Once We Were Strangers: What Friendship with a Syrian Refugee Taught Me about Loving My Neighbor

Once We Were Strangers: What Friendship with a Syrian Refugee Taught Me about Loving My Neighbor

by Shawn Smucker


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780800734763
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 401,893
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Shawn Smucker is the author of the novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There. He lives with his wife and six children in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at www.shawnsmucker.com.

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Friend

1 Two Grains of Sand 15

2 Help 17

3 The Question 21

4 Babel 27

5 If We Are Lucky 34

6 You Are Friends Now 37

7 The Long Walk 40

8 Finding Mohammad 44

9 Finding Hope 52

10 Za'atari 63

11 Do You Remember? 67

Part 2 The Foreigner

12 Neighbors 71

13 Falling All Around Us 80

14 Learning 83

15 The Unexpected Guest (or, My First Ramadan Meal) 91

16 Deeper into Jordan 99

17 A Place He Will Not See Again 107

18 Passing Each Other By 116

19 Income Requirements 120

20 Smiling through It All 127

Part 3 The Neighbor

21 Let's Be Neighbors 137

22 Bring Me Your Tired 148

23 The Good City 159

24 Through Trees and Shadows 171

25 Once We Were Strangers 176

26 When Are You Coming Back? 178

Postscript 185

Discussion Questions 189

Acknowledgments 193

Notes 195

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