The Red Couch: Love Undocumented Introduction


Immigration is a red-hot iron poker in the politics of our day. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the facts, lies, stories, and media. A year ago my Facebook feed was crowded with pictures of children in cages. Families being ripped apart at the border. I was filled with indignation. I donated, called my congresspeople, did “my part” and then … kept scrolling.

I had works without love.

Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World by Sarah Quezada shines a light on the Image of God in refugees, immigrants, and those who are lost in the margins. Sarah reminds us to love in action, a love which should forever be embedded in our faith.

Sarah is your everyday Christian who wanted to change the world and moved to LA to work with an urban outreach program. She found herself falling in love with a Guatemalan musician who didn’t realize the importance of fine print in his early 20’s when in America on a 10-year visa. Love Undocumented guides us through their process with the immigration system. Foreshadowing of hope and awareness of the complicated intricacies of immigration set the tone in the pages from the start.

This book is full of winding turns, curtailed promises, and tears. Like when out-of-date laws and the chance to be denied, even when obeying the red tape to the letter of the law creates heartbreak. Or when one hard-won piece of paper creates safety from deportation, but not from the savagery of humans who hold power over those in our margins. A page-turner as you hope justice wins in the end. The justice you think is owed, however, may look different than you may have expected as you progress through the pages.

When most other couples are deciding what color to paint the walls, Sarah and Billy had to take a gritty look at what their future looks like. Being brutally honest about how far they would go for one another as a mixed-status couple. Would you be willing to spend ten years outside of America, just to marry your spouse? What about three? What would you do if you had to turn over your one piece of paper proving you are legal in return for a promise of something in the future? These are questions I had never thought about. Sarah, Billy, and thousands of others did and still do.

In sickness and in health, in good times and bad. But what about when the good overlaps with what is illegal? Or when what is legal overlaps with the bad? In our day and age, it is challenging to paint concepts as black and white. Sarah calls us to a place of wrestling with the grey of life. Deftly weaving the redeeming gospel of Christ, with how we can come together to support and cherish our neighbors, whoever they may be.

Christians, including myself, feel as though we are straddling the line between wanting to help and not knowing what is right or allowed. Feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“It’s not right … but what can we do … ”

To this, Sarah writes, “But many stop short of grappling with God’s directive to seek justice for the poor and welcome the stranger because of their loyalty to laws of the state …” (pg 65). She reminds us of Jesus, the Good Samaritan story, of taking care of the meek, the outsiders, the ones who have been cast out. Encouraging us to pick up our hearts, lift out our hands; embracing those around us who may not have a safe place to live, learn, and rest.

I had expected a TV drama in this book: of people crawling through fences and using coyotes. Although those stories are shared alongside her and Billy’s, this a story of love and community. When we open our eyes to the stories of our neighbors and become invested, we can’t help but long for more.  Working together to make reconciliation happen. The song lyrics by Hillsong, “Break my heart for what breaks yours” comes to mind. When our hearts are broken, we take action.  Maybe we haven’t gotten involved with immigration reform and the families affected, because we haven’t let our hearts become close enough to be touched … let alone broken.

Love Undocumented is one of a million varied stories and yet it leaves you wanting to know more stories. It holds your heart, looks you in the eye and speaks truth in love. Sometimes the truth hurts as we realize how our biases and false stories we’ve believed, have held us back from recognizing the Image of God in the humans around us. In this case, with this book, we are better and bolder for it.

I know I am, so join me, in this book about choosing love, hope, and togetherness in a world that wants to keep us apart.

We hope you’ll join the discussion as we seek the image of God in all political debates.

We will be talking about this book all month long over in the Red Couch Facebook page. We hope you’ll join in the conversation! And come back here at the end of May for a discussion post led by Jamie Watkins.

The Nightstand: A short list of books to enhance and deepen your reading experience

A Place for Us by  Fatima Farheen Mirza

The Girl who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamaryia and Elizabeth Weil

The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang
(And read our Red Couch Introduction and Discussion posts about this book!)