The Refugee Church

I just created this 1.5 minute video to use when speaking to an Adult Sunday School Class tomorrow

I’ll be speaking at Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield, MN, tomorrow morning. I’m taking Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera with me as the church asked me to share about the refugee church and Pastor Gatera spent 20 years of his life in Kakuma refugee camp – and many of those years as a refugee pastor. I can think of no better way to introduce them to the refugee church than to give them the privilege of listening to Pastor Gatera.

Canadian Museum of Human Rights

Photo: The long and winding ramps of the Canadian Museum of Human Right take you on an uphill journey through a history of human oppression and crimes against humanity with frequent calls to learn from the past and to treat each other with dignity and respect.

Photo: The museum includes Jesus as a proponent of love and respect for our fellow man.

Walking through the museum felt very up close and personal. I was with a pastor of a local church that is 90% former refugees and a Somali Christian who fled persecution and is hoping to find refuge in Canada. Our Somali friend bought our entry tickets.

It is a walk through darkness and light. It remembers mankind at our worst while calling us to be our best. It is a testimony to our brokenness and exposes our twisted hearts. It awakens hope that we can somehow overcome our bent toward evil.

There are reminders in the daily news that we can still call down darkness and partner with the enemy who is determined to convince us that we no longer bear the image of our Creator.

But we do.

I left with fresh conviction to do what I can to call people into the life-giving kingdom of God within which hearts change and from which darkness flees.

I Am Every Asylum Seeker

This video was produced by IAFR’s team serving refugees in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It was shown this morning during their “Sheltering Hope” Breakfast Fundraiser for our Jonathan House ministry – through which we are partnering with churches to offer shelter and hope to asylum seekers in the Twin Cities.

The Cinq Etoiles

Welcome to the Cinq Etoiles (imagine an accent over the “e”) – or “Five Stars”. That is what those who inhabit this abandoned warehouse call it. They come from war torn and oppressive countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. They are looking for refuge from human-caused humanitarian crisis. They are among the people IAFR is called to serve.

Perhaps the most pressing need in the Five Star is for sanitation. A health crisis is imminent should this basic need continue to be unmet. But winter is soon coming and the lack of heat will soon add to the challenges of surviving in this space.

In most places, the locals would be screaming to get these people out of their neighborhood. But here, they advocate on their behalf. The French neighborhood in which the Five Star is situated recently protested when the government shut off the water to the building. It is remarkable to see them support the 200+ refugees living there. I saw people drop off food. I also saw a man teaching French to refugees. But there is still so much that needs to be done.

As IAFR’s Europe Regional Leader and local Ministry Leader in the city of Lille, Paul Sydnor is working to help these people survive and recover from forced displacement. He is in desperate need of teammates to come and join him in the work. Michael and Heather Jurrens have already joined IAFR to join the ministry in Lille. They’re busy raising support now.

So I have two requests. 1) Please pray with me that God would quickly grow the financial support team for Michael and Heather so they can get over to France soon. 2) Please pray that God would raise up reinforcements to join the work in Lille – preferably some young, faith-filled and fearless women and men of God.

Amen.

Toilets

Photo: the toilets in the “5 Star” Jungle

Everything about this place works together to strip people of their humanity.

200+ human beings live in this abandoned warehouse. They affectionately call it the “5 Star”. It’s anything but that. The smell of urine is strong upon entry. It’s a health disaster waiting to happen.

Paul Sydnor (IAFR) and the team are praying that portable toilets will be provided for these people ASAP. It’s clearly in everyone’s best interest.

We recognize that we might need to be the ones to provide the sanitation. We have no idea how. Still we pray, “Lord Jesus, please provide these people with sanitation- and if possible, please let us participate in your answer to this prayer.”

So be it.

Disasters

Wild fires are consuming the northwest. Hurricane Florence is plowing into the Carolinas. Typhoon Mangkhut is pummeling the Philippines. And Minnesota is dry, warm and breezy.

It would be easy to think all is well, projecting the peace and beauty around me onto others. But we know that isn’t the case.

Bigger than all these natural disasters is the number of people uprooted by human causes – war, violations of human rights, failed states and persecution.

68.5 Million people were forcibly displaced at the beginning of the year. Another 44,400 people have been forced to flee their homes every day since then. It is an unspeakable tragedy and a rampant evil in the world.

It’s easy to look out my window and think all is well. It is not.

The Geek

I didn’t have much of a ministry budget back in the late ’90s when I was serving as Director of Refugee Ministries with International Teams (now One Collective). So I taught myself the basic skills of website design so we could have an online presence.

This skill set has come in handy with IAFR. By serving as website designer, I free up funding for other purposes. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t love to see someone join our team to serve in this capacity. Days like today would have been spent differently if I didn’t have to make a backlog of edits and updates.

I’m sure the right person will come along at the right time. In the meantime, I’ll keep playing the geek.

Click here to check out the IAFR.org site.