Short Films, Food, and Dialogue

Friday (Apr 7), 12:00-1:30pm

Newbold Auditorium, Buller Hall

What is a refugee? Why would someone choose to leave home? What is like to search for a new residence? What are positive ways to support refugees? To address these questions, we heard from an Andrews University student about his refugee experience. We also watched and discussed two short documentaries about people seeking safety in Europe. While the experiences of refugees around the world are not identical, these films provide a window into one of the most intense recent movements of people.

Primary Sponsor: Adventist Peace Fellowship.


No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of A Shark (Poem by Warsan Shire in "No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of A Shark" by Abby Zimet, Common Dreams, 4 Sept 2015)

Discussion facilitated by Ingrid Slikkers (social work), Rachel Williams-Smith (communication), Lester Merklin (world mission), and Nicholas Miller (church history).

Discussion Questions: 4.1 Miles

1. What do you think the filmmaker’s purpose or agenda might be? How do you react to this?

2. Captain: “Life used to be under control. It was calm.” “The world needs to know what’s happening here! We can’t be going through this alone.” “There are no words to describe how I feel.” “It’s a nightmare. This agony.” These statements could be spoken by the refugees just as sincerely as by the Greek sailors. How do sympathy, empathy, and understanding “the other” affect policy analysis and social action? What possible positive and negative effects can you think of?

3. We see an icon of a saint inside the Coast Guard boat, the captain appears to have prayer beads, and another man prays fervently. What role does (or should) faith play in encouraging and sustaining (a) our personal response to human need and (b) the national and international response? What are the challenges of bringing our faith into the public setting, and what are the ramifications if we don’t?

4. Story: “Yesterday, the big coast guard boat brought refugees to the main port. Eight children were there, all soaking wet. My sister...went to the shop across the street asking for blankets.” Response: “Sure, but when three or four thousand people come like this every day….” Every individual and every society has limits. How can we honor these emotional, financial, spatial, logistical, and political limitations, and yet also strive to form a response equal to the need?

5. Final scene: a single life jacket floating, then a coast line littered with flotation detritus. What do you take away from these concluding images? What do they say to you?

6. What do you speculate God might see in all of this? Given your understanding of God, what is God taking note of?

NOTE: Dedicated to Mohamadi Amir Mahdi, the seven-year-old boy rescued in the film. He died two days later in the hospital.

Discussion Questions: Refuge

1. Whose story stood out to you the most in this film? What about it was striking? What would you like to ask or tell this person?

2. What questions does this film raise for you? What do you want to understand better? What steps can you take to explore these questions?

3. If you were to choose an additional film on any aspect of this refugee crisis, what would you want it to focus on in order to give a broader or more balanced or more complete view? In other words, what do you think was missing from these films that needs deeper reflection?

4. There are many “issues” and many ways to get involved with any given topic. How do you personally choose when and how to get involved? What wisdom can guide these decisions?

5. Our religious ethical commitments (e.g., act toward others how we would have them act toward us; love enemies; overcome evil with good; be merciful as God in heaven is merciful) teach us to care for those in need. However, it can be easy to react in one of two ways: (a) get involved and give endlessly until we are burned out and unable to care, or (b) to feel overwhelmed and walk away without helping at all. What in our faith/religion can help us avoid these two extremes? How has this played out in your life?

6. As people who wish to be faithful to Jesus above all else, is it possible to get involved with “political” topics like immigration without becoming partisan? How can we keep our focus on faithfulness rather than the power struggles of parties who continually shift their platforms and commitments?

7. One of my goals for today was to humanize refugees so we can have people in mind as we go about our social analysis, policy advocacy, social action, and religious worship. To what degree did these films help you see the people behind the policy debates? Do you have a critique of starting with this goal of humanizing?

Credit: Some of the questions were influenced by



65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide:

  • 21.3 million refugees (16.1 m under UNHCR; 5.2 m Palestinians refugees under UNRWA)
  • 40.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs)
  • 3.2 million assylum-seekers

54% of refugees worldwide are from three countries:

  • Syria - 4.9 million
  • Afghanistan - 2.7 million
  • Somalia - 1.1 million

Top hosting countries:

  • Turkey - 2.5 million
  • Pakistan (mostly from Afghanistan) - 1.6 million
  • Lebanon - 1.1 million
  • Iran - 979,400
  • Ethiopia - 736,100
  • Jordan - 664,100

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and Its 1967 Protocol -


Q. Who is a Refugee?

A. A refugee is a person who has fled his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. If the person is not in the United States, he or she may apply for inclusion in the U.S. refugee program. If the person is already in the United States, he or she may apply for the U.S. asylum program.

• Q and A -

• United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy (American Immigration Council) -

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs -

Refugees and Asylees in the United States:

More Information

An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy (American Immigration Council) -

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program FAQs -

Refugees and Asylees in the United States:


Michigan Nonprofits

• Bethany Christian Services -

• Refugee Outreach Kalamazoo (R.O.K.) -

• Samaritas -

• Welcoming Michigan -

National & International Nonprofits/NGOs/Agencies

• International Rescue Committee -

• World Relief -

• U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants -

• Refugee Council USA -

• We Welcome Refugees - &

• Interfaith Immigration Coalition -

Resources—Podcast Episodes

• ADRA & the Refugee Crisis (Ep 3), Adventist Peace Radio -

• Vickie Reddy (Ep 8), Chasing Justice -


• Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate (Soerens & Hwang Yang, 2009)

• Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible (Carroll, 2nd ed. 2013)

• Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (Daniels, 2nd ed. 2002)


• God Grew Tired of Us (PG doc, 2006) -

• Chasing Freedom (R movie, 2004) -

• The White Helmets (TV-14 doc, 2016) -


• Secretary Jeh Johnson & ATTN: Explain the process of screening Syrian refugees (4:00 min) -

• The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained (6:15 min) -

• We Welcome Refugees (2:20 min) -

Adventist Links

• Adventists Respond to the Call to Care for Refugees (Jackson, Huffington Post Blog, 9 Dec 2015) -

• World Refugee Sabbath (ADRA, 6:15 min) -

• ADRA -

• World Refugee Day -

• ADRA Statement on World Refugee Day -

• ADRA Calls for Humane Response to Refugee Crisis in Europe -

• ADRA Cares for Refugees in Europe’s Migrant Crisis (McChesney, Adventist Review, 4 Sept 2015) -

• Adventists in Germany Issue Statement about the Refugee Situation -

• Adventist Refugee and Immigrant Ministries -


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