Last month at our Portraits of Hope event, we had the joy of celebrating the release of True Africa, a coffee table book comprised exclusively of David Sacks’ Portraits of Hope photography. I had the privilege of writing the Foreword for the book, in which I tried to express my appreciation for both the photographer and his subject matter. Here is an excerpt:
When I began traveling to Africa in 2002, I sensed a dissonance in my soul that I couldn’t shake. I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on it at first, but over time I came to realize what it was. In my life up till then, the images I had seen, and the news stories I had heard, had conditioned me to view this continent and its people almost exclusively through the lens of calamity. Famine, starvation, disease, poverty, war; these were the themes I had patched together to form my view of Africa.
But when my feet actually hit the ground there, my experience clashed radically with my preconceptions. Encounters with a wide variety of African people left me unable to ignore the pervasive poverty with which they coexist, yet far more conscious of their beauty, their dignity, their generous hospitality, and their joy in the midst of profound hardship. Extreme poverty is an assault on human dignity, but at the end of the day the former is no match for the latter. Dignity can be obscured, beaten down, and dressed in tatters, but its essence remains. If you are perceptive, you will see it.
David Sacks is more than perceptive. He is a master at drawing this beauty, dignity, and joy out of his subjects. He mines for this treasure relentlessly as he works, and he usually finds it because he knows it is there. With conviction and genuine love, he refuses to believe his subjects are defined by the outer shell of their adversity. As a result, his lens delivers a priceless gift to us. I am proud to have played a small role in the publishing of these images, because I believe they honor their subject matter and render a worthy depiction of the True Africa I have come to know and love.
You can purchase your own copy of this beautiful book at CovenantMercies.org/TrueAfrica. It may be the most expensive book you ever buy (it was for me!), but I trust it will also be among the most rewarding; not only for the beauty of its pages but also for the knowledge that lives are being changed through the funds it helps us to raise.