Recent Reads: Assimilate or Go Home by D. L. Mayfield

Jen Bradbury
Dec 16 · 5 min read

Assimilate Or Go Home

What the book's about: Assimilate or Go Home is a memoir about Mayfield's experience with refugees. It's a story about how her faith grew and changed when she befriended people whose faith looked nothing like hers. 

Why I read this book: I have followed Mayfield's writing elsewhere and was excited for the release of her book. Additionally, as someone who works with refugees, I was eager to learn from Mayfield's experience. 

My favorite quotes from the book:

- "It was never my job to save, or convert, but rather to simply show up and believe." 

- "I view it now as a rich legacy of service born out of racist and sexist theology: the mission field was one of the few places a woman could be in a place of leadership. And so the female preachers, teachers, and evangelists left the West, forsaking families and cultures that had no place for their gifts. And they brought liberation with them, wherever they went." 

- Refugees "are shocked to find they are still living in survival mode, although they no longer have to worry about lions, soldiers, or starvation. But there are different predators, all around, waiting for the first sign of weakness." 

- "We are all being converted, all the time." 

- "We were slowly shocked by the cost of human relationships. We didn't yet understand what it means to stick around long enough to experience the fullness of how messy life is on the margins." 

- "The best way to humanize an issue is to actually be involved in it." 

- "But to choose to bring life into the world and to choose to seek ways to keep lives together - we couldn't help but feel like we were giving the finger to the darkness that seemed to surround us." 

- "I am exactly the kind of person Jesus came for. He can only heal us once we figure out that we can't be of any use at all. He can do it, because he's a real big man. He has to be, just to explain the way things are." 

- "All I really ever wanted was to love on my terms, in a way that elevated me above my neighbor, distinguished me as good and holy, receiving accolades in a most humble way. All I ever wanted to do was oppress people, in the kindest way possible." 

- "I was never the prodigal. I was never a long way off, never strayed from the fold. I was born in the church, schooled in the church, and imagined myself to die a saint-like death in the church. And since I never left the Father, it never felt like he was looking for me." 

- "We aren't being asked to assimilate, but we are called to make our home here more like the kingdom we have always dreamed about but were too scared to believe was possible. Because God's dream for the world is coming, looming brighter and brighter on the horizon." 

Who I'd recommend this book for: This book is SO good, one of my favorites memoirs of 2016. Those involved in refugee ministry will find it particularly poignant and engaging.