Tim Barnes (IAFR Executive VP) and I met online this morning with Steve Quackenbush (Director of Strategic Initiatives with SIL) and two of his colleagues to explore together how SIL can take its areas of expertise onto the Refugee Highway in life-giving ways. I was encouraged to hear of their growing passion for serving displaced people of all kinds, including those who are forcibly displaced. We will be continuing the conversation.
I then had a long overdue lunch with my friend and colleague, Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera today. It was good to catch up on life together as we have both been doing a fair bit of ministry related travel this summer.
Among other things, we had our first conversation about planning a Refugee Pastors Conference for our friends in Kakuma refugee camp. We’re thinking we could do it sometime in 2020. Thanks to a pledged donation of $25,000 from our friends at National Presbyterian Church (Washington, D.C.), this dream will become a reality.
I’m asking Pastor Gatera to take the lead in planning this conference (he lived and pastored in Kakuma refugee camp for 20 years). Our vision at present is to bring between 80-100 refugee pastors together in a retreat area away from the camp for 4 nights.
These pastors carry a heavy load. They have suffered the trauma of forced displacement themselves and pastor congregations of forcibly displaced people in a forgotten refugee camp. It’s difficult to imagine the burdens they carry.
I get some inspiration from the words of King David. Before he was king, David spent 10 or more years as a refugee fleeing persecution from king Saul. He once wrote:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23
God has given us a vision to give these pastors an opportunity to lie down in green pastures beside, quiet waters, in the refreshing presence of our Creator and Savior.
If you want to participate in this, we welcome more financial partners. The $25,000 will make it possible for us to bring 80-100 pastors together. But there are over 157 churches in the association with whom IAFR partners. Every donation of $400 to IAFR for this project will make it possible for us to add another pastor to the invitation list. Just be sure to designate your gift “for the Refugee Pastors Conference in Kenya”.
I’ll let you know more as the details come together.