Liz's Reviews > Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith

Assimilate or Go Home by D.L. Mayfield
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it was ok

This felt like the Christian version of Eat Pray Love - a woman finding herself via a narrative where every other person is a plot device. Unfortunately, the plot devices are refugee communities... :-/ I suspect this book is rated highly because her story is sort of unusual among white evangelical Christians, but that group is not the only group of Christians in America by any stretch of the imagination. There are plenty of people doing incarnational work without coming off sounding self-righteous and exoticizing other culture groups.

"As it turns out, I also believed that my refugee friends were a sort of prop: nominal, one-dimensional stories in the great saga of my own life. When I finally started to believe the opposite, to see them as complex, flesh-and-blood people, everything got much, much harder."

"I realized more than anything—I wanted to live here, in the midst of them. I wanted to understand where they had come from, the ways they lived their lives. I wanted to eat their food and see if I could get anyone to laugh. I wanted to understand this place, this apartment complex that was a place itself inside a city that could care less; I wanted to escape and be changed by the people who were to me as exotic as a palm tree, a man-made island in the midst of my long blue sea of a life."

"There would be places for me wherever I went, places that made me feel and think and see things differently. It did not have to be the square, beige box of the successful American story (already, even at age fifteen, the thought of years of academia and jobs seemed stifling and soul crushing). There was color to be found in all the gray." ::eyeroll::

"To follow my dream of becoming a missionary, of working full time with people who needed me, to chase that intoxicating feeling of discovering other worlds, I knew I needed training."

"Thus, in many ways my classes were a break from reality. I could finally engage who I really was, a girl who fantasized about preaching in the underground church in Belarus, a girl who wanted to live in an Indian orphanage, or an African hospital, or a Chinese school. Wherever there was danger, persecution, a lack of resources and education and gospel witness—this is where I wanted to go. I loved Jesus, of course, that was always in the back of my mind. But in reality, what I wanted more than anything was to be of use to somebody."

"For far too long the only narrative I believed was the one where I came in and cleaned it all up and took it upon my own two shoulders—where I was the infinite in the wide, gaping ocean of sorrow."

"I didn’t see how that meant that my neighbors and refugee friends became my stepping stones in attaining the love of God; I didn’t see how it meant that I was using everyone around me in real and devastating ways." (the only essay I liked, because she came clean about her motivations).

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 7, 2017 – Shelved
September 7, 2017 – Finished Reading

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