Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Seeking Refuge

Just finished a wonderful book called Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. Published in 2016, it won an Award of Merit from Christianity Today in 2017. The work combines careful research, lots of statistics, and personal accounts.

Bill and Lynn Hybels wrote a compelling forward about their experiences oversees and work with churches in this country.  The three co-authors each provide unique perspectives on the plight of people fleeing violence and justice around the world. Stephan Bauman leads global operations for World Relief, a faith-based organization helping refugees, and he speaks of work internationally and in U.S. churches. Matthew Soerens works with local churches and explains immigration law. Dr. Issam Smeir, the son of a refugee, counsels traumatized refugees.

The book builds on a Biblical basis, citing the period when Joseph had to flee with his family to protect Jesus from Herod and detailing commands from the Old and New Testaments that require compassion and justice for foreigners and the outcast. It carefully delineates the process for someone to become officially recognized as a refugee by the international community and to be granted refugee status after clearing security and health checks for entry into the United States. The authors detail the process for settlement in the United States and the role that local churches may play in facilitating a successful adaptation.

The authors address concerns such as hesitation and fears in dealing with those of different cultures, as well as the challenges that face refugees, often coming to their new home with significant trauma after years of conflict. They point out that many refugees are displaced within their own countries or in a bordering country, often living years in a refugee or detention camp. A tiny percentage actually resettle in a third country, such as the U.S.

Seeking Refuge addresses root causes for crisis migration, delving into profound, complex and often international causes of violence and injustice. It ends with a plea for Christians to care for strangers, offering prayer, hospitality, mercy and justice.

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