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No Longer Strangers: Transforming Evangelism with Immigrant Communities

Edited by Eugene Cho and Samira Izadi Page
Wm. B. Eerdmans, 207 pages

The collaborators of No Longer Strangers proclaim a transformed model of evangelism with our immigrant neighbors, which – to riff on Paul – may become a stumbling block to those who are more conservative and foolishness to those who are more liberal. To the more conservative, evangelism is easily accepted as a duty, but no thought is usually given to our position of power or privilege. We will share the gospel, but do not ask us to advocate for legal rights for those who are deemed “illegal.” To the more liberal, we may be troubled by the word “evangelism,” having seen or experienced abuse of power in the name of sharing “good news.” We will vote and advocate for the marginalized, but we will not evangelize. Can the church move past these obstacles and find a new way to share truly good news?

Editors Eugene Cho and Samira Page have brought together a set of voices that more or less succeed in reframing evangelism. Our world continues to experience huge waves of migration: Afghan refugees, victims of gang violence in Latin America, escapees from civil wars and others flee their homelands. They have moved into our cities and are now our neighbors. We will share some news with them, certainly, but can we do the work to make sure that news is fully good? Various contributors share their expertise, their own journeys and their own failings toward a better way to share good news that is as holistic as it is aware of the pitfalls of power and privilege.

How might a megachurch with deep pockets serve an impoverished neighborhood? There is a chapter exploring a complex relationship between church and neighborhood that moves toward mutuality. The proud church is humbled in the process, but that creates space for neighbors to be raised up and empowered to define their own needs and vision for their future. Or what does good news look like to those who arrive on our shores deeply traumatized? There is another chapter gently expressing healing good news while also warning against how we might easily heap harm upon harm.

Between each contributors’ chapter is a story shared by individuals who have experienced this type of transformed evangelism, this truly “good news.” These provide focus and demonstrate that the goal of transforming evangelism is to reach real people, desperate for good news.

As with any book written by a variety of contributors, the result is uneven. Some chapters held my attention throughout while others were too long or theoretical. Shortcomings aside, I believe there should be something here for everyone with ears to hear (if we do not stumble over the word “immigrant” or consider evangelism a four-letter word, that is). Church leaders able to jump these hurdles might explore deeper connections for truer service with their surrounding immigrant communities and would do well to work through a few chapters of the book most relevant to their context. Perhaps through this important work we can proclaim the good news — a crucified Christ, the power and wisdom of God.

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