1. Early in the novel, Bobbie tells Tracie that “Aching for one thing and enjoying something else aren’t mutually exclusive.” Do you agree? Have you experience this in your life? If so, give an example.
2. Think of Bobbie Blake’s relationship with Peggy Milner. Discuss why this relationship is so important to Bobbie. Do you have someone like Peggy in your life?
3. Have you ever met a child like Rasa who seems to have a depth and perception well beyond her years? What do you think of Rasa’s child-like faith? Does it encourage you or cause you to shake your head in disbelief?
4. Think of the circumstances in Bobbie’s and Tracie’s lives that caused each woman to have doubts and protect herself through withdrawal from some aspect of faith. Have you ever had something happen in your life which has caused you to turn inward and shut yourself away from what you perceive as potentially causing more pain? Discuss.
5. I greatly enjoyed researching Persian proverbs as I wrote this novel. Discuss these two:
You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens. Agree or disagree. Why?
The tree that bears the most fruit bends itself thankfully to the ground. Does this remind you of any biblical verses? What does this proverb mean to you?
6. Before reading The Long Highway Home, what was your opinion of refugees? How has that changed since reading the novel?
7. In the same way, did you have certain stereotypical ideas about missionaries? How has reading this novel made you more aware of their realities?
8. Which of the characters in the story can you most relate to and why? Whose faith journey can you relate most to and why?
9. Hamid’s perilous trek along the Refugee Highway causes him to cry out to Isa for help. Have you ever been in a situation where you had no one to turn to but God? How did you react?
10. Think of Stephen’s initial reaction when his mother talks to him about The Oasis. What causes Stephen gradually to change his mind about missionaries, refugees and faith? What causes his mother Connie to change?
11. Have you ever changed you opinion about a group of people after spending time with an individual who is part of that group?
12. Discuss the role Keith plays in the novel. Do you feel that an ‘up front’ ministry is more important than a ‘behind the scenes’ ministry? Why or why not?
13. For discussion here are three ‘Would you rathers’ that highlight the refugee’ plight:
Would you rather celebrate Christmas in an unheated stable in freezing weather or in a country where being a Christian is prohibited?
Would you rather be forbidden to sing Christmas Carols for forbidden to decorate your home with any Christian symbols?
Would you rather be alone in prison on Christmas Day or in a crowded refugee camp where no one else is a Christian?
14. Why does the play ‘Jesus the Refugee’ speak so clearly to Alaleh? Name one or two characteristics of Jesus’ life that touch you in a profound way.
15. How does Bobbie ultimately decide to forgive herself? Have you ever struggled with forgiving yourself after something difficult or even tragic has happened that you perceived to be your fault?
16. Discuss the theme of control in the novel. Which characters struggle the most with letting God have control in their lives? Share an instance in your life when you clutched tightly to something, believing you could control the outcome. What happened?