cover image Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary

Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary

D.L. Mayfield. HarperOne, $14.99 trade paper (224) ISBN 978-0-06-238880-3

Mayfield was raised by born-again Christian parents who moved frequently to help nascent church communities grow. She became interested in passing on the teachings of Jesus at an early age. This youthful wandering instilled a passionate missionary spirit in Mayfield, and her beautifully written, emotionally rich memoir centers around her years of work with Somali Bantu refugees relocated in Portland, Ore. Mayfield’s initial zeal for converting everyone to Jesus and the Bible gives way to a nagging suspicion, and then a powerful certainty, that the push toward conversion is misguided. Mayfield is hardest on herself; the reader can almost see her shaking her head as she remembers what she now sees as the missteps of her early missionary career, however well-intentioned. As Mayfield’s love grows for this complicated group of immigrants—mainly women and children—her prose and reflections on faith soar with intelligence and compassion. With prescient commentary on the crisis of global immigration and wise points on the nature of finding peace on our own terms, Mayfield’s close observation of the difficult journey of refugees trying to make a new life abroad while desperately missing the homes they were forced to abandon is required reading in an age of increased turmoil surrounding the status of refugees worldwide. (Aug.)