As a young boy growing up in San Francisco, Joel Engle never knew his father. Joel's mother raised him as best she knew how, managing to provide by working a nine to five job at an oil company. Tragedy struck when Joel found his mother lying on the kitchen floor one morning after suffering a massive stroke. Soon after she passed away, leaving an eleven year old Joel in the care of his elderly grandparents. Just three years later there was even more upheaval when Joel's grandfather passed away and his grandmother went to live in a retirement home. "Life was basically miserable and I was constantly afraid," reflects Joel. "I was consumed with thoughts of what was going to happen to me. I felt alone, unloved, and unhappy." At the age of fourteen, there was no other option for a distraught Joel but to check himself into the local Baptist Children's Home.
At the age of 16, Joel met some close friends of his house parents by the name of Dale and Nadine Engle. A bond was formed and soon after, he ended up not only moving in to live with them, but also became part of the family by taking their last name as his. It was a landmark year for Joel, including his realization that Christ was the only one that would never leave him. From then on with his hope firmly planted, there was no looking back.
In fact, Joel found himself staring at an old, brown upright piano in his new room at the Engle household. I just stared at it because I couldnt play anything much except for the infamous Chopsticks, Joel laments. "I longed to use my talents for Him. I prayed God if you will give me the ability to play the piano, I will never sing a song or write a song that doesn't glorify your name!" Joel's boldness and surrender were soon rewarded.
Joel went on to study music and theology on scholarship at Oklahoma Baptist University. While there, he met and eventually married his wife Valerie. After college, he toured with Dawson McAllister student conferences for 3 years, playing in front of crowds upward of 500,000 per year. Then in 1997, Joel and wife Val, who shared his heart for ministry, started Spin360, a modern worship resource that provides worship leaders with songs, chord charts, sheet music, and other tools (currently over 9,000 churches worldwide utilize Spin360). Joel's piano and vocal talents were also simultaneously being put to good use with a constant slew of camp dates, conferences, and outreach opportunities with the Billy Graham Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Student Life.
All the while, Joel was making his own independent album releases to go hand-in-hand with the ministry dates he was active in. "I had to go through a huge healing process over my growing up years," says Joel. "The songs I was writing became natural expressions of how God delivered me from the wounds of the past. There are so many Christians today who live in pain secretly that I want to give hope to by showing how God healed me."