Guest post from Laurie Meberg, a friend whose servant heart is an inspiration for our work at Persona Grata Goods (more about her at the end of the review!)
The revised edition of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang – both with World Relief – is a timely and well-researched tool for equipping the Christian community in the United States to enter the immigration arena with integrity, compassion, and faith. With the current climate surrounding the immigration debate being so polarized and with conflicting information being reported from both sides, it is critical for the Church in America to be well-informed regarding the history, policy, impact, concerns, and most of all the actual people caught in the immigration debate.
With this understanding, the hope is that the Church in America could live out their mandates to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves by leading in the public arena both in caring for and advocating on behalf of immigrant communities.
Soerens and Yang combine their vast wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to speak with authority and compassion into the complex waters of the immigration debate. They support their claims with Scripture, sociological reports, news reports, legislation, and historical accounts. They teach and equip the Church in America to be a leading voice and a force of action welcoming the stranger.
Have you had questions about immigration, immigration reform, refugees, etc? The authors cover a broad scope of the immigration climate in America:
- The history of immigration in America
- The history of the relationship between the church and immigration.
- The current legal immigration processes and how it has developed over time.
- The issues surrounding undocumented immigrants – examining where they come from, how they enter the United States, what they do in the United States, and the economic and personal implications of their undocumented status.
Soerens and Yang address common questions and concerns about immigration. This was personally significant for me because it helped me better understand some of the questions and concerns regarding immigration. I had not given much thought to why some people groups might be more opposed to immigration than others.
Understanding that some people have legitimate questions and concerns increased my compassion and humility as I engage in dialogue with different people regarding immigration.
The authors also walk through the Bible using it as a theological roadmap in defense of immigration and demonstrating this as part of God’s plan for humanity. Furthermore, Soerens and Yang pose that it is to the benefit – and strengthening – of the Church to care for immigrant communities and welcome the stranger into their midst.
I thoroughly recommend this updated edition of Welcoming the Stranger. It is helpful for Christians unsure who to trust in learning about the immigration situation. It provides facts and history to those needing to engage with understanding. It provides a human face for those needing to grow in compassion.
The book provides answers to those who have been immobilized by fear through misinformation or a lack of information. It provides questions and talking points so that church and community leaders can teach their people well.
Finally, it provides resources and examples of those who have engaged with immigrant communities which stimulate a prophetic imagination so that churches can brainstorm, plan, and begin welcoming the stranger with excellence and integrity so that relationships might evolve from stranger to neighbor to friend.
Welcoming the Stranger: Justice Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate, by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang, published by InterVarsity Press, is available where Christian books are sold and is now available where audio books are sold.