Book Review

Out of the Black Shadows

By Stephen Lungu with Anne Coomes

Most of us read books on the basis of recommendations. We have been told from a very early age not to judge a book by its cover, a very hard thing not to do. But if we succeed in not judging a book that way, we need some way ahead of time to choose the books that are worth our time. Those of you who read a lot may just need a gentle nudge in the direction of a good book, and off you go to see if it is at the local library or if Borders has it. Others only read when a book is on the New York Times Best Sellers List, a recommendation of sorts, in that the books thereon are read by a lot of people, therefore they must be good.

Many people I talk to tell me that they just don’t have time to read, although they would like to. Then, of course, there are those who have not read a book since they had to for school, but this article is not for them (they wouldn’t be reading this anyway). This is to recommend a specific Christian book by which I was recently blessed. The chance of any of you reading this book is next to nothing unless it came strongly recommended, hence, this review.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us to follow him as he followed Christ. A very useful tool in growing in our faith is to read of the many faithful followers of our Lord, and then to follow them as they followed Christ. Biographies of these saints are plentiful and well worth the read. The church’s children’s library has a whole slough of them.

Out of the Black Shadows, the autobiography of Stephen Lungu with Anne Coomes, is a wonderful telling of the grace of God in the life of a young Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) from a black township near Salisbury. A mother who abandoned him, a father who didn’t want him, an aunt who considered him only another mouth to feed, all were factors that led him to live on the streets, eating out of white folk’s trash bins, and with every human reason to be angry and bitter at the hand dealt him. He comes of age during the turbulent 60’s when the blacks of Rhodesia were wanting to throw off the yoke of the whites, and the street kids were the recruits. Stephen was swept up into this turmoil, a very willing and angry young revolutionary. He even went into an evangelistic tent meeting with his cohorts, their pockets filled with Molotov cocktails and guns.

It was just at this point in reading that my youngest daughter, Sevan, interrupted me, wanting me to put down my book and do something with her. I told her that I couldn’t because of the place I was in the book. I saw my best chance to continue reading was to tell her what had happened so far, which I did. Her response was, “Read it to me.” So we read on together. Her biggest concern was whether or not he was ever reunited with his mother. (We cheated and looked at the pictures.) From this point on the tale only got better; how the Lord saved him; how he got his first Bible, which he could not read; the preaching in the marketplaces; Bible school; finding a wife; his first trip to the United States and how warm, friendly and time conscious the Americans were; and so on.

Now I did know the ultimate outcome when starting to read the book, i.e. that Stephen Lungu is the newly appointed International Director of African Enterprises. African Enterprises is an evangelistic ministry in all of Africa that also does a lot of work in reconciliation between churches and between races. But knowing this only enhanced my wonder at how Stephen could ever get to that position, and what “amazing grace brought him safe thus far.”

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