A Better Country Book Review
“Like refugees, all we who are in Christ are considered sojourners, aliens, and pilgrims on earth (1 Chr 29:15; 1 Pet 1:17). Like the giants of the faith listed in Hebrews 11, we acknowledge that we are strangers and exiles. Yet as strangers and exiles we are not aimless, nor are we hopeless. Rather, we desire a better country, a heavenly one (Heb 11:16). [...] We can relate with refugees because we, too, have no permanent home in this life. That is what we have in common - we are all looking for a better country” (A Better Country, pg. 23).
A Better Country, by Cindy M. Wu, was published by William Carey Library in June 2017. At just over 50 pages, it is a concise study of refugees and what the Bible teaches about the displaced. This book fills a gap in Christian literature that trains believers how to think about the refugee crisis in specifically biblical terms. The book is meant to be used as a tool for personal Bible study or a small group study with your church. Reflection questions and discussion prompts are sprinkled throughout each chapter, which makes the learning interactive.
Chapters one and two explain the international refugee protection regime, the legal definitions of terms like ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker,’ as well as the history of forced migration. This background is an important part of this study, since I find that many believers are uninformed about the legal process someone must go through to be considered a refugee. Chapter three focuses on how the Bible uses the terms ‘stranger,’ ‘alien,’ and ‘sojourner.’ This is my favorite chapter, because it highlights the fact that the Bible calls Christians strangers on the earth. We need to understand our own alien identity before we will be motivated to welcome refugees, and this chapter helps believers do exactly that.
Chapter four covers the practical difficulties faced by refugees and challenges the reader to put him or herself into their shoes and imagine what it would be like to leave your home and country. Chapter five outlines the United States’ rich history of welcome and immigration, and finally, chapter six looks at the biblical concept of hospitality and how it relates to welcoming refugees.
If you or members of your church are curious about what the Bible says about refugees, this study is for you. It is short and sweet, which means it shouldn’t be intimidating to individuals who perhaps have some reservations about refugees. But it is also packed with accurate and valuable information, both about how the international refugee protection regime works, and about the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger. The appendices of the book also include practical resources, including books and documentaries about refugees, ideas to get involved, and lists of organizations that serve refugees in the U.S.
You can purchase A Better Country on Amazon, and proceeds from sales of the book will be split between World Relief and Covenant World Relief. Also be sure to give Cindy some love on Twitter and thank her for this wonderful resource!