First of its kind book seeks to restore holy stories to the African Diaspora
SUGAR LAND, Texas — Who carried the cross for Christ? Who carried the Good News to Ethiopia? Who collated the list of books we now call the New Testament? They were African saints.
In his new book, Become All Flame: Lent with African Saints, Fr. Deacon John R. Gresham, Jr. highlights the stories of more than 50 African Christian saints from the time of Jesus Christ through the seventh century. He hopes to restore these holy stories to the African diaspora. From big-name African saints like St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Anthony the Great to less-familiar saints like the prostitute-turned-nun St. Thais, this collection honors the holy examples of a wide variety of men and women who followed Christ in the early centuries of the faith.
According to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center, 83 percent of the nation’s 42 million African Americans attend religious services regularly. Yet, few know about the long history of African Christian saints (holy people whose examples inspire others) from Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus’ cross for him, to the monks and nuns and ordinary faithful family members who made Africa the heart of Christianity up until the early Middle Ages. In his introduction, Gresham explores how this travesty of memory came to be and sets out the goal of reclaiming a place at the table, restoring the centrality of African saints to the story of the early church.
Lent begins March 2 in the Catholic Church and March 7 for Orthodox Christians. For members of both faith communities, Lent is a time of renewed commitment to almsgiving, fasting, sacred reading and prayer. This book comes just in time for Christians to receive it in time for Lent.
Fr. Deacon John R. Gresham, Jr., an Orthodox Christian clergyman and previous pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in West Point, Va., has deep roots in King William County, Va., where he is a park ranger at York River State Park in Williamsburg and Membership Staffer at the Greater West Point YMCA. He is currently a deacon serving the teens at Saint Basil the Great Orthodox Church in Hampton, Va. He brings his pastoral sensibilities and his deep focus on prayer to this collection of saints’ lives, which includes 49 bespoke prayers honoring and asking prayers from the saints.
The book features the cover image “Surrender” by artist Steve Prince, a resident of Williamsburg, VA. Become All Flame: Lent with African Saints was released February 20, 2022, by Park End Books and is available from ParkEndBooks.com and wherever books are sold.
ISBN: 978-1-953427-21-2 Price: $17.95
Park End Books
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