Translation: “I need help with a couple of things. First, I need counseling – our present situation is even affecting our kids as they are cooped up indoors for long periods of time with nothing to do.”
I got this message yesterday from a friend/pastor who was a refugee in Uganda until this summer when he and his family were forced to uproot again and flee to Kenya. That happened in the last few months.
They are not in a camp. They are among the millions of urban refugees in the world (60% of the worlds refugees are in urban centers).
They are relatively safe for the time being. But the trauma of another sudden displacement, the stress of daily life and the uncertainty of the future are weighing heavily on him and his family.
So he messaged me via WhatsApp. I’m getting in touch with some skilled trauma care people in Kenya to see if they might be able offer him some support. It’s really tricky because trust is low when one has been traumatized and uprooted and everyone is a stranger.
Please pray with me for him. Just call him Pastor P.
Above: I came across this boy in Kakuma refugee camp. He’s an orphan. He was watching his two sisters cook beans for supper outside of their tent. The tattered U.N. tent had served as their home for many months. While they should have been upgraded to a mud hut long ago, budget cuts have made it impossible for the humanitarian agencies to keep up with the needs. The budget cuts are directly related to the decisions of wealthy nations like the US to reduce their contributions to the UN’s humanitarian service. While no one in the US feels any repercussions of the new policies, this boy and his sisters do. Even their daily allowance of beans has been cut back.
It’s never easy in the camp – but the volume has been turned up when it comes to daily challenges here.
IAFR included a photo gallery of some of my photos at our 10 Year Celebration this year. It included 9 high quality acrylic framed prints from the places we have served over the years. This photo was among them. If you are interested in owning one, let me know. We would be happy to send you a gallery quality 14″ x 8″ acrylic print for $89 plus shipping costs.
All images are printed and framed using the professional gallery quality services of WhiteWall.com.
Just let me know if you’re interested in owning one (or more) and we will figure out how to pay and ship from there.
Above: I met this boy in a doorway. He had been sent by his mother to pick up a small care package for the most vulnerable refugees in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Note the noise in the back room from which he is emerging. Default print size: 14″ x 8″. Cost $89 plus shipping.
The IAFR celebration included a gallery of 9 photos that I’ve taken over the years. I will post a new one here from time to time.
If you would like to own a professional resolution acrylic framed photo, let me know and I will be happy to send you one (see related cost under the image). Larger or smaller prints are possible as well. The price will adjust accordingly.
Whether hanging in your church, office or home, they offer a great way to raise the profile of refugees in the world today – and perhaps also serve as a reminder to pray for displaced people around the world.
I print them using the professional gallery services of WhiteWall.com. I’m happy to make the photos available at near cost of having them printed and framed.
Let me know if you would like to own one by clicking here now.
I am presently with a group of 17 other Christian leaders for four days of meetings here in Bangkok.
We are all connected through the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP), a global network of Christians serving refugees that I helped launch back in 2001.
The RHP has grown significantly over the years and it is high time that we updated some of the structure and systems that keep us all connected.
With networks well established in Europe, North America, Brazil and Turkey – and emerging networks in East Africa, Oceana, South Asia and Central America, the RHP plays an important role in raising awareness of refugee realities and the unique role the church can play in helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.
This shrine (photo) is across the street from the Christian Guest House that is hosting us.
This picture tells a thousand stories. I met Insaf (bottom left) in 1998 when researching refugee ministry opportunities in Istanbul (her husband, Shawki, is far right). They were refugees from Iraq. They turned my understanding of refugee ministry on its head. They had planted a refugee church in Istanbul by accident. Before finally getting resettled to Canada 🇨🇦 in 2001, they were also running a school for refugee children (that included a daily meal) out of the church. Insaf continues to serve refugees in the Middle East today with IAFR Canada.
Innocent is the African in the photo. He has a Burundian passport, even though he spent all but 3 months of his first 27 years outside of Burundi as a refugee. We met in Malawi back in 2007 (I think) and a have been partnering in ministry together in Dzaleka refugee camp ever since.
Then there’s Jake (middle). I met him in Malawi too. He was serving with Innocents organisation (There Is Hope). Jake joined IAFR when he and his wife returned to the states a few years ago. He presently serves as our Regional Leader for East Africa.
And Rachel is in the photo too. We first met when she was serving refugees in Athens. She and her husband, Tim, went on to pioneer ministry in Rome and later in London. They now serve with IAFR. She’s our Director of Training and Tim (not pictured) is our Assistant Director of Operations.
We all met at the North American Round Table of the Refugee Highway Partnership in Toronto last week.
I count myself blessed to be counted among their friends.
In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted here recently, it’s because I’m in Kakuma refugee camp in remote northwestern Kenya. I am posting to the IAFR Kakuma blog. I invite you to check it out.
I begin another trip to Kakuma refugee camp in remote northwestern Kenya today. I am looking forward to seeing how our friends there are doing. I’m taking three people with me, including Jenna (a pastor from my church), Wendy (on staff with a local refugee resettlement agency) and Paul (IAFR’s Europe Regional Leader).
We’ve got a full schedule that includes…
- A day seminar on Christian Stewardship with leaders from churches in Kakuma camp and surrounding host community. This is at their request.;
- Sunday worship with churches in the camp and surrounding host community;
- A 2 day women’s ministry conference with women from the camp and host community;
- A day gathering of a diverse slice of people living in the camp to learn from them about daily life in Kakuma;
- A day gathering with church leaders in nearby Kalobeyei refugee settlement to deepen our relationships as so much of our previous time has focused on projects;
- A visit with our friends and partners in the nearby camp for internally displaced people (i.e. Kenyans) with whom we have been building shelter and working on providing a local supply of clean water;
- Visits with friends in the refugee camps, the IDP camp, and the host community;
- Documenting progress on the many projects we are pursuing in the Kakuma context (i.e. IDP Water Project, IDP Shelter Project, KISOM School Building Project, Refugee Youth Camp Project, Refugee/IDP High School Scholarship Project, Refugee Church Building Project)
It’s important to note that we never do more than 50% of the teaching/speaking at conferences/seminars with our refugee brothers and sisters as we have at least as much to learn from them as they do from us.
We need and welcome your prayers for safe travels, good health, and fruitful ministry while in Kenya!
I plan to post a few updates from Kakuma to the IAFR Kenya blog – so be sure to check it out. You can also see posts from previous visits.
Strengthening the core of IAFR has been the priority this month.
We had a 2 day leadership training followed by our Annual Missionary Conference.
I’ve put considerable time and thought into assessments and preparations for our upcoming Annual Board Meeting in mid September.
I’ve also been putting down the foundation for our 10 Year Celebration (IAFR turned 10 this year!) on 15 November 2019 in St. Paul, MN.
I’m finalizing plans for my upcoming visit to Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya). I’m taking a team of 3 with me again this time. And I’m already working on plans for my Kakuma visits in March 2020 and again in April 2020.
I’m trying to put together a delegation of Christian leaders affiliated with World Evangelical Alliance to participate in the UN Global Refugee Forum in Geneva in December. Sadly my attempts to find financial supporters have not been fruitful to date. Still I hope and pray for a breakthrough as I believe it is important for well informed Evangelical voices from around the world to speak into the forum.
I continue to consult via WhatsApp with a brother who was forced to flee to Kenya a few weeks ago.
I’m thankful for these opportunities to serve. I pray that these investments will bear fruit in ways that assure our forcibly displaced friends that God is with them and that he loves them.
It was a joy and blessing to have Dr. George Kalantzis from Wheaton College (IL) lead our morning sessions exploring the nature and meaning of the gospel during our annual IAFR missionary conference this year.
George has played a key role in our partnership with Wheaton College and its Humanitarian Disaster Institute in the past 4+ years in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya). He plans to travel to Kakuma with me again in March 2020 to continue investing in the refugee church leaders with whom we partner. Dr. Margaret Diddams, Provost of Wheaton College, also plans to join us on that visit.
We thank God for partners like George who not only teach theology but also make themselves fully available to reflect deeply on the Gospel.