You Welcomed Me
"Wait, Dad. Are we for them or against them?"
Kent Annan was talking with his eight-year-old son about the immigrant and refugee crises around the world. His son's question, innocent enough in the moment, is writ large across our society today. How we answer it, Annan says, will reveal a lot about what kind of family, community, or country we want to be.
In You Welcomed Me, Annan explores how fear and misunderstanding often motivate our responses to people in need, and invites us instead into stories of welcome—stories that lead us to see the current refugee and immigrant crisis in a new light. He lays out simple practices for a way forward: confessing what separates us, listening well, and partnering with, not patronizing, those in need. His stories draw us in, and his practices send us out prepared to cross social and cultural divides.
In this wise, practical book, Annan invites us to answer his son's question with confident conviction: "We're for them"—and to explore with him the life-giving implications of that answer.
"You Welcomed Me invites us into the amazing opportunity to welcome refugees and immigrants. We get to love others because God first loved us. We get to welcome Christ into our lives because 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me.' We get to witness for Jesus when we're known for loving our vulnerable neighbors. This book inspires, addresses concerns, and gives wise, practical advice for you and your church. Fear and politics can distract us, but You Welcomed Me is a compassionate call to make much of love and make much of Jesus in our lives."
"Fear is the enemy of love. When fear rather than love is the driving force behind our life choices and public policies, we end up contributing to the suffering of the world rather than alleviating it. Kent's new book You Welcomed Me stands firmly on the biblical promise that perfect love casts out fear. He reminds us that when we welcome the stranger we welcome Christ . . . and when we do not welcome the stranger, we do not welcome Christ. Quite simply, this is an invitation to love like Jesus loves—with arms wide open—and to be as hospitable to others as God has been to us."
"Kent Annan is a gifted storyteller. You Welcomed Me vividly conveys the stories of refugees and other immigrants throughout the world, challenging preconceptions and inviting readers to consider how the lives of displaced people might intersect with our own stories and, ultimately, with God's story. A compelling, inspiring look at one of the most pressing issues of our day."
"You Welcomed Me is a must-read challenge to greater involvement and action on behalf of refugees coming to our country. Kent Annan surrounds us with stories, information, and highly accessible action plans, but this book stands alone. Unlike any other book on the subject, Kent provokes us to look inward—to examine our own hearts, our self-interests, our fears, and our understanding of God's love and mercy. You Welcomed Me invites the reader to greater involvement, but it first looks to transform our hearts."
"The issue of refugees and immigrants has become so politicized in our culture with narratives of fear and protectionism often drowning out the facts and the sheer humanity of their plight. Amazingly, we might even miss the key truth behind the question, what would Jesus do? That's why this thoughtful book by Kent Annan is so necessary now, to share stories and insights through the lens of Scripture. Read it as a tool to engage—because as Christ-followers we must engage in the most urgent humanitarian crisis of our lifetime."
"Annan cuts through the complexities around refugees, immigrants, and politics to create a compelling call for God's people to welcome refugees in meaningful ways. You Welcomed Me is an essential tool for those who want to get beyond the headlines and do something. With tangible, practical steps, Annan takes insights about bias, power, and 'othering' and creates steps to cultivate prophetic hospitality to the stranger."
"Kent Annan is a masterful writer and thoughtful, compassionate humanitarian who knows how to love in word and deed. His life service matches his lip service and the words on the pages of this book. These words are clothed in the love of God that welcomes the stranger, refugee, and immigrant, in not only theoretical ways but through meaningful, practical suggestions. This book is 'for such a time as this,' a prophetic literary witness of the Gospel for today. If you want to be more like Jesus, if you want to know the welcoming presence of God for the least, the lost, and the left out, read this book because in its pages breathes the hospitality of God for all people. In it, the reader will be challenged not only to be for Jesus but to be for what Jesus was for."
"You Welcomed Me is an urgent book that is inspiring, practical, and deeply rooted in spiritual practice. We're beloved by God and so we're welcomed and we're freed to welcome the stranger, the refugee, and the immigrant. Justice issues are also issues of our spirit, and God's generous presence transforms how we see others. In You Welcomed Me, Annan invites the reader into the freedom and responsibility of a deeper relationship with Jesus and with our neighbors. This is an essential invitation into a divine, loving way of life."
"You Welcomed Me is the book the church needs now to respond to the world with love. This conversation about welcome led by Kent Annan is necessary, helpful, and hopeful. This small volume provides space for good conversations that do not simplify or ignore the complexities of refugee resettlement, immigration, or security. Readers can learn and find new paths forward with practices that teach us to take the next steps in welcoming. It is easy to be overwhelmed, but You Welcomed Me will leave you filled with hope for how you can embody God's generous welcome in our world!"
"Kent gently provokes the reader toward inner contemplation and outward praxis in regard to a gospel-infused perspective on refugees and immigrants. In sharing actual stories based on his own proximity, he enlightens us on the biblical call of welcoming and empowering refugees alongside the necessary work of recognizing universal brokenness, beginning first with ourselves. You Welcomed Me is an important work for a crucial time in America's history."
"At a moment when Americans struggle with a global migration debate beamed into their living rooms and onto their phones, You Welcomed Me provides a path forward. Drawing on Scripture, Kent describes two things. One, why people decide they must leave their homes. And two, why living up to our responsibility to welcome the stranger is difficult. You Welcomed Me is honest, compassionate, and pragmatic—well worth your reading and reflection."
"Kent Annan masterfully takes the reader on a journey of empathy and understanding regarding, first of all, what God is doing in our hearts in relation to how we treat and welcome immigrants and refugees. Instead of focusing on fear and protecting ourselves, Kent asks us to consider how our hearts and lives might be shaped by God through the practice of welcoming the stranger. If we consider our neighbor as fully human, made in God's image, and deeply loved by God, how might our reaction change? How might we change? This book is a spiritual journey through the blessing of welcoming where we find that we are the ones who truly benefit."
"In this book, Kent Annan generously opens up the conversation about refugees and immigrants to create space for real listening and honest self-reflection. It continually reminds the reader of the costs—spiritual, economic, and social—of choosing to close our hearts to the stranger in the age of the exile. As a person who has continuously been welcomed by refugees in my own neighborhood, this book will be one I recommend over and over again to people who long to love their neighbors—both global and local—as themselves."
"According to Jesus hospitality is a defining feature of genuine Christianity. This book will inspire, equip, and challenge us all toward authentic discipleship. I urge you to read it."
"His empathetic, commonsensical, large-hearted meditation may well serve as a catalyst for such hope."
"The challenge of how to respond to immigrants and refugees has become a global conversation, all the more because the rate of displacement of people continues to grow. You Welcomed Me provides an excellent lens through which to examine this challenge and envision a Christian paradigm for engaging the problem. This is a very good and stimulating read."
1. Are We For or Against?
2. That Could Be Me
3. Real Concerns
4. This Is Our Story
5. Getting Practical
6. Form a Human Chain
7. Here Is Life
Appendix: Resources and Organizations for Next Steps