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
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!
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.
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.
Falingi (above with flag in hand) became an American today along with 731 other people from 81 different countries of origin.
This is a big deal, because Falingi has been a refugee for most of his life. Unchecked violence made his homeland uninhabitable. As he was without parents, his uncle took him into his family. I met them over 10 years ago in Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi – among the world’s poorest nations.
Dzaleka was a political prison before it was turned into a refugee camp in 1994 (in response to a wave of refugees fleeing genocide in Rwanda). Life is hard in Dzaleka.
Above: Dzaleka refugee camp. There are 40,000 Falingis in Dzaleka today.
This is why refugee resettlement to countries like the USA is so important. It offers people like Falingi a chance to regain place in the world and rebuild his life.
It is a travesty that the US has slashed refugee resettlement numbers from an average of 75,000/year to just 18,000 this year.
I spoke with several of the new US citizens today. They were so happy and so proud. Like Falingi, they want to work hard and be a net contributor to society.
In there eyes I saw an America that gave me hope and inspiration.
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.
I met Henry Crosby today. He’s the Sr. Director of Social Responsibility at the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities this morning. We met at the Y’s Equity and Innovation Center in downtown Minneapolis. A friend from a past church brought us together. I’m glad she did.
I was so impressed with Henry and the Y’s Equity Center. God knows our city needs the kind of services they offer with the aim of bringing people together. I really appreciate the heart, passion and humility of the Y’s staff.
The Y’s New Americans program is an initiative that is helping refugees and asylum seekers and other migrants find their feet and their place in our society. I’m hoping our local Jonathan House residents will one day benefit from some of their programs!
I discovered that Henry lives near my childhood home in Golden Valley! We’re around the same age so we took a brief detour down memory lane talking about a place in which we share history. Once again Inexperienced how shared place is a powerful connecting force between people.
Sone unlikely threads came together today – a friend from a former church, Golden Valley and a concern for the welfare of displaced people. That was special. And it just might lead to mutual blessing down the road.
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.