The IAFR “Service Team” came to the Minnesota office last week for our annual assessment and planning sessions. We are a decentralized team, with two in Peoria, IL, two more in Grand Rapids, MI, and four of us here in the Twin Cities. While we get a lot done working remotely and leveraging Zoom video conferencing, we occasionally need to meet face to face for more in-depth assessment and decision-making.
A highlight of our meetings last week was the shared conviction that the Service Team measures our success by the effectiveness of our missionaries in the field, who in turn, measure their effectiveness by their life-giving impact in the lives of refugees where they serve.
I thank God for the privilege of working alongside of these devoted colleagues!
The Service Team includes IAFR’s…
- US Regional Leader – supporting our teams in Colorado, Georgia, and Minnesota
- Director of Training – both internal missionary training and external training opportunities for other missions and churches
- Our Director or Project Management – assisting with the development of new projects and tracking active projects
- Assistant Director of Operations – assisting the Executive VP, primarily with mobilisation
- Executive Team Assistant – assisting the President and Executive VP as needed
- Executive Vice President – Overseeing Finance, HR, Service Team
- President – Overseeing Regional Leader support, IAFR US – IAFR Canada collaboration, Board Development, Development, Publications, Website, engagement with World Evangelical Alliance
- Director of Social Media – she’s presently in training and raising support. We hope to see her active by early 2020
We had a great time last night celebrating the first 10 years of IAFR ministry with around 90 friends, partners, refugees and asylum seekers. We remembered our beginnings and highlight some of the different ways we are all partnering together to help people survive and recover from forced displacement.
The evening included a photo gallery of high quality framed prints from some of the photos I’ve taken over the years (above).
We were so happy to celebrate how God has given us the privilege of participating with him as he answers the prayers of our uprooted friends.
While most of those who came were from the Twin Cities, we were thrilled to have people fly in from Washington DC (from National Presbyterian Church) and Seattle (our Board Chair and a friend from her churches’ mission board) and even LA (my daughter, Sarah, surprised me by flying into MN for the weekend).
Kudos to my colleague and IAFR Executive VP, Tim Barnes, for planning the program (above).
I came away with a thankful heart for everyone who makes IAFR possible!
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.
IAFR celebrates its first decade of ministry this year! So we’re having a party and inviting you (and anyone else interested) to join us for an evening of celebration around a table together.
RSVP is required. Click here to register today!
I am thankful for the dedicated Board of Directors that stands behind everything IAFR does. I’ve heard some peers speak in terms of fear and trepidation when they plan their board meetings. I thank God for the team of Directors who may not always agree with me or one another, but who unquestionably have the good of IAFR in mind in all they do.
While we meet monthly through online video conferencing, September is the month when we have our Annual face-to-face Board Meeting here in Minnesota.
Our first board meeting was held outside of a Famous Dave’s restaurant in Minneapolis back in 2009, so we will maintain tradition and start off our Annual Board Meeting weekend with an informal meal by Dave’s in our porch on Friday evening.
We will then convene at the IAFR office all day Saturday. We will assess the past year of ministry, solve some challenges and take care of necessary business. This is not the shiny part of the work – but it is ever so important as the board assures we are faithfully pursuing our God-given mission of helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.
I welcome your prayers as I make final preparations for the weekend – and for the Saturday board meeting itself.
15 NOVEMBER 2019
You might want to be in the Twin Cities that evening. There is going to be a celebration 🎉
Curious? There just might be a helpful clue in my preceding post.
Be sure you are signed up for IAFR emails (just go to www.iafr.org and click the sign up link) for more details!
Most of the IAFR team converged on Minnesota for a few days to retreat together this past week. It was a rich time of reconnecting, worship and learning. I am so grateful to be part of this amazing fellowship of the Highway.
One of the challenges of pioneering a new organization or starting a new business is the need to wear many different hats.
Earlier this month I put on my geek hat as I migrated IAFR’s email accounts from one service provider to another. The trick in doing something like that is to pull it off without losing too many emails along the way.
I was on a big learning curve, but pushed the button and migrated everything over the July 4th holiday. There were a few bumps, but nothing too serious was lost in the process.
Perhaps the most painful bump was related to one of our most important email accounts – email@example.com – through which donors contact us as well as our missionaries concerning all things related to funding. We seem to have lost about a week’s worth of email between 3 – 10 July.
I feel pretty helpless in ever being able to recover those emails and I truly hope no serious issues result from it.
The good news is that everything is running smoothly again.
I want to give Microsoft for Nonprofits a big shoutout as they accepted us into their nonprofit program and are giving us Microsft Office 365 and email services at significantly discounted prices. It is an unbelievable service to young growing nonprofits like IAFR!
I can’t let this day pass without thanking people like you that have encouraged, prayed for and supported IAFR during our first 10 years of ministry!
We registered as a nonprofit in Minnesota on 30 June 2009. At the time, I was filled with questions concerning where God would take us. All I knew was a clear sense of calling that it was time to establish an international mission designed for ministry in humanitarian space.
I look back today and see God’s fingerprints all over the journey.
How thankful I am to have the privilege of serving refugees since 1980!
I spent the past few days in Toronto meeting with the executive leadership of IAFR Canada. We meet face to face twice annually in order to invest in our relationship, assess progress and challenges, listen to God and confirm our commitment to partnering internationally as we pursue our common mission.
We ended our time together last night gathered in the backyard of one of the board members for a tasty supper of Lebanese kebabs (photo).
It was encouraging to have met some of their new teammates as well as sit in on their board meeting. It is a joy and privilege to be serving together along the Refugee Highway.