A new book reveals the seldom-heard backstories of some of our newest Minnesotans -- refugees.

Called "This Much I Can Tell You," the collection of stories was compiled by the Minnesota Council of Churches' Refugee Services program.

In all, 18 men and women from such embattled countries as Bhutan, Iraq, Liberia and Zimbabwe share their memories of persecution, flight and adjustment to life in a strange, new land.

Some stories are horrific.

Like the one told by Moses, who was taken by rebel fighters in Liberia to see his brother's beheaded corpse. "I see my brother laying there with his head sitting on his chest."

All are deeply personal.

Since the 1970s, Minnesota has welcomed more than 90,000 refugees.

The council's refugee services program is a local arm of national groups that contract with the U.S. State Department to resettle refugees in the United States.

While the stories of refugees are told repeatedly to government agents during interviews to determine whether to grant them entry into the country, those accounts are rarely shared with the masses.

"We have such a rich tradition of welcoming the stranger, but not really understanding the personal story that comes with them," said Rachelle King, director of refugee services for the Minnesota Council of Churches.

"My hope is that we can get to know each other better and this can be documented as a really important part of Minnesota history."

In his forward for the book, Garrison Keillor wrote: "Heroes, all of them -- the new pilgrims, the refugees."

Part of the funding for the book -- or about $7,000 -- came from the state's legacy fund designated for arts and cultural heritage projects.

Cost of the paperback book is $15, and all proceeds from sales will go toward future printings of the book. For more info, go to www.mnchurches.org/refugeestories/?page_id=34.

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488