Lord of Legends: Jesus’ Redemption Quest What do you get when you send a Division I athlete and aspiring comic/theater kid to teach conversational English at a university in China’s Jiangxi province for two years in service with Lutheran World Mission? You get stories. Lots of stories. Be they unearthed or created for the first time, these stories have not only brought priceless remnants of history to the contemporary consciousness; they have distinguished the man who tells them. Striking an ideal balance between humor and reverence for the source material, Eric Eichinger is a masterful storyteller who heeded the adage, “write what you know” to astonishing effect with his first book, the #1 Amazon best-seller, The Final Race. With riveting detail and captivating charm, Eichinger told the true World War II story of his personal inspiration, Eric Liddell, the Olympic runner who was the basis of 1981’s Oscar-winning movie, Chariots of Fire. In his upcoming book, Lord of Legends: Jesus’ Redemption Quest, available February 1, 2022, from Concordia Publishing House, Eichinger continues to draw upon his plethora of life experiences, expertise, faith, and a life-long love of classic comics to deliver the compelling story of the original superhero, Jesus Christ. Eichinger tells the story of the Savior of mankind from child prodigy to miracle worker to sacrificial lamb and conquering King—a story more riveting, compelling, and awe-inspiring than even the greatest works of fiction. Raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Eichinger grew up in a loving family which was actively involved with Zion Lutheran Church. His faith, cultivated from childhood, would come to guide the trajectory of his life and future ministry. While never a bad student, Eichinger’s grades were only slightly above average at his demanding private school, which impacted his academic confidence and psyche. “I was never very popular growing up,” he says. “My escape was comics. My dad would drive me to the Chicago Comic Convention, where I met and had comics signed by many of my comic artist and writer heroes—notably, Stan Lee.” When his father commented to Mickey Spillane, a crime novelist, that his son might be a writer one day as well, a person behind them in line laughed and rolled his eyes. “That lit a fire in me,” Eichinger recalls. Said fire spread quickly, as, around the same time, young Eichinger discovered he could run. And he could run fast. “In junior high and high school, I realized I was one of the fastest runners in my class, then in the school, then in the conference, then in the state of Michigan, then one of the fastest at Michigan State, and in the Big Ten Conference,” says Eichinger. “Ultimately I ran a 1:51 800m, and 3:49 1500m (the equivalent of a 4:04 mile). I learned that when I set my mind and focused, I was capable of big things.” In addition to distinguishing himself as an athlete, Eichinger was a theater major in college and had had his creative sights set on a possible career as a stand-up comedian, venturing to Second City in Chicago, and New York City. However, he was consistently engaged in ministry throughout his school years and beyond, and was often encouraged to consider going the pastoral route. “I feared being ‘shackled’ to a pulpit every Sunday for the rest of my life,” says Eichinger. “I ran from that like Jonah.” Still feeling the call to greater missions work, though, he ran straight to China to teach English and minister for two years, which, at the time, “seemed cooler than being a pastor.” However, just a few months into his tenure in China, while working in a dusty library and singing one of his favorite hymns, “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree,” he felt a clear call to attend seminary and become a pastor. First, however, he had to finish his two-year stint overseas, which proved to be far more challenging than he could have imagined. “My first of two years in China were extremely difficult,” Eichinger recalls. “God slowly took everything away from me—family, friends, favorite foods, sports, a relationship, even the ability to read or speak the language all around me. God broke me down.” He didn’t stay down for long. As he learned to appreciate new foods and share American sports with his new Chinese friends who became like family, God began to build him back up in ways that proved to be life changing. Shortly after his personal epiphany about his call to the pulpit, he met and became friends with his future wife, Kara. But as the savvy daughter of a pastor, Kara was less than enthused about the prospect of re-entering life in the ministry fishbowl. “She was hesitant to say the least,” Eichinger says with a laugh. “But ultimately, she is the consummate ‘pastor’s wife’ because she knows so much, and consistently helps me avoid ministry pitfalls, while also supporting and enhancing what I do.” In addition to meeting his life-long partner, Eichinger had the chance to visit the gravesite of his life-long running and missionary inspiration, Eric Liddell. The trek, which he calls, an “excruciatingly hard but epic trip,” would become the impetus for his first major writing project that would open the door to his writing career. Upon returning to the states, Eichinger entered seminary. In his third year, he drew upon his missions experience, as well as his theological and theater background, to pen a screenplay sequel to Chariots of Fire, which eventually helped him acquire a literary agent and a publishing deal with Tyndale House Publishers. Today, in his 15th year behind a pulpit, Eichinger and Kara rejoice in the blessings God has poured into their lives, not the least of which are their three children—Elsie (13), Lukas (11), and Isaak (6)—a jackpot trifecta of youthful delight. In his upcoming book, Lord of Legends: Jesus’ Redemption Quest, the dedicated father, husband, pastor, author, and kid-at-heart taps the imagination of contemporary hero-fandom. But instead of the fictional superheroes, multi-verses, epic quests, and origin stories that permeate popular culture, Eichinger takes us back to the original superhero and Savior of mankind—Jesus Christ. Much like the scrawny Steve Rogers turned Captain America or the orphaned Bruce Wayne becoming the vigilante hero in a bat suit, Jesus’ beginning is, to say the least, humble. Unlike the fictional conquests of superheroes in masks and capes, the story of Jesus—from His birth to an unwed teenager in the dirt and muck of a stable a long time ago in a land far, far away—is the true tale of an unlikely hero, the child born a King. Deftly weaving the tale of this miracle baby, Eichinger recounts the supernatural feats that characterized Jesus’ brief time on this earth. And it is the stuff of legends. By the age of 12, the boy Jesus is teaching and conversing with the rabbis and other religious elite of the temple. By age 30, He is turning water into wine, healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding thousands, and bringing the dead to life. Of course, what would a hero’s story be without sacrifice? In the most courageous display of compassion, passion, and sacrificial love in the history of the world, Jesus lays down His life to save the souls of every man, woman, and child—past, present, and future. From the stable to the cross, Eichinger takes readers on a journey that is far more than entertainment; it is a journey of grace, redemption, and the eternal salvation available to us all—a tribute and reflection of Eichinger’s own path. Pouring his faith, passion, and conviction into every word he writes, every sermon he preaches, and every life he touches, the fast kid who once fled the call of ministry is an enthralling storyteller, compassionate pastor, and willing vessel. Without question, Eichinger has proven that, yes, when he sets his mind and focuses, he can accomplish big things. Hand in hand with Christ, who has anchored his heart and life, the sky is the limit. ERIC T. EICHINGER