How Befriending a Refugee Changed Me

Once We Were Strangers
What Friendship with a Syrian Refugee Taught Me About Loving My Neighbor (Baker, 2018)

WHO: Shawn Smucker, an author who lives in Pennsylvania.

HE SAYS: “I felt like I should have a disclaimer on the cover: ‘No one was harmed in the creation of this book.’ But something was harmed. Something happened. My belief that refugees have little to offer was crushed.”

THE BIG IDEA: Two men—an American and a Syrian refugee—strike up an unusual friendship that reflects what happens when we reflect Jesus’ love and hospitality.

The first part, “The Friend,” shares the author and his friend’s stories and how they came to meet. Part 2, “The Foreigner,” shows how their friendship deepened. Part 3, “The Neighbor,” shows how this friendship isn’t a one-sided relationship—it is a true and caring friendship.

“Friendship is such a strange, unexpected thing. It can creep up on you when you least expect it, from the least likely places. I never could have imagined I’d become friends with a Syrian man from 6,000 miles away.”

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Shawn Smucker
Shawn Smucker

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.