Excerpt from Beautiful Vessels

When I came to Christ as a young adult I learned about European theologians like Martin Luther and John Calvin, but didn’t learn that they were mentored by the writings and teachings of Africans like Saint Augustine. I heard often about American missionaries bringing Christianity to Africa, but never heard that there were Christian communities in Africa as far back as the very origins of the Church. 

Although not explicitly taught, these subtle misrepresentations and deletions were damaging….

As I entered my forties, I became increasingly aware that my soul’s uneasiness with these incongruencies was a form of discernment. The Spirit was drawing me to dig deeper. 

For many years now, Jesus has been guiding me into encounters and discoveries to heal my image of God and anchor my life in the truth of his love for me and for all people.

This healing — this spiritual reformation in Christ — has many layers. It is only in the last decade that I have understood the significance of Christianity’s origins in Africa…. My ancestors came from a land with its own language, customs, traditions, and wisdom. My people are included in God’s divine plan as equally valued image-bearers. Their accounts of life with God — and those of other historically excluded Christian voices — have something to teach us.

Growing our library of devotional classics to more fully represent the worldwide Church connects us to what is true about God. Our lives are enriched by the ideas and experiences of Jesus’ friends who come from outside our family or group or nation. This is true for all of us… Only good can come from seeking the lived wisdom of our Christian brothers and sisters from all nations and tribes, all races and languages,” because this helps align our vision with the ultimate reality as God has revealed it.

This letter first appeared in Beautiful Vessels, a Renovaré resource for spiritual formation. Beautiful Vessels highlights two unique writers whose voices most of us have never heard: Bakht Singh and Sojourner Truth. You can download the booklet free or purchase a print copy here.

Adapted from Tina Dyer’s introduction to Beautiful Vessels, a Renovaré resource for spiritual formation.

Image: Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still Life with Books and a Violin, 1628.

· Last Featured on Renovare.org February 2024