Book Review: Seeking Refuge
[The following bio’s were retrieved from the authors’ Amazon author pages, which can be found here and here.]
Stephan Bauman is the Executive Director of a Foundation serving the least resourced and accessible places of the world. Prior to working in philanthropy, Stephan served as President and CEO of World Relief, an international relief and development organization partnering with the global Church to serve more five million vulnerable people each year. Stephan’s pursuit of justice led him to transition from a successful career in the Fortune 100 sector to Africa where he directed relief and development programs for nearly a decade before returning to the United States to lead World Relief’s global operations. Stephan lives to see people everywhere rise to the call of justice and give their lives in ways that empower the poor towards real change, a journey he continues to pursue. Stephan holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University, Wheaton College and the University of Wisconsin. Stephan considers his African friends his most important teachers, and his wife, Belinda, his most important mentor. Stephan, Belinda, and their two sons, Joshua and Caleb, live near Grand Rapids Michigan where they enjoy the woods, the arts and late night conversations with friends.
Matthew Soerens serves as the US Director of Church Mobilization for World Relief, which is the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. In that role, he helps evangelical churches to understand the realities of refugees and immigration and to respond in ways guided by biblical values. Matthew previously served as a Board of Immigration Appeals-accredited legal counselor at World Relief’s local office in Wheaton, Illinois and, before that, with World Relief’s partner organization in Managua, Nicaragua. He has also served as the Field Director of the Evangelical Immigration Table, an alliance of evangelical organizations advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values. Matthew earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Wheaton College and his Master’s Degree from DePaul University’s School of Public Service. He is the co-author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2009) and of Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis (Moody Publishers, 2016), the book being reviewed here. Originally from Neenah, Wisconsin, Matthew lives in Aurora, Illinois with his wife, Diana, and their two children.
In Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis, authors Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir take their readers to school concerning all things dealing with the global refugee crisis. From the crisis itself and stories coming out of it to the litany of misunderstandings associated with it to some of its root causes and how the church can help, the authors provide a thorough dealing with this important issue.
Beginning in chapter one, the authors introduce the reader to some of the alarming statistics from the crisis, aptly describing it as an unprecedented crisis. The next several chapters effectively and winsomely debunk many of the misnomers associated with the refugee crisis, namely that refugees are people whom we should fear. Furthermore, they properly define the term refugee and discuss many of the ways that the church can (and has) provide(d) practical help to people who desperately need it. Closing out the book, Bauman, Soerens, and Smeir identify the root cause which so often displaces men and women, which, generally stated, can be labeled injustice. Contrary to what our fears may tell us, refugees don’t earn their title by fleeing their homes in order to harm. No, by definition they are forcibly and unjustly displaced, fleeing harm. If you’re looking to learn more about the refugee crisis and cultivate compassion for these men and women, this book would be a great place to begin.
Seeking Refuge: Seeking A New Vocation
“Today, an estimated sixty million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes, a number larger than at any time in recorded history” (15).
Think about that for a moment. Sixty million.
Sixty million people forced from their homes, searching for refuge, for safety, for stability. Can you imagine? One of the more helpful ideas for me coming out of this book is that we should try and imagine. Imagine what it would be like to be forced from your home unjustly. To be scattered to the other side of the country, the continent, the world. How would you hope to be received by others? We would do well to try and put ourselves in the shoes of these men and women being uprooted unjustly, fearing for their lives and the lives of their family members, and re-consider our attitude toward them.
By definition, refugees are men and/or women who enter the United States with full legal status, and who have fled persecution. They do not pose a threat, they are fleeing a threat. They are humans. Fathers. Mothers. Sons. Daughters. People, flesh and blood people, and they should be treated with such dignity.
“The application to the current refugee crisis is clear: by Jesus’ standard, the refugee—whether from Syria, Somalia, or Burma, whether living one mile or ten thousand miles from us, whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or an atheist, and whatever else might distinguish them—is our neighbor. The command of Jesus is to love them. That there may be risk or cost involved is not relevant to the mandate to love.”
There is so much more I could say about this book, but suffice it to say that this is a paradigm-shifting book. So paradigm-shifting, in fact, that if you’re not careful, it might just convince you to change your entire vocation. If nothing else, it will certainly inform you of ways that you can be of service in this crisis. From befriending refugee neighbors to serving in particular ministries to gaining further education and training and, yes, to making a vocation change, there are innumerable ways that the church, both individually and corporately, can be more heavily and meaningfully involved in serving these men and women.
So, I would suggest that you pick up a copy of this book. But be prepared to have your world turned upside down in the best way possible.
[I received this book free of charge from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]