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Seeking Refuge: A Book Review

Learning about Refugee and Forced Migration through a class at Wheaton’s Humanitarian and Disaster Institute (Humanitarian and Disaster Institute at Wheaton College) opened my eyes in wonderful and painful ways to the plight of those who are forced from their homes and communities as a result of disaster, famine, armed conflict or persecution. Learning about God’s view of immigrants and refugees was the most satisfying part of this class. In the class, we were given excellent teaching by many experts in the field, but one of the most important books we read was the book Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens and Dr. Issam Smeir (Seeking Refuge, Amazon).

The authors have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the area of the current global refugee crisis. Stephan Bauman is “the president of World Relief which is an international relief and development organization partnering with the global church to serve more than five million vulnerable people each year”. Matthew Soerens is the “US director of church mobilization for World Relief” and Dr. Issam Smeir is “a licensed clinical professional counselor who specializes in trauma treatment for refugees, victims of torture, and severely abused and neglected children” (1). I had the privilege to have Matthew Soerens for professor in this class, so we were able to soak in the immensity of this topic from a great resource.

Seeking Refuge serves many purposes, such as inspiring the reader to act on behalf of the most vulnerable in our midst, but it also includes very useful data about the current global crisis as well as a chapter that addresses the fears and concerns citizens may have about refugee resettlement. The chapter very clearly explains the path to refugee resettlement with its complexities, lengthiness and thoroughness by authorities.

Included in this chapter entitled

“No Fear in Love” is a very helpful chart that explains the US Refugee Screening Process (see illustration below). I found this chart useful for communicating the reality of refugee resettlement to those who have questions or concerns.

Dr. Smeir has added a deep discussion of the trauma that refugees undergo in their plight to safety. He also discusses the challenges to refugee resettlement that includes, in many cases, trauma memories. This valuable psychological discussion is helpful for understanding how best to help the displaced without causing them further harm.

The most satisfying aspect of the book, in my opinion, was the authors’ intent of integrating God’s view of the refugee with current realities. With quotes like, “What will rule our hearts: Fear or Compassion?” to the chapter that recognizes that “Jesus was a Refugee”, the message of this book is clear: God cares about the vulnerable and the refugee.

The authors have achieved a major goal of applying the “history, public policy, psychology, many personal stories, and their own unique Christian worldview”(1) to this very important topic for today. I highly recommend this book to those who want to learn more about refugee concerns, data, and ways to help from a Christian perspective. It could also be a great addition to a pastor’s library or a resource for a mission team leader. Overall, an excellent resource!

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