D.L. Mayfield | When Refugees become neighbors and friends

D. L. Mayfield

D. L. Mayfield lives and writes on the outskirts of Portland, OR with her husband and two small children. Mayfield likes to write about refugees, theology, and downward mobility, among other topics.

Her book of essays, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith was released by HarperOne in 2016. 

Her writing has appeared in a variety of places, including McSweeneys, Christianity Today, Sojourners, The Washington Post, Image Journal, Vox, and The Rumpus, among others.

Her second book will be released in early 2020.

She is trying very hard to be a good neighbor.

Danielle introduces herself and shares about working with Somali Bantu Refugees in Portland, OR while she was attending Bible College.

“That experience changed my life and it upended the way I saw the world…I really had to address these two basic questions: Is my religion really good news for people who aren’t just like me?…The second, is my country good news for someone who isn’t exactly like me?…That is, sort of, where my life has taken me, since I was 19, on this journey with God trying to ask those questions and having my life be changed mostly by refugee communities here in the U.S.”

7:19 Danielle shares how she came to know Jesus.

10:19 The subtitle of Danielle’s book Assimilate or Go Home is Notes From A Failed Missionary On Rediscovering Faith.  She shares a little how she failed, and what she discovered about her faith.

“I have been working in refugee communities now for almost 15 years and I have failed to convert anyone to be just like me.  I’m a white, evangelical, middle class American woman and nobody has turned out just like me.”

“Then, I was like, now what? In my classes I was never taught what to do when people were like thank you, but no. I sort of had the impression that you are supposed to move on. You are supposed to go find other people. You are supposed to keep going and try to find the ones that will convert and instead I felt God say, ‘I want you to stick around. I don’t want you to go anywhere’.”

Catholic Charities

 16:49 Danielle describes a season in life where she began to shift from the kingdom of God as a spiritual concept to the kingdom of God as being here and now, a changing of the world to reflect what God desires.

Study how Jesus did His own ministry to further understand the Kingdom of God.

Luke 4

  • Proclaim good news to the poor
  • Set the captives free
  • Recover site for the blind
  • Set the oppressed free

Danielle or D.L. Mayfield’s next book: The Myth of the American Dream dives deeper into:

“Jesus was obsessed with people who were poor and sick and sad and had been oppressed, but turning it on its head and saying, ‘What about the opposite places? What about affluence and safety and wellness and autonomy and freedom and power?’….I want to believe Jesus and I want to be where Jesus always said He was going to be at work, which means I need to orient in my life in some different spaces. I don’t think I will ever get over the reality that the Kingdom of God is God’s dream for the world.”


“You can tell is shalom is really happening in a community by how the most marginalized are experiencing it or if they’re not. When we think about loving our neighbors or the Kingdom of God, the way can tell if our neighbors are being loved well or if the Kingdom of God is coming to earth is by looking at the people most at risk in our society.”

To learn more about Shalom read The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper.

Randy Woodley, Indigenous Theologian

Danielle defines Shalom as the flourishing of an entire community.

“A hallmark of Christianity is this radical notion that we do have responsibility for each other.”

Shannan Martin, EP. 08

“When you open yourself up to responsibility to other people, you open yourself up to definitely have your heart be broken, to definitely question how you think the world works, but you also are opened up to an actual vibrant life, where you experience Christ in other people and in the world.”

25:33 Danielle share the difference between an immigrant and a refugee

28:40 Danielle does life with people who have come to our country seeking safety, she speaks to people who want to keep refugees out

“They’re here and they are making the best of it, but their life is one of perpetual sorrow.”

“If I’m talking to a Christian, it does get a little bit tricky when we talk about refugees and immigrants. For me, it is such an intrinsic part of this Kingdom of God and Shalom theology. In fact, you can see in the Old Testament there is what theologian, Walter Bruggamen calls the triad of the vulnerable.  This triad God talks about constantly is the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner. I do think we need to reclaim that as a part of what makes Christians unique. We serve a God, who is obsessed with a people that society views as [outcast]…God is saying, We are different. They are actually privileged. They are actually the one my eye is on. They are the ones who are blessed. And you, as an entire community will be blessed if you will support them, if you will take care of them, if you will shelter them from the Pharaoh’s of the world.”

33:23 Danielle shares a few recommendations

37:50 Danielle talks about neighborliness in our individualist culture.

45:38 Danielle speaks to people like me, who live in an upper class neighborhood sends her kids to private school, yet desires to be in relationship with more people who are different and often ponders if we should make some downward mobility choices

Ask the question, “Where is there injustice in our communities? Where there is injustice we have neighbors who are suffering.”

“I do think we have become conditioned to down play the injustice we notice, to push away our responsibility to other people or we seek to come up with really easy ways to fix it.”

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