Summary

Excerpts Below, ©2003 Warner Books, All Rights Reserved

Eloquent, haunting, and utterly inspiring are just a few of the words that describe JOSHUA’S BIBLE, author Shelly Leanne’s novel of a man’s search for himself, his spirituality, and his destiny….

JOSHUA’S BIBLE is set during the 1930’s Depression era and is the story of a young black minister who travels to South Africa as a missionary and is profoundly changed by the experience.

While JOSHUA’S BIBLE is a work of fiction, Shelly Leanne maintains that the rich history of the African American missionaries who served in Africa in the 1800s and 1900s inspired her novel. A stickler for detail, she traveled to South Africa on several occasions and conducted exhaustive research. She interviewed scores of people, including South African political leaders, scholars, and writers, and their stories about the beauty of South Africa, its culture, and the fight for a colorblind society deeply moved her. Click here to read about the South African leaders who inspired Shelly Leanne.

In JOSHUA’S BIBLE, Reverend Joshua Clay is an enthusiastic and idealistic young man who dreams of helping to build a world in which everyone can enjoy equality, respect, and dignity–regardless of race. When he’s chosen to travel to South Africa as a missionary during a time when black preachers are banned and branded as troublemakers, he finds himself embarking on an incredible journey that changes his life forever. Joshua considers his assignment a great honor, but he faces many challenges in difficult circumstances. He must not only find a way to connect with a culture that is very different from his own, he must also find a balance between his American mission’s goals, his own personal views, and the cultural ways of those to whom he is sent to minister.

Joshua is unprepared for South Africa in the 1930s. It is a country rife with tension stemming from political repression and the types of social injustices not even the racism of America has prepared him for. It is in this natural chaos that the American mission sets a spiritual goal–to teach black Africans the “civilized” way to worship God. But as Joshua becomes immersed in the beauty of South Africa and the rich cultural heritage of its people, he becomes certain in his belief that his mission is hindering his efforts to bring worshipers to God and he comes to believe that his mission could be seen as supporting the segregation practices of the South African government. Joshua preaches the basics about Christian principles, the need to forgive, to turn the other cheek, and the patience to wait for change. But because of the circumstances his congregation faces–stripped of all political rights, of their land, of their wealth–he is unable to reach the very people he’s instructed to teach.

As Joshua opens his heart and mind to the Africans and their way of life he begins to change from a young minister sent by his missionary group to preach a message from a distant organization that doesn’t care about the people, to a powerful man of God who truly touches the spirits of the people he has been sent to serve.

And in the beauty of the South African landscape and its people, he finds himself, his future and once-in-a-lifetime love with a beautiful South African woman.

With JOSHUA’S BIBLE, Shelly Leanne has woven a detailed and passionate tapestry that is not only a compelling adventure novel but also a novel that gives unique insight into an ancient culture that still influences modern South Africa.

Click here to learn more about South Africa, about Xhosa culture, about the history of African Americans in Africa, about Fort Hare University, and about challenges facing contemporary South Africa such as the AIDS in Africa crisis.

Click here to learn more about the history that frames the backdrop of this novel, and about literary influences on the author.