Books, Social & Political Issues

BOOK REVIEW: Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate

The short story:

1. This is the clearest, most concise, and irenic book on a political issue that I have ever read. (And I don’t say that about many books, feel free to peruse my other reviews).

2. All Christians should read this book. This is an issue about which we cannot remain ignorant and silent. In fact, read it and buy an extra copy for your pastor.

The long(er) story:

I still can’t quite grasp what made a book about immigration so riveting and spiritual, and yet those are the two words I feel most accurately describe this book. While it’s not a page turner a-la-John-Grisham, I found myself chewing on ideas the authors had expressed and longing to know more. Combining the basic Biblical value of care for one another with the need for Christian involvement in immigration support and reform, Matt Soerens and Jenny Hwang lay out a clear, well-documented, and compelling examination of the state of immigration in America.

While keeping the value of the individual at the forefront, they examine the complex dynamics of undocumented workers, the history of immigration in the US, and legal components of our modern day immigration policy. While addressing concerns regarding immigration, they also present the positive effects that immigration has on a society. Finally, they close the book with a call to the church to embrace the ‘stranger among us’. Spiritually, I appreciated most their commitment to integrate justice, compassion, and truth by presenting both individual stories and national responsibilities. Their ultimate perspective seems well summarized through what Intervarsity pastor Bill Nelson says, “Whenever there is opportunity for the church to reach out to people in our communities, we must consider what it will take to further the kingdom. If it means putting down the American flag and raising the kingdom flag, that is what we should do.”

I’ve tried reading other books on immigration, but none of them have been so clear in connecting all the dots between history, policy, and Biblical mandates. Thank you, Matthew & Jenny. You’ve given us all a great gift. I’ll be passing my copy along to as many people as possible!


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