Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D. L. Mayfield
ASSIMILATE OR GO HOME is the tender (and sometimes painful) story of a big-hearted missionary working with Somali refugees. The author starts off with a grand vision of her life on the mission field, "wanting to convert everyone around me." The only problem was, Ms. Mayfield turned out to be not so good at making converts. She admits, "I have not converted one single Muslim; I have not changed the minds of any of my friends. I am pretty much the worst missionary ever..." Ms. Mayfield explains she is just not gifted in the traditional approach to evangelism: "I am terrible at converting people the old-fashioned way, with logic and reasoning and concise tracts and fluid, poignant sermons."
Nevertheless, the author's mission was not a failure--it was just a "success" in a completely different way. Her life changed in a profound way; she realized how little she really knew about loving people the way that Jesus did: "I eventually discovered that I am more loved by God than I could have possibly believed, even in the midst of great failure. "
Ms. Mayfield practiced what I would call "couch outreach." She spent a TON of time just showing genuine love to people living in desperate situations: "The more I showed up and sat on couches, the more I discovered that the good news of the kingdom of God came hand in hand with English lessons, malaria medication, WIC vouchers, and warm coats in winter."
I found ASSIMILATE OR GO HOME to be a sobering, moving story. The author really bares her soul as she shares her lessons learned with the refugees. Pay special attention to the very last chapter, which contains a big lesson--for the author, as well as the reader. Here, Ms. Mayfield admits that she had originally approached her mission like an "elder brother." That is, she thought she could impress God with hard work. Ultimately, the author learned a profound lesson: "God loves everybody, exactly the same. No matter what you do."
You don't get "special" favoritism from God for working with the poor. Just like the elder brother in the Prodigal Son parable, she had to learn to stop looking for the special recognition. She had to "sit down and enjoy the party."
I thought this one line sums up the lesson painfully learned by the author: "The world is so much worse than we would like to believe, and God is so much wilder than we are being taught."
Advance Review Copy courtesy of Edelweiss.