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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Refugee expressions

Works with words and hands tell of experiences

We Americans became dramatically familiar with the refugee experience this year as we watched heart-wrenching TV footage of Kosovars fleeing their homes and, later, as we welcomed some of them here (see page 44).

The World Council of Churches published a moving book of artistic expressions by refugees from around the world: Stormy Seas We Brave: Creative Expressions of Uprooted People (1998; paper, $22.50). Compiled by the WCC's Helene Moussa, this large-format book is filled with poems, dramas, stories, songs and photographs of paintings, drawings, embroidery and sculpture by refugees of every age, including children.

All aspects of the refugee experience are captured in poignant images: lost identity, separation from loved ones, longing for one's native land, and fear for safety and life itself. There are also some amazing expressions of religious faith and hope. Here is "The Believer" by a Bosnian refugee:

In me
the emptiness of erring ways
Your Word
came alive
Now I know the secret
of the moth
that strains toward the light.

Most of the paintings and drawings are reproduced in black-and-white but are no less effective for that. At intervals, a work in color seems to jump right off the page. The cover illustration, painted by a Vietnamese refugee in a Hong Kong camp, is an expression of the book's title. If your religious bookstore doesn't have this book, you can order it from the WCC U.S. distribution center: PO Box 348, Route 222 and Sharadin Rd., Kutztown, PA 19530-0348, or call (800) 523-8211.


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