Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Once We Were Strangers (Book Review)


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Defeated. Humbled. I sit here tonight having finished this book from Shawn Smucker and I can't help but feel a sense of regret. One of the last books I reviewed, not fully recently, was a book of his, The Edge of Over There. At this point I feel not only as though I gave him injustice, but as Shawn says in this latest book (but in my view based on past experience), I was "unfair" (Once We Were Strangers, pgs. 165-166).
          Let it be a lesson when you review books as a disciple of Jesus Christ. He will rebuke and chasten in love. Within the pages of this book, it chronicles the lives of two men: Mohammed, a Syrian refugee, his wife, Moradi, and their four boys, as well as Shawn's life meeting him through a friend of his from Church World Service, later CWS within the pages of the book.

          As I look back over my reading of the book, coupled with the fact Shawn also uses Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, and my overall review of this book--God ordained events within Syria for a Christian man to see what God is getting at in His word toward us. Are we friends to those who need help? Or rather are they friends to us, considering we have basic to very little understanding of them?

          I not only felt convicted for how I treated Shawn's previous book I reviewed, Edge. I also feel a disservice because I'm saying something hard here: this is a wonderfully, well-thought out book. He writes as though he's a journalist digging out the truth of the Syrian war that has displaced this Sunni family into the Pennsylvania countryside of Lancaster.

          So, in short, and to wrap this up, forgive me for how I handled a previous book. I found it a hard read, and just should have said that. Shawn is able and a very competent, lovely writer. I pray this book makes it into a lot of hands that bless and encourage us all to be a "friend" to someone else who truly needs the help. And sometimes, you may end up realizing that other person is the Samaritan, you're the one who needed their help.

          I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell for a fair and unbiased review of it.