Back to Top

Review: The Middle of Everywhere

Are you interested in the plight of refugees? Would you like to sponsor refugees as a group or church? The book The Middle of Everywhere by Mary Pipher is a great resource to help you understand what you would be getting yourselves into. No refugee family comes healthy and unscathed by the trauma they experienced in their homeland, during the escape and in refugee camps. I wish we had read this type of book earlier so we in our church could have better understood the cultures of their homelands and understood a bit better what they were going through as they were adapting to our culture.

To Ms. Pipher’s town of Lincoln, Nebraska, refugees flooded in from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South America. Each came wanting to hold onto their own culture and with their own unique stories of endurance through tragedy. Their stories are gut-wrenching and their loyalty to family is touching. Now, finding themselves in America, they have difficult cultural choices to make about what to keep of their own and what to embrace of American culture. Though Ms. Pipher is a psychologist she confesses she had a lot to learn from those she helped both professionally and as friends. She passes this learning along to us through their stories, both the sad and humorous ones.

The Middle of Everywhere includes a practical chapter on the ‘cultural broker,’ which would be our sponsoring group, whether private or church. This chapter lays out the responsibilities and obligations of such a broker. We need to teach those things we think everyone knows; from traffic lights, vitamins, and dress sizes to dangerous situations and brushing of teeth. It’s a list four pages long! Life’s necessities, such as housing, orientation, health care, and more all need to be taught to our newcomers to make their adjustment to our country easier.

We humans need the ability “to recognize ourselves in another, see our common humanity and blow each other a kiss of welcome,” writes Ms. Pipher. This seems to echo Hebrews 13:1-3-- "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as you were fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering."

I encourage you to read ‘the Middle of Everywhere’. Learn and have your eyes and hearts opened to welcoming strangers from everywhere.

[Image: Flickr user Sherman Geronimo-Tan]


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.