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
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
Photo: A refugee church building funded by IAFR
I am so thankful for our growing team of partners that generously invest in the welfare of refugees through the work of IAFR.
Because of them, I had the joy of initiating an international transfer of funds to our refugee church partners in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya) yesterday. The funds will soon be transformed into 14 new refugee church buildings!
The buildings are desperately needed as the climate is harsh and our brothers and sisters need a shaded and protected space in which to gather and worship together. These communities of faith play a critical role in keeping hope alive and affirming the dignity of people who have been stripped of everything.
IAFR partners have put a roof over the head of 28 refugee churches this year! That’s a record!
What a great Christmas gift! Not only does it meet a critical need, it also is a tangible expression that they are not forgotten by the church at large!
But there’s even more good news! Our financial partners empowered us to set another international transfer to Kakuma. This one covers the 2020 high school fees for 5 girls that we are sponsoring! This investment has the potential to radically change the future prospects of these girls – and their families!
Can you tell I’m excited? And so thankful? None of this happens unless we partner together.
My heart is heavy. I received tragic news this week from a pastor/friend in Kakuma, Kenya. A soccer game in the refugee camp went wrong. Ethnic fighting broke out leaving six refugees dead.
Kakuma is around 60 miles from the border of Kenya and South Sudan. Years of ethnic violence plagues South Sudan. It is no surprise that such outbursts would happen in the camp that is host to tribes that are at war with each other just over the border.
Hopelessness doesn’t help. Many of our friends in Kakuma have been there for decades with no hope of ever leaving. Yet as refugee camps are temporary by definition, neither can they stay forever. The resulting emotional stress is impossible for people like you and I to comprehend – unless you’ve experienced it firsthand yourself.
Add to the stress of having no place in the world, insufficient food rations, restrictions on movement, rationed water, hostile climate, overcrowded schools, etc. and it is a wonder that more such violence doesn’t occur.
May God use the refugee church in Kakuma to help bring reconciliation and restore peace and safety to the camp. Amen.
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 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.
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.