On the “sponsored” section of my Facebook wall, an Amazon advert for a “stunning book for those who love Africa, travel or prayer. “… ‘Like Breath & Water’ inspires with stories of tears and hopes across Africa.”

I had to click and learn how Africa, travel and prayer could come together–with tears and hopes.

In the product description:

If you want to learn how to pray, go to Africa. Prayer thrives in the squatters corner, in the orphanage filled with malaria-stricken infants, around murky disease-infested ponds–the only water source for entire villages. How can we in the privileged developed countries become less dependent on such a divine gift as a regular dialogue with our creator?

The author, Ciona Rouse, is African–American. So this is not the same old Euro-story about “I found salvation in Africa”. But like who journey “back,” she undoubtedly found a complex story of self-acceptance and rejection of the motherland’s Other. And like many stories connecting Africa, poverty, and God, “Like Breath and Water will make you fall more deeply in love with prayer.”

Rouse, too, found poverty of others alluring. Privilege can do that to you.

More fun from the product description, in case the above stuff wasn’t enough:

How can we teach our hearts the hope-filled prayer Rouse found in Africa that keeps track of miracles instead of pains? That considers prayer as essential to life as breath and water? Follow Rouse on her pilgrimage of discovery as she journeys through several African countries, recording the prayers and realities of the people. She and her companions met “”people with swollen hearts, not just swollen bellies; … people caring for their communities, not holding out hands for help.”” As one reviewer says, “”This story is not only a challenge of our conceptions and apathy but a testament to the unbounded power of prayer.””

Neelika Jayawardane

Further Reading