“Glory to God!”

Above: a refugee church worships together in the little shade they can find. They will soon have a metal roof under which they can gather, thanks to our IAFR financial partners contributions to the Refugee Church Building fund.

Above: another refugee church getting a roof in Kalobeyei refugee settlement near Kakuma, Kenya.

These communities of faith play an indispensable role in helping people survive in Kakuma.

One of our partners sent his thanks via WhatsApp:

“Amen!! Glory to God, and so much blessings to the donors and to those who put in enormous energy and dedication to channel these funds to these points of need.”

*Photos sent to me via WhatsApp from our refugee partner in Kakuma

Training (cont)

Above: Our evening session on “Christian Witness Among Refugees”

It’s been a great week of training here in Minnesota this week. I’m so encouraged to see how everyone is connecting and wrestling with the sessions. How good to see brothers and sisters committed to serving refugees in life-giving ways.

Training

We launched a 4 day intensive training here in Minnesota tonight. A couple of the people are joining IAFR. The rest are sensing God leading them into some kind of ministry with refugees. A couple of them are here to learn so that they can develop a training for the agencies with which they serve, including Wycliffe and SIL.

People flew in from Philadelphia, Boulder, San Diego, Winnipeg and Bemidji. The rest are from various parts of the Twin Cities.

Please join me in praying that this week will be an encouraging and empowering time for all of participants.

A request from Kakuma

You might be surprised by some of the requests we get from our refugee friends. This request came via WhatsApp this morning – it’s for a Bible Dictionary. It’s a demonstration of the critical role faith plays in the lives of displaced people. Sometimes a Bible Dictionary is more valuable than food.

Nicholas Gagai sent the message. He is a strategic full-time worker living and serving with our refugee partners in Kakuma refugee camp. He’s Kenyan and ended up in Kakuma after fleeing post election violence in the country back in 2008.

He serves as the director of KISOM (the refugee established School of Mission) as well as the director of their interdenominational Refugee Youth Ministry.

You can financially partner with Nicholas in his strategic ministry by clicking here.

Photo: Nicholas Gagai in Kakuma

Heat in Athens

Our ministry partner in Athens sent me this photo yesterday. They are so thankful for ministry partners that make it possible to help refugees survive the winter in tents by providing portable heaters.

IAFR has a family (Ilir and Kate Cami) serving full-time with our Greek partner agency, One Heart. One Heart was founded by Sahar K. many years ago. She came to Greece as an Iranian Refugee about two decades ago. While a refugee, Sarah embraced faith in Jesus. She has devoted her life to serving refugees in Greece ever since.

What a privilege to serve together with such strategic ministry partners!

Overwhelmed

I chatted (above) with an Iranian leader with whom we partner in Greece. Winter is setting in. Refugees in the camp are suffering from cold and lack of food. The team is doing what they can to help. A church in the Netherlands just shipped 7 tons of rice to the team. Last fall they shipped several tons of beans to the team.

Another IAFR teammate received a request for help in Mali, where there is a massive number of people internally displaced due to escalating violence. The needs are overwhelming. We have no presence there and no ability to help.

We do what we can, but it isn’t enough. This weighs heavily on us all.

Father in heaven – Father here with us, have mercy on these displaced friends. Hear their cries.

Happy New Year!

I took this photo last night as a snowstorm was dropping it’s last flakes. It was so beautiful and tranquil outside.

I wish I could say that I expect peace to reign in 2020. But as we approach the New Year, it is looking like it will be another stormy one.

Still we engage the growing global mess with hope and not despair. For we know that God is alive and well and that he is active and engaged in time and space – and that he is good.

So let’s lean into what’s coming while embracing our privilege and calling to partner with God in the redemption and renewal of all things.

Writing

I took the day off at home. It was snowing hard outside, blanketing the house in the cozy silence of winter. It was a perfect day to spend several hours channeling my memory through a keyboard and saving it in the cloud.

I am slowly writing down some of the stories from my life – to help me remember – and to pass them along to my children without gloss or embellishment. I am first seeking to capture key defining moments in my life.

Today I wrote down the rather strange story of how faith took root in my life – and how I learned that evil must yield to the authority of Jesus. The story goes something like this…

A life derailed – broken bones – a vision of sorts – a thirst awakened – revelation by dandelion – spiritual awakening – a witch – a rescue – a traffic violation – a life transformed.

If someone told me such a story, I would question its veracity. But I know it to be true. And this was just the beginning.

Feeling used

It was “open mic Sunday” at our church today. So I braced myself for the worst before heading inside.

Pastor Jenna invited people to share a way that God showed up in their lives this past year. A beautiful series of stories surfaced as brave souls raised their hands.

A sister in our church shared how hard it has been to re-enter life in the US after several years of ministry in South Africa. She then said God showed up this year when we met during our annual church retreat.

She recounted telling Donna and I about her struggle. Apparently we responded by saying that “it can be tough when everyone here is sure that it is great to be back“. That was it – the words she needed to hear at that time. She felt seen and understood.

That was a significant God moment for her this year. And neither Donna or I had a clue just how much that simple encounter meant to her until today.

I have to confess, it feels good to be used of God in someone’s life.

I wonder how often God uses you and me like that – without our ever knowing? I hope and pray it is often.