A Wake-Call for the Church Amid A Crisis (Book Review)

Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Issam Smeir. Seeking Refuge on the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL. 2016. 224 pages.

My heart breaks. As I observe the cultural conversations of the day, I’ve noticed we often speak past one another instead of choosing to speak with and to one another. While this is true of our culture in general, the sad reality is many evangelicals have taken a stand and refused to listen with open ears and open hearts on an issue such as the refugee crisis. All you have to do is to take a look at the news headlines and see the controversy over immigration and refugee resettlement. On these topics, Christians are tempted to be driven more by politics than the power of the gospel. Believers can fall into the trap of responding with fear rather than by faith. Yet, not all hope is lost. There are some evangelicals who recognize the complexity to this controversial matter but know their calling of sharing and showing the love of Christ. There are churches who come alongside to show the truth of the gospel they share with those who need it. It is this hope Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir extend in their book Seeking Refuge on the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis.

In this well-researched and engaging book, the authors tackle the complex and controversial topic of the refugee crisis. They do not speak in the abstract either. Two of the authors, Stephan Bauman and Matthew Soerens, are leaders of World Relief, an international relief organization partnering with the global church to serve more than five million vulnerable people each year, refugees numbered among them. Dr. Issam Smeir serves as a counselor for refugees who need specialized care and trauma treatment. As men who care for the vulnerable in the world, they speak from the truth of the Word. Seeking Refuge does not seek did manipulate evangelical’s emotions as politicians may. Seeking Refuge sets out to evoke the church to recognize the biblical conviction that gives way to Christlike compassion through caring for the vulnerable, including refugees, and connecting the church to organizations like World Relief.

In a time where news sound bites stir Christians up with fear, this book takes the time to share sound truth from the Bible (chapters 1-2) to stir evangelical’s hearts with love for God and love for their neighbor. Bauman, Soerens, and Smeir shine a light on Scripture, revealing the response of the church is not to find comfort from refugees but to find ways to care for refugees. This involves getting to know refugee’s stories (chapter 3), dealing with our own concerns (chapter 4), loving refugees and other displaced people (chapters 5-6), and seeing practical opportunities for the church to respond in this cultural moment (chapter 7). This book also takes a step back to consider the broader topics of how to help without hurting (chapter 8), how to respond to the larger issues that compel refugees to flee (chapter 9), and how to view the matter of public policy (chapter 10). Simply put, the call of the book is for the church to be “a shining city on a hill” (chapter 11).

Seeking Refuge on the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis is a timely wake-up call for the church in America. Refuge is not about finding our own comfort but in finding hope in the only true refuge, God Himself. As the authors emphasize throughout the book, the church must play a central role in caring for refugees in this time of crisis. In a day and age where we are more prone to fight over politics, we need to fight the good fight of faith by welcoming and caring for refugees. The church is not supposed to follow the lead of politics; the church is supposed to lead with the power of the gospel. For the evangelical who desires to display the power of the gospel instead of politicizing the issues of our day like the refugee crisis, I commend to you, Seeking Refuge on the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir. Be a part of the solution as the church shares the message of salvation in Christ and shows the love of Christ.

I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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