"The disciplines of prayer, spiritual direction, and soul care are needed in all communities." Barbara L. Peacock

My Turn to Be the White Person in the Black Room

I have a long list of spiritual giants to whom I’ve looked for inspiration in my following life. Names like C.S. Lewis, Teresa of Avila, Madeleine L’Engle, and Eugene Peterson come to mind, and it’s likely that you also have a list, different from mine, but comprising familiar names from church history or Christian culture. North American and European scholars and thinkers have traditionally held predominate places on our personal hero lists, and in Soul Care in African American Practice, Barbara L. Peacock throws open a window to the fresh thinking of African church fathers and more contemporary African American contributors to our spiritual heritage.

For example, when we read Augustine, Clement, Origen, Tertullian, and Athanasius, does it ever occur to us that they are of African descent? A careful reading of the New Testament reveals that the gospel actually reached African soil before it traveled to Great Britain or Western Europe.

In her writing, Peacock has filled a room with African American voices, the familiar as well as the unfamiliar, and then invited her readers to overhear a conversation about spiritual formation. For me, it is a rare privilege, indeed, to be the white person in a black room, so I took careful notes, scribbled in the margins, and underlined names and concepts for future research. Join me now in that room with this thought front and center:

“The disciplines of prayer, spiritual direction, and soul care are needed in all communities.”

Page 158

Prayer

Citing the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Dr. Harold Carter, and others, Peacock demonstrates the impact of a prayerful life on an individual and on the course of history. Prayer is the “spiritual discipline that causes our ear to be attentive to the voice of our almighty, all-knowing, and all-powerful God as he speaks his words of wisdom and direction.”

Spiritual Direction

It was fascinating to be reminded that spiritual direction in the African American community would have begun on slave ships as one captive spoke words of encouragement and hope into the ear of another. Faith born and nurtured in tribulation and under oppressive conditions becomes a sinewy thing. Peacock has played a key role in promoting the teaching and practice of spiritual direction in the African American Church, and her website, Barbara L. Peacock Ministries, is a resource as well as an inspiration for those committed to a deeper relationship with God.

Soul Care

Dr. Jessica Ingram is just one of the leaders introduced as a trailblazer in caring for souls. In her ministry, she emphasizes the importance of relationship with God as our traveling companion who gives us permission to slow down and tend to the needs of our soul. Intimacy with God is the fountain that continually fills up the thirsty soul, providing living water for the individual that spills over into a robust community of faith.

Barbara Peacock is first and foremost a teacher, and since we learn best by doing, she has equipped her readers with opportunities to practice habits of holiness, embedded in each chapter. Richard Foster defined a spiritual discipline as “an intentionally directed action by which we do what we can do in order to receive from God the ability to do what we cannot do by direct effort.” As we show up, faithfully, to receive power from God to do what only he can do in our hearts, we move one step closer to God’s vision of a glorious church in which souls from all “peoples and tribes and languages and nations” will join in worship, and in which every room becomes the “dwelling place of God with man” in which “he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

Grace and Peace to You,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Soul Care in African American Practicesimply click on the title, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

52 thoughts on “My Turn to Be the White Person in the Black Room”

  1. Thank you for this book review and for the reminder that God’s vision is of a church where people of all tribes and tongues come together to worship Him in one accord.What a glorious vision!

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  2. A reminder that we truly are not that different from each other. Because the points noted are points people of all race and tribes would do well to keep in mind. Thanks for the review. Many blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful book. Having lived in Sudan, the locals would brag that Philip in Acts 8 was Sudanese. The queen’s kingdom is in modern-day Sudan and it was great fun to go see the pyramids when living there. So I’m aware of the development of Christianity in Africa and the book must be a great connection then to the American tradition.

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  4. This sounds like a book that I must read. Thank you for the introduction to Barbara Peacock.

    And I can’t think of anyone who could write better instructions on how to write a helpful and engaging book review than you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I saw your link at the Friday Favorites link up. This is another great review. I haven’t heard about this book anywhere else before. Thank you!

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  6. Michele, this is a wonderful post. And you just reminded me that I have been wanting to write a post sharing some of my favorite authors who are people of color. I think I may work on that today. Thanks so much for inspiring and motivating me to take some more positive action.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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  7. I do believe that most black American’s are much more devoted to God and living His way that whites overall, Michele. And I’ve always felt like the adversity and suffering of slavery taught them to rely on God like a crucible refines the metals within. We should not shun our troubles, but rather embrace them in the strength of the Lord! Great review, inspiring woman, and such an important message!

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  8. One Michele to another, thanks very much for this information. It was the words “Spiritual Direction” that caught my eyes and I may indeed purchase this book. I agree that probably many people read about or hear about different people in t he Bible or Christian history and don’t make the connection with their being from countries in Africa. Simon of Cyrene, also! Thanks and blessings, Michele Somerville
    p.s. in your blogging journey, have you noticed how many Micheles there seem to be?

    pps shared to my facebook page

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      1. I like the “1-L” or 2-L” Awhile back a had a colleauge who used 2lls and it was the best differentiation. She was young, and I am not, she was petite and I am not, actually thin and I am seldom ever that! so I liked using the 1L 2L:)

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  9. Michele,
    This line lept off the page at me, “Faith born and nurtured in tribulation and under oppressive conditions becomes a sinewy thing.” I believe the strongest faith is that which has been refined in the crucible. Who, more than our black brothers and sisters, has experienced more tribulation and oppression? We’d do well to open our eyes to read and our ears to listen.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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  10. I was privileged to live in South Africa for 4 years and it was always wonderful to be invited into peoples communities and find out more about their lives
    Thanks for linking with #pocolo and hope to see you back later this week

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  11. What an interesting sounding book! I was the only white person in a black church in south GA for several years, so the title is quite intriguing to me.

    It’s great to see you at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!! Thanks for being here.

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  12. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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