Dorena Williamson is a speaker, church planter, and bridge builder whose work has been featured in Christianity Today and Crosswalk. She is a bestselling author of children’s books that adults need too. She and her husband, Chris, have four children and make their home in Franklin, Tennessee.
Dorena shares some of her thoughts with us regarding her latest book, Brown Baby Jesus.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
Years ago during a visit to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, I saw portrayals of Jesus from different countries around the world. Each ethnic group cast Him as one of them, which warmed my heart. As a “Christmas baby,” I’ve always been extra reflective about the birth of Christ. As I grew to appreciate how God included people from different cultures and backgrounds in the genealogy of Christ, I wanted to develop a story that was unique from other holiday books.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
The main characters are Brown Baby Jesus (as a toddler), Mary, and Joseph. Secondary characters include the other four women named in Jesus’ genealogy.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Mary—as I read over her song of praise in Luke 1, I reflected on how she was a young woman with great knowledge of the Old Testament and deep awe of God’s work. I decided to include her as such in this story, and use that knowledge as the basis for her sharing Jesus’ family story with Him.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Story draws people into the human experience. Jesus communicated effectively with parables and I believe relatable stories can both move people and lead them to truth.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I would love this book to lead readers back to the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke for a fresh look at how Jesus’ story started here on earth. I hope the image of a brown-skinned Jesus leads to robust reflection on why images of a white Jesus have pervaded our Western reflections. And I hope hearts are lifted as they consider that Jesus’ story included diverse people because He came for ALL people.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
Unpacking complex subjects in an age-appropriate way is always a challenge. Specifically to this book, you have to consider that Jesus’ story is so remarkable because He had unusual characters and plots. Rahab, Tamar, David, and Bathsheba all had complicated and controversial aspects to their life- yet God intentionally included them with their brokenness and sorrow. That is so beautiful to me. I hope children and adults enter into the joy and pain of Jesus’ human experience through this story.
Brown Baby Jesus
A Picture Book
Genres: Children’s, Christmas
Release Date: September 20, 2022
Celebrate Christmas with this unique retelling of the Nativity story featuring Jesus as a melanated baby in a story that’s rich with Scripture, historical accuracy, and a multicultural weaving of love—from the author of Crowned with Glory.
Like Moses, brown baby Jesus would be a deliverer. Like Rahab, brown baby Jesus would save His people from destruction. Like David, brown baby Jesus would rule as a great king. Like the colorful threads that make up a beautiful cloth, Brown Baby Jesus brings together the characters and stories leading to Jesus—showing how God included many races and nations in the story we celebrate each year.
With an unconventional Christmas setting of Egypt and written in sweet, lyrical prose, Brown Baby Jesus is sure to become a holiday classic embraced by families of all races and backgrounds.
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