Deacon John Gresham responded to the invitation to author this book, with a text that truly invites us into a rich Lenten journey with the saints of Africa. A flaming love for Jesus Christ is the common thread that binds these clerics, Desert Fathers and Mothers, and martyrs together, offering their flame to kindle our hearts. I hope Christians of all walks will take this volume as a guidebook towards the glorious Resurrection of Christ.
—Nun Katherine Weston, author
President of the Fellowship of St. Moses the BlackA beautiful collection of saint stories, each short enough to read in a few minutes but long enough to capture the essence of each saint. May we learn what each of these African Saints have to teach us.
—Phoebe Farag Mikhail, author of Putting Joy Into Practice
Recovering the tradition of African Christian holy men and women from centuries-long neglect, Fr. Deacon John R. Gresham, Jr. restores the sacredness of early African Christians to modern seekers. This book is a remedy for the broken images about Black sanctity that have eroded the hope of the African diaspora and the whole Church in the years since violence, greed, and negligence pushed these stories into obscurity. From the African pilgrim who carried Christ’s cross in His passion to the holy women in hiding who overcame demons in Christ’s name, these African Christian ancestors shone so brightly that they still enlighten the Church, extending the call to the African diaspora to reclaim their place at God’s table. With poetic prayers and suggested scripture readings after each brief recollection of a saint, this daily lenten devotional will draw you into habits that will build you up to be more like the saints, too.
This collection of the stories of 49 saints from Africa can be read in Lent or at any time of the year.
About the Author
One “who brings out of his treasure things new and old,” Father Deacon John R. Gresham, Jr., M.Div., draws forth the rich wisdom of African Christian faith to glorify Christ in his writings that recollect the dignity and grace of his forebears. Deacon John’s relatable application of insights from saints is borne of his ministry with teens at Saint Basil the Great Orthodox Church in Hampton, Virginia.Deacon John is a native of King William County, VA and a graduate of Virginia State University. He studied at the Virginia Union University School of Theology and was the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, West Point. He converted to Orthodox Christianity in 2014 and completed the St. Stephen’s Certificate in Orthodox Theology from the Antiochian House of Studies in 2018. The same year, John was Ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace Bishop Thomas. Deacon John serves at the Saint Basil the Great parish in Hampton, VA where he is also a Teen SOYO advisor. He has served on the national board of the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black. He is a Ranger at York River State Park in Williamsburg and Membership Staffer at the Greater West Point YMCA. Deacon and Shamassy Brenda have been married for 30 years and reside in West Point.
About the Cover Image Artist: Steve Prince | Artist, Educator, Art Evangelist
Steve Prince is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and currently resides in Williamsburg, Virginia. Prince was born and raised Catholic from kindergarten through college. He received his BFA from Xavier University of Louisiana and his MFA in Printmaking and Sculpture from Michigan State University. He is the Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William and Mary University. He has created several public and private commissions nationally and he has received numerous honors for his art and scholarship including the 2020 International Engage Art Contest Visual Art Grand Prize Winner, and the 2010 Teacher of the Year for the City of Hampton. Prince has shown his art internationally in various solo, group, and juried exhibitions. He is an accomplished lecturer and workshop conductor in both sacred and secular settings internationally through a variety of media. In 2019 he worked with over 500 people to create a collective art piece focusing on the history of chattel slavery stemming from the first documented Africans arriving on the shores of Point Comfort in 1619. His project was called Links which metaphorically championed the inextricable connections we have as human beings. Prince spreads a message of hope and renewal to the global community. His philosophy is derived from the cathartic Jazz funerary tradition in New Orleans, Louisiana called the Dirge and Second Line. Conversely, the Dirge represents the everyday issues and pains we confront and endure, whereas the Second Line represents new life, restoration, salvation, and yearning for the eternal while we are still alive. Find his work at: https://steveprincestudio.com/
About the Illustrator
A senior dev ops software engineer by day, Park End Books Associate Editor Andrew Kinard has practiced traditional Byzantine panel iconography for a decade, studying with masters from Greek, Romanian, Russian, and Bulgarian iconography traditions. In adapting traditional iconographic line drawings for the chapter headings, Andrew sought to highlight the African elements in the representations of the saints depicted with details like real First Century Lybian textile patterns on Simon of Cyrene’s robes.
Releases February 20, 2022, The feast of St. Bessarion the Great
Become All Flame
By Fr. Deacon John R. Gresham, Jr.
I found this book perfect for my Lenten reading this year. A beautiful collection of SAINT stories broken up for weekly digesting. Which each story was brief ( perfect for the mother or father of many little ones) they leave you with the essence of the Saint. Enough for you to ponder all day on them. Each meditation I was able to use as my point of prayer for the day.
Fr. Deacon John really hit this one out of the park! I am very picky about my Lenten reads as it is such an important time of reflection toward the glorious Resurrection of Christ. I am so thankful that this was the book for my Lenten journey. I’ll be purchasing a spare copy to loan out to friends and parishioners.