I can’t remember the last that that I read a memoir where I was laughing hysterically and weeping uncontrollably in back-to-back paragraphs. With much talk about justice among evangelicals these days, Russell Jeung offers the real story of an honest, embodied life of justice. If every student I have ever taught said they wanted to be the next Russell Jeung – nothing would make me more proud. Please read this book.
He is a masterful and compelling storyteller, taking the reader not just into the daily lives of impoverished immigrants in Oakland, CA, but also inside his own struggles and transformation as he comes to identify with the poor. By showing himself to be a flawed and humble example of someone who clearly wants to follow Jesus, Jeung manages both to inspire and instruct the reader to take concrete steps in the direction of “the least of these.”
Activist. Theologian. Hakka. Chinese American. Follower of Jesus. These words describe Russell Jeung and yet do not fully comprehend the story he has crafted in this masterful book. Part autobiography, part community history, and part liberation lived theology, At Home in Exile captures the heart and soul of following Jesus through living in community among the poor in Oakland. Follow and be transformed.
Jeung writes with the acuity of a scholar, the heart of a pastor, and the soul of a Christ follower. A compelling commentary on consumerism, materialism, success, patriarchy, power, marginality. At Home in Exile is informed by Jeung’s Asian American identity, he gives tremendous insights for people of all backgrounds. His family history takes the reader through a journey that touches on Hollywood’s history, immigration history, the emergence and destruction of Chinatowns, and family and social services. It is a portrait of the unexpected way perceptions of race touch many of society’s institutions —which has surprising implications for today’s contentious issues.
I was inspired, challenged and my faith and conscience pricked at times reading Russell’s obedience of truly walking amongst and embracing the poor. At the same time, his transparency of his own humanness facing at times the raw reality of humanity and poverty and living in a crime driven neighborhood makes his faith ever more real. Finally, I was inspired to want to do more as he shares the beauty, joy, life and hope that can be found even amongst the poor and those in exile and the interconnectedness amongst all of us.