I’m not sure how to describe Hope in the Dark. It is a book of pictures by Jeremy Cowart with some textual observations by Jena Lee. What about? Life in Africa. Visual, real, and not staged. You will not find here pictures of children with swollen bellies, but instead you will encounter the ordinary realities of life. I recommend your purchasing this book and putting it out on your living room table or your office table — somewhere where others can bump into it and wander through its pages.
The book is not designed to make you feel guilty, but to see Africa. Lots of children — happy faces, curious faces, sad faces. Lots of moms. Graphic images of earth’s great colors. Tin shacks. A mother with AIDS hoping her kids die before she does because as long as she is alive, someone will care for them. It ends with ways to help.
One picture is of a wall with “piny pek” written on it. It means “heavy world.” Jena asks “Why God?” God tells her, “Broken world, Daughter. Sin is real. Know and repent of your own, and then seek justice and love for my children. Do not lost hope, my child. Be an agent of mercy.”
On one page Jena reflects on her own choices … “blue shirt or pink cardigan? Tall soy chai latte or Grande caramel macchiato?…” Then she reflect on the choices of a elderly grizzled woman: “”Blue dress or blue dress? River water or puddle water? Sleep with fisherman who will give food in return or let orphaned grandchildren go to bed hungry? Curse God or praise Him?”
On another: “There’s something incredible about African skies. It’s as if God said, ‘I have so much beauty to give to My world. And I’m going to shower it on this place, because I can’.”
I’m impressed by Rick Warren’s wish that on his tombstone be written four words: “At least he tried.”