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Uplifting narratives    

22 December 2016

Leigh Hatts considers triumphs of grace

John Sentamu’s Agape Love Stories: 22 stories of God’s love changing lives today
John Sentamu
DLT £9.99
Church Times Bookshop £9


ARCHBISHOP John Sentamu’s Agape Love Stories are told by 22 remarkable individuals. All have an uplifting true tale, for which the Archbishop of York offers an ind­i­vidual reflective foreword.

“God’s love for us is ever renewed as we pour it out and share it,” he writes. The book follows on from his popular Faith Stories (Books, 5 July 2013) and Hope Stories (Books, 12 December 2014). Many of the featured role-models were thrown unexpectedly into a terrible situa­tion, such as kidnap, and have found the strength to carry out a worthy and sometimes life-long response.

Among well-known names is Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, which helps people with disabilities. He remains concerned about the fear of difference, especially in France today, but maintains that when people discover that they are valuable they can feel good about living.

“How we respond” is one of the key headings reflecting initiatives, including turning a bus into a mobile church for those who would not otherwise attend, or creating radio drama conveying health messages across Africa, which were all started with little money.

Not all stories are easy to read. In “A forgiving spirit”, Maureen Greaves spares little detail of the murder of her husband, Alan. It is made more painful by her descrip­tion of hearing about the attack and then learning that he was dead from a blow with an axe handle rather than being at midnight mass, play­ing the organ. She immediately asked God to help her to forgive the perpetrators, and now continues her husband’s community work.

Ten-year-old Damilola Taylor was in news headlines after his murder in Peckham. At the time, his father, Richard, was at work in a parliamentary office in Lagos. He collapsed. His later response was to start a charity helping disaffected young people in areas such as Peckham.

This book can be read when one is feeling depressed and hard done by, or recommended to others who are experiencing difficult circum­stances.


Leigh Hatts is a writer and online journalist.

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