Fuel ⛽️

I end this day with a heart filled with gratitude for our generous IAFR partners – individuals, churches, businesses and foundations – that make this ministry possible.

IAFR is a vehicle helping people survive and recover from forced displacement. And our partners are the ones putting fuel in the tank so we can show up along the Refugee Highway in life-giving ways.

KISOM update

Photo: The Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission (KISOM) building project today

Nicholas Gagai, a Kenyan serving full time with our refugee partner in Kakuma refugee camp, sent me the above photo last week via Facebook. It is encouraging to see the KISOM building rising out of the semi desert at long last. Everything looks on schedule to complete this phase of building before the end of the year.

Nicholas serves as the director of KISOM. IAFR has been helping him and the school strengthen their curriculum when it comes to theology and trauma care. Wheaton College and it’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute have been partnering with IAFR to assist KISOM.

IAFR is putting a lot of time, resources and energy into this part of our work in Kakuma as we believe KISOM plays a critical role in equipping refugee pastors and church leaders. We are thankful to our financial partners who have made it possible!

Photo: the KISOM building project during my visit in 10/2018

So much to do

A message from Europe asking if we can help a refugee ministry in Cyprus…

A call with a person with significant profile and influence in the world of refugees exploring the possibilities of gaining some frontline ministry experience…

An email from Switzerland connecting me with a person at the UN Refugee Agency to whom I sent a report about how churches in Lille, France, are working together to provide shelter and education to minors seeking asylum in the country.

Some initial planning for my next visit to Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp in early 2019…

These are some of the things that I’ve been working on in the past couple of days.

There is so much that needs to be done – and that can be done – to help people survive and recover from forced displacement. The main challenge we face is finding financial partners who will support those ready and willing to serve with us along the Refugee Highway.

Pray with me that God would raise up the missionaries we need AND the financial partners needed to pursue our pressing mission.

Let there be water

Photo: IDP walk miles to fetch water unfit for human consumption

I got word tonight from a partner church that they are taking on the IDP Water Project as their Year end missions project!

We need around $10-25,000 more to have enough to finish this massive project in the semi desert of Kakuma, Kenya.

I love how the supporting church is concerned about what IAFR will do if they raise more than what is needed to complete the project! These are generous people and joyful givers. Beautiful.

I admit that when IAFR launched this project, my faith was weak. The cost estimate quickly went from $18k to $125k as the realities sank in of the costs of finding, pumping and piping water several miles across semi desert.

Yet here we are, on the edge of seeing God answer 10 years of prayer for water from the internally displaced people in Kakuma.

Creating safe space

I’m packed and ready to head to Lille, France. We have a local ministry there that is opening a Centre that will serve as a safe space in which locals and refugees can connect in mutually beneficial ways.

A local French church is renovating a service garage and turning it into a ministry center. IAFR will begin leasing the space to use for refugee ministry in January.

One of the big challenges in the French context is finding spaces in which refugees and locals can meet. This Centre will serve that end.

We’re thankful that local churches see the value of creating this safe space in their community.

A difficult request

Can you send me the names of 5 mission agencies that might be able to help place missionaries from Latin America into ministries among refugees internationally?”

This question was put to me today.

It sounds like an easy question to answer. I wish it was. But the reason I founded IAFR in back in 2009 was because I could not find an international Christian mission agency with a clear commitment to serve refugees and other forcibly displaced people.

I do know of many outstanding local ministries serving refugees. I know of a few refugee ministries with a national scope. But it’s tough to find international missions engaging refugees. YWAM and OM are exceptions.

Of course, there are big Christian humanitarian agencies out there like World Vision and World Relief, but they are not missions in the sense of being missionary sending agencies. They do tremendous work in helping people survive disasters. World Relief does a wonderful job of helping refugees find their feet in the US. But where are other international missions helping the church-at-large engage with refugees in life-giving ways?

My ignorance isn’t for lack of exposure. Through my involvement with the Refugee Highway Partnership (a global network of people, churches and missions serving refugees) and from my role as Ambassador for Refugees with World Evangelical Alliance, I have a pretty good idea of what is out there. And I am hard pressed to come up with 5 names to pass along to my friend.

I’ve heard rumors of a few large missions starting their own refugee ministries. I guess it’s time to take a closer look at this and see if I can come up with 5 to pass along.

Perhaps you know of such a mission? Please let me know as soon as possible! Just leave their name and website in a comment to this blog post.

Skyping Kakuma

Today was punctuated by an email conversation with people in Washington D.C. and Kakuma, Kenya. I’m coordinating a Skype conference call for Sunday morning (at 3 PM in Kenya, 8 AM in D.C. and 7 AM here in Minneapolis).

I am looking forward to seeing our ministry partners in Kakuma and talking with the 5 girls that the D.C. church is sponsoring through high school (in partnership with IAFR). The girls are from South Sudan, Burundi, DR Congo and the IDP camp sheltering over 2000 Kenyans.

The sponsoring church is eager to meet the girls via Skype. I am encouraged that they want to do what they can to personalize the sponsorship.

We’re tentatively planning on having someone from the church join me on my April 2019 visit to Kakuma so they can meet the girls in person – as well as get a first hand look at some of the other IAFR projects that the church is sponsoring.

Assuming everything works according to plan, the girls should start their freshman year in January 2019.

A good Friday

Finally. We set something life-giving in motion – three international transfers of funding made possible by the sacrificial generosity of many people, most of whom will never meet – people who pooled their resources together to joyfully partner with God as he answers the prayers of our displaced brothers and sisters on the other side of the world.

Finally. IAFR sent the funding to our partner agency in Kenya (National Council of Churches Kenya – NCCK) so that…

The KISOM building project can now enter phase one!

The IDP Water Project can get under way!

We also wired the first monthly contribution to our partner refugee agency (URHC) so that they can begin offering ministry support to the Kenyan missionary – Nicholas Gagai – leading their Interdenominational School of Mission and their refugee youth ministry.

Many refugee lives will soon change.

Pastors, evangelists, missionaries and church leaders will have a dedicated safe space in which they can gather for training and equipping for their calling.

Thousands of women, children and men – an entire village of internally displaced people – will have a local supply of clean water! This will greatly improve their health. It will also improve their security as the present 6-7 mile round trip through semi desert bush to fetch dirty water entails many risks. It will also increase their capacity to hope, as God demonstrates that he hears their cries and provides for their needs.

And our faithful brother, Nicholas, serving full-time with our refugee partner organisation, will finally have some regular support to enable him to more fully invest himself in equipping refugee church leaders for ministry and in mentoring refugee youth, encouraging them to live faithful lives serving Jesus. He has been serving for nearly 10 years without any source of regular income. This has taken a toll on his health over the years.

All this was set in motion yesterday. It was a good Friday.