03 November 2018

An Uplifting Read of Friendship | Once We Were Strangers: What Friendship With a Syrian Refugee Taught Me About Loving My Neighbor by Shawn Smucker


In 2012, Mohammad fled his Syrian village along with his wife and four sons, escaping to Jordan through the wilderness. Four years later he sat across from Shawn Smucker in a small conference room in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Though neither of them knew it, Mohammad had arrived in Shawn's life just in time.

This is the story of a friendship. It is the story of a middle-aged writer struggling to make a living and a Syrian refugee struggling to create a life for his family in a strange and sometimes hostile land. It's the story of two fathers hoping for the best, two hearts seeking compassion, two lives changed forever. It's the story of our moment in history and the opportunities it gives us to show love and hospitality to the sojourner in our midst.

Anyone who has felt torn between the desire for security and the desire to offer sanctuary to those fleeing war and violence will find Shawn Smucker a careful and loving guide on the road to mercy and unity.

Publisher: Revell
Release Date: October 16, 2018


A departure from the other books I’ve read by Shawn Smucker, Once We Were Strangers: What Friendship With a Syrian Refugee Taught Me About Loving My Neighbor offers an uplifting read about friendship that lingers long after the reading of the final page.

Mohammed and his family fled their home in Syria to later arrive in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As Smucker shares his journey in befriending and learning from Mohammed, he shares also flashbacks to Mohammed’s journey to the U.S., and the combined story proves poignant and timely with its graceful commentary on loving neighbors.

I very much enjoyed reading Once We Were Strangers. Smucker’s beautiful storytelling works well in a nonfiction context (in addition to fiction) and left me plenty of food for thought.

Thanks to Revell Reads, I received a complimentary copy of Once We Were Strangers and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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