Book Review: ‘Serving God in a Migrant Crisis’

by Keegan D’Alfonso

It has become a regular occurrence, background noise really. You turn on the news or open the paper and see another story about refugees. You would like to help them, but what can you do? Your church supports aid organizations to refugees and you tithe regularly. Isn’t that enough? The truth is that the migrant problem seems to be an “over there” problem and a part of you would like to keep it that way.

In early 2016, Global Mapping International, an organization that uses research and technology to help direct Christian missions, released a book called “Serving God in the Migrant Crisis” by Patrick Johnstone with Dean Merrill. The goal of the book is to help Christians learn how to respond to the growing influx of refugees in a biblical way.

Many Christians struggle with how to handle the refugee crisis in our world today. So many misconceptions exist that it is hard to make an informed opinion. At the heart of the problem lies fear. We are afraid of the loss of comfort, facing something we don’t understand and the threat of violence by a small portion of those we deign to help.

However, the Holy Spirit does not give us a spirit of fear, as we are told in 2 Timothy 1:7. In Mark 12:31, we are reminded to love our neighbors as ourselves. With the heart of these scriptures in mind “Serving God in the Migrant Crisis” guides the reader in how to biblically approach the current situation.

The book provides a concise and well-informed viewpoint on the migrant crisis that is designed to allow someone who has no knowledge of the issue to easily learn. It questions how well you truly understand the reasons and the motivations that have led to the displacement of over 60 million people.

The numbers themselves are not enough, however. Facts and figures without a solution breeds sympathy but not action, which is why “Serving God in a Migrant Crisis” is divided into three parts that clearly explain how readers at any level of their church body can get involved and help.

Johnstone challenges Christians to consider how they feel about the migrant crisis and why they feel the way they do. While not everyone is called to minister to the refugee, our attitudes toward the issue are still important.

While Johnstone explains many of his points in detail, the simple message that reverberates through his book is the principal of showing hospitality to the stranger.

Although the book offers several facts and figures to highlight the author’s points, they are also broken up with personal stories that make it easy to put the figures in perspective.

Johnstone is also careful to support his points on proper Christian responses with scripture references. He approaches scripture holistically and often pulls from both the Old and New Testaments.

However, “Serving God in the Migrant Crisis” does not only focus on the results on what a positive Christian response can have; it also reveals the damage an unbiblical response can have in our ability to minister to refugees.

Christians have a unique opportunity to serve God in a migrant crisis. Johnstone’s book “Serving God in a Migrant Crisis” teaches Christians how to capitalize on that unique opportunity and fulfill the Great Commission.

The book can be purchased at in a variety of electronic formats or ordered through Print on Demand for a hard copy.

Keegan D’Alfonso is a sophomore journalism major and the off-campus news editor for Cedars. He was a sergeant in the Marines and enjoys learning about and experiencing other cultures.

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