Resilience through believing

by
12 October 2012

Alexander Lucie-Smith is refreshed by a good listener

Journey of Hope: Stories of courage and faith from Africa
Jean Gibson
Monarch Books £8.99
(978-0-85721-295-5)
Church Times Bookshop £8.10

THERE is so much bad news that comes out of Africa that it is refresh­ing to read a book whose subtitle is Stories of courage and faith from Africa.

The author travelled through Malawi and Kenya in 2011; she had taught in Kenya a decade pre­viously, and was also able to draw on con­tacts made through the Presbyterian missionaries from Ireland who work in both countries. Wherever she went, she listened to people's stories, and this book is the result.

We hear the Africans relating their experience, which may be rather different from what outsiders may assume their experience to be. The story of Kasoni, a Samburu woman in Kenya, is very instructive. She resists female genital mutilation (FGM), not because it is painful and dangerous to health (which are the usual Western arguments against it), but because she sees it as incom­patible with her Christian faith. And she is prepared, for the sake of the faith, to remain unmarried (for no man will have an uncircumcised woman) and an outcast from her tribe and family. The greatest pres­sure to be "cut" comes from her mother and father.

All Christians in Kenya have campaigned against FGM, but this story is enlightening, because it shows us how the campaign can be won.

The other revelation here is that so much of the work done by missionaries is not material. True, there are things like building bridges over crocodile-infested rivers so that children can get to school; but the Christian faith has also given people the courage to face up to the chal­lenges of life. Africa has an appal-ling road-safety record, sadly, and, in this book, we meet several people bereaved by traffic accidents who, nevertheless, manage to con­tinue their lives in difficult circumstances.

Faith is a great gift, and, unlike material aid, it never goes to waste.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

100 Best Christian Books

How many have you read?

Visit the 100 Best Christian Books website to see which books made our list, read the judges' notes and add your own comments.

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)