Mwangi: A Young African Boy’s Journey of Faith by Renee Ritsi and illustrated by Cameron Thorp (published by Conciliar Press in 2004), is the endearing tale of an African boy whose gentle heart is open to receive the good news of Jesus Christ when an Orthodox priest visits his home. The description of the Mwangi’s daily life and his gratefulness for God’s provisions in the midst of what so many of us would call abject poverty may seem idealized to some, but it brought tears to my eyes because he reminded me of my sons who we adopted from Ukraine, and how they and children like them are so often grateful for the small things. Mwangi is a beautiful fictional child, yet a very real type of child.
The loving way the Orthodox priest related to Mwangi’s family and community was inspiring, and provides a lovely contrast to the horrific events in so many places today. What could happen if each of us could be just that little bit more open about lovingly sharing our faith, live with more simplicity, and intentionally become more giving? If we could remember to be more open hearted and trusting, like Mwangi, the world would be sweeter.
This book has lovely detailed illustrations which complement the tenderness of the story. It’s simple enough to read aloud to young children, but could be used to spark great conversations with older children or even adults.