In the midst of the Depression, Joshua Clay, a young minister and college student, receives a rare opportunity to become a missionary to the people of South Africa. Joshua is African American, but the South African government has restricted the entry of African Americans to their country because they felt they came only to stir up trouble. Joshua is specially chosen because of his leadership and peacemaking abilities. Maybe this is where God would use that gift.
Joshua is honored by the trust his benefactors place in him, and awed by the natural beauty of Africa, but he feels uncomfortable with the obvious racial segregation he experiences. Joshua soon meets a young Xhosa teacher, Nongolesi, who helps him understand the struggles of her people. When he asks his mission if he can help the Xhosa by publishing a bible in their own language, he is told it is not allowed. Soon he is only allowed to preach mission-approved sermons. Joshua begins to doubt the wisdom of his benefactors as he sees the effects of apartheid and resettlement on the Xhosa people. He begins to question God’s purpose in bringing him to this beautiful but turbulent land.
Well written and carefully researched, this novel is compelling. The injustice of apartheid is seen through the human eyes of Joshua. Readers can easily understand the difference between people of true faith and those trying to use religion to mask injustice. The novel is hopeful in tone, despite the brutal truth it portrays.