Published by Good Book Company on September 1, 2019
Genres: Non-Fiction, Theology, Devotional
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Hear the voices of women of color on the most important subject in any age—the word of God.
This inspiring collection of devotions is by a diverse group of women of color—African-Americans, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian women. Contributors include Kristie Anyabwile, Jackie Hill-Perry, Trillia Newbell, Elicia Horton, Christina Edmondson, Blair Linne, and more.
It is a faithful exposition of Psalm 119 and incorporates each contributor’s cultural expression both within the teaching and as they bring the word of God to bear on their lives. Readers will be thrilled and encouraged by hearing God speak through his word as it is expounded by these faithful women teachers, and they will long for more.
In February 2019, I chose to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting an African-American pastor or religious figure every day on my Facebook page. It was an incredible experience for me to dive into the lives and writings of so many great men and women of God whose teachings my own religious training had neglected. As I scanned my academic shelf—where I keep all my commentaries and such—I was a bit dismayed to find that I was sorely lacking in any perspective from people of color. And as the white pastor of a primarily Asian congregation, and as the dad of an African-American son and an Iraqi-American daughter, I knew I had to do better.
In September, I came across His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God. Here was exactly what I needed. It’s late November now and I’m sure that The Good Book Company, the book’s publisher, is convinced that I’m never going to submit this review. I’m sorry I took so long. I needed time to pour over this, to meditate on it, to give it the time it deserves.
The book is divided into 29 sections written by 27 different contributors, so I’ve gone through at the pace of one every other day or so, letting their words of wisdom soak in. It’s a loose structure, but His Testimonies, My Heritage takes Psalm 119 as its theme—verse 111 reads: Your testimonies are my heritage forever.
There’s no attempt at conformity within these devotions. The authors’ individual voices and lived experiences shine through. Some write your typical devotional treatises on their assigned passages. Others invoke themes that speak to their gender or race. One particularly evocative section – for me personally, anyway – is Kristie Anyabwile’s devotional “Raising Black Boys with Hope.” Some are highly theological (Dr. K.A. Ellis wastes no time delving into the Hebrew), others are more conversational, and still others take the form of poetry.
The diversity of voices creates for an interesting experience, because no two days are the same. The reader can never feel settled in a routine or rhythm because there’s always something new coming. If this had been the product of one author, it would be off-putting, but coming as a collaboration where the intended purpose is to hear a diversity of voices come together in unity—it’s absolute perfection.
His Testimonies, My Heritage is one of the most unique books I’ve read this year and that’s a problem. That’s a problem for me personally. That’s a problem for the industry at large. This book shouldn’t be unique. Expressions of worship and musings on theology should not be limited to the white, male perspective. But it often is. This book shows that it doesn’t have to be—and it gives you two dozen names to begin filling your library with to do better.
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