Oregon priest on Sudanese refuges

January 10, 2008 (Chicago, IL) – From Angelina Jolie to George Clooney to Bono, celebrities from every bent have alerted us to the critical situation of violence, poverty, starvation, and the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Fr. Gary Smith, a Jesuit priest from Oregon, is not of celebrity status, but that did not stop him from listening to the plight of the African people and spending six years living among and serving the Sudanese refugees.

His journey began one night in Portland, Oregon, while chatting with friends over pizza and beer. Smith started talking about how he was becoming too “comfortable” in his eight-year assignment of serving the homeless in the city. During this conversation, he realized he wanted to be with the poor in a radical way. What ensued was a life-changing experience for Smith.

They Come Back Singing, by Gary Smith, S.J., is his vivid, inspiring journal of the deep connections forged during the years he spent with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Northern Uganda/Southern Sudan refugee settlements.

Smith knew from the outset that Africa was uncharted territory for him and a risky journey. He saw first-hand the hopeless situation of the refugees and their unexpected strength and hope even in their most dire situations.

Through his account of being a missionary in Africa, Smith is both a witness to and beneficiary of how God provides the strength to move forward in hope and with love. He was surrounded by suffering people who, despite being displaced by a brutal civil war, found the spiritual strength to let go of the many and deep sorrows of the past.

Smith is also the author of Radical Compassion: Finding God in the Heart of the Poor. A California native, he currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

They Come Back Singing:
Finding God with the Refugees
An African Journal by Gary Smith, S.J.
Loyola Press
Paperback $14.95
ISBN-13: 978-0-8294-2701-1
PUB DATE: February 1, 2008

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