Jethani.

"The reason this book comes to mind is we just recently walked through this book as a staff," says Stephens. "It invites us to consider the way that we relate to God."

The teaching pastor says that this book is a good reminder that God created us to live life with Him in every area of our life.

Stephens says that people should consider reading to gain wisdom from people who have already gone through hard situations. Many authors write about what they've learned in their life and want to share that knowledge with their readers.