Category Archives: refugees

Book signing March 16, Hutchinson, Kansas

On Thursday, March 16, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Bookends Bookstore at 123 N. Main St. in Hutchinson, Kansas, will host a book signing for McPherson author, Jeanne Jacoby Smith. Entitled, “Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom and a Church That Helped Them Find It“, Smith’s book is an actual account of her church’s experiences while resettling refugees of war. In story format, the author leads readers through the process, from meeting the refugees at the airport to their final goodbye when they were reunited with relatives, who were resettled 2,000 miles away.

“Your suggestions are excellent”

“I finished your book and found it very gripping.  I couldn’t put it down after starting.

“This book had the same effect on me as a movie I used in school concerning immigrants from Mexico coming to the US and trying to survive on their own.  Thanks for showing the plight of people trying to adjust to a different culture.

“Your suggestions at the end of the book are excellent for any newcomer to the US.”

David S., Lebanon, Pennsylvania

A Review from India

My feelings traveled as a refugee with Jeanne Jacoby Smith to the airport in Toledo. As I listened to the heart rending story of her church in Ohio, I asked myself, “Is J. J. Smith the author of this book, or is she the voice of the refugees? Can I hear the heart beats of the refugees through her writing? Am I, too, moving with those heart beats? Why am I flying with strong convictions of safe resettlement and emotional re-adjustment?”

Yes, I have some answers. I worked closely with survivors of the Tsunami in Kerala, India.  From December 26, 2004, I lived through their trauma. What J.J. Smith describes is not just a story, but revelations of her experience while working with her church’s refugee family. She offers full support to lift their moods, to instill confidence in their hearts again. She kindles the light of love by erasing fear and ensuring them safe sleep, by quenching their thirst, and satiating their hunger. These tasks required dedication for the church, as it worked hard to fulfill its goal.

I, also, noted the intensity of the church’s work which continued until it reached its destination. Congratulations!

I could visualize the characters, the dialogues, and each scene, well-knitted to the next one, so neat it could make a movie. Reading the book at a stretch, I appreciated the conversational writing style of the author. There is rhythm in her book that moved my eyes quickly from one page to the other until I finished reading. The book made me inquisitive enough to continually wonder about upcoming events. I could not wait for the next day.

After completing the book, I experienced a moment of joy!  Could the Nguyen family visit my hometown in Kerala to meet the resettled Tsunami survivors’ families? This is India’s invitation to the family.

Thank you, J.J., for your wonderful expressions that finally evolved as a book! Thanks, also, to the Ohio church for uplifting the refugees so they could have the courage to face their future with faith. And thanks to the author’s voice for bringing their story to life.

By Sarada S.A., Ph.D.
Kerala, India

Our cups run over…

“Jeanne Smith, I just read the passage in your book about moving your refugee family into their apartment. And then you tell of visiting Dr. Chung. Your story is full of lessons for those of us who sit here happy and content, while most of the world cries out for peace. It’s so rich I can only absorb a few chapters at a time.

Refugees is a siren call for us to climb, call, and confess that too many of us are lost in our finite selfish pursuits. We’ve lost sight of what we’re called to do with our abundant resources. Our cups run over, but we just let the surplus soak into the ground.”

– by Claude S.

Listen

Many refugees of war, once they’ve escaped with their lives, prefer to look to the future rather than dwell on the past. However, their past haunts them, often to the point of terror. The pain is embedded in their DNA.

If we are willing to listen, refugees need to talk. They must share the weight of their burdens. When they have a listening audience, talking is akin to therapy. Whether on the written page or person-to-person, there is healing in the listening.

Perhaps the saddest thing we do, often inadvertently, is to change the topic when they are talking. Suddenly, matters of life and death are treated as incidental. Once again, the refugee is left alone to harbor the burden.

Reasons are multifaceted: Either the listener isn’t interested, or the listener can’t bear to hear their tragedy.

When one survives the horrors of war, i.e., bombings, cross-fire, unjust incarceration, the victims witness evil incarnate. I think of  Dietrich Bonhoeffer,the Lutheran pastor and author of “Letters and Papers from Prison”.  He was put to death by Hitler. He did not live to tell his story, but Bonhoeffer’s voice lives on in his witness, for he spent three years in London working with refugees from Hitler’s Germany. Later, Princeton University created a teaching post to protect him, but his conscience would not allow it. Thus, he returned to Germany, only to be incarcerated by Hitler. (“Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Belonging: A Christian Perspective” by Jacob Phillips. The Pastoral Review, July/August, 2016).

When refugees share their stories of life, death, and escape, LISTEN. It might be one of the most difficult tasks you’ll ever encounter, but there is healing in the listening. Consider yourself blessed that the refugees entrusted their story with you.

As this book goes to press, 60 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons, the greatest number in recorded history, are swarming camps in receiving countries. Though free countries of the world are ‘vetting’ them to assure they’re safe to enter, the greatest tragedy occurs when we ignore their voices.

Today, in 2016, once again, refugees’ cries are echoing around the globe. They, too, need a voice in the modern era.

In the spirit of hope, it is my deepest desire that “Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom …,” will help to bring about ‘Peace on Earth’ and cross-cultural understandings.

. . .  by Jeanne Jacoby Smith, the author

Refugees!

Escape from Viet Nam
Cover of “Refugees!” by Jeanne Jacoby Smith (artwork by Mary Jacoby).

A word from the author: Jeanne Jacoby Smith

At long last after months of typing, editing, and revising my book, “Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom and a Church That Helped Them Find It”, is finally online. Check www.amazon.com to get your copy today.

About the Book

What would you do if soldiers broke into your home and held your family hostage? How would you react if your children were screaming, “Mama, Papa, help me!”? Where would you hide if you wended your way through the forest, only to find hucksters nestled in the bush, ready to rob and kill you?

In March of 2014, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations’ High Commissioner of Refugees, stunned the world with his bold statement: That 60 million people, the greatest number in human history, were fleeing the lands of their birth and crying out for a country to call home. Thus, history echoes the refugees’ stories in every generation.

The 21st century is no exception.

In this spirit, ‘Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom and a Church That Helped Them Find It’ recounts the story of ‘Every Refugee’ down through the ages. Cases, in point:

  • Moses leading the children of Israel across the Red Sea to the Promised Land.
  • Mary and Joseph fleeing with Jesus to escape King Herod’s henchmen.
  • When Hitler’s thunder reigned down upon Europe, refugees by the millions fled to receiving countries.

“Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom. . .” is a day-by-day account of our church’s experience resettling refugees in America. From meeting the family at the airport to setting up an apartment, from teaching them English to finding the head of the household a job, this book recounts one church’s story of successfully orchestrating a resettlement in America.

In the months that followed, as our refugees became fluent in English, we learned their story of escape. It burst our schema beyond imagination. Afloat on the South China Sea for many days, they were salvaged by the United Nations.

By the time their resettlement drew to a close, not only their lives were restored, but our church was transformed, as well. The refugees’ presence among us opened our members’ hearts to the plight of ‘the other’. When they met us at the airport, we were strangers who babbled a language they couldn’t comprehend. By the time our sponsorship drew to a close, they were one with our church family.

As this book goes to press in 2016, the numbers of forcibly displaced persons worldwide has soared to 60 million. Half of these are children. The need for sponsors today is greater than at any time in recorded history.

It is my deepest desire that our church’s story will inspire your house of worship to open its doors to ‘the least of these’, the refugees, who are crying out for a country.

— Jeanne Jacoby Smith