An unexpected visit

Photo: Bruce and Janet McNicol with Donna and I today sitting on our “Wes and Judy Roberts Memorial Sofa”.

We got an unexpected text last night. Bruce and Janet McNicol were in town and wanted to see if we were free to connect. Indeed we were.

It was really good to reconnect with them in our home this afternoon.

We were first introduced to each other by our friend Wes Roberts sometime between 1995-1996. Bruce was working on some life-changing training with Bill Thrall and John Lynch. They had founded the Leadership Catalyst. Ascent of a Leader, TrueFaced and The Cure are a few of the books they’ve published over the years. The Heart of Man movie 🍿 is a penetrating expression of some of their work (although is wont be easy for you, you MUST see it! – it’s available on Netflix).

Bruce is one of the few men who have left a permanent mark on my life for good. I’m not the same person I was because our lives crossed back then. Thank God.

I hope God has graced your life with a Bruce too.

Friendship

Photo: Stephen and Tim heading into the sunrise to find breakfast this morning

I’m thankful for the chance to have had breakfast with Tim Barnes and Stephen Freed this morning. They are two of the finest people and leaders I’ve served with in my 38 years of ministry.

Friendship is essential to life.

Lunch with Gatera

Photo: Pastor Gatera in Kakuma refugee camp

I had a long overdue lunch with my friend and IAFR colleague, Pastor Gatera. We first met when he was pastoring a refugee church in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya). He now lives less than a 15 minute drive from my office in Minneapolis.

We spoke of family, leadership, theology and ministry (both in the US and in Kakuma).

He shared how he has spent his life immersed in multicultural settings. His ministry has always been interdenominational in nature. His posture is always of a learner.

His calling is clear. He has a vision to help strengthen interdenominational associations of churches in refugee contexts. Refugee churches play a life-saving role in keeping hope alive in desperate places. But they get very little support and encouragement from the church-at-large – much less from a highly respected Christian leader who spent 20 years in a refugee camp himself.

He is in the early months of support raising. He needs help developing a network of financial partners.

Would you pray with me that God would raise up a circle of generous donors to release him into ministry? He needs about $5500/month.

Click here to donate to his ministry today!

A friend in need

I keep in touch with a few of my friends in refugee camps through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

One of them reached out to me asking for prayer as she is very sick. She sent me this photo of her laying on the floor of her shelter with her husband reading the Koran over her. She wrote:

“I am so sick and weak. I am praying to Allah so that I can get healthy again.”

We have met many times and she has blessed me with hospitality and honest conversations. She often requests prayer and welcomes my offers to pray for her in Jesus’ name.

I have often told her how the Bible reveals to us that God is near and not far away – and that he sees and hears and cares deeply for us.

I count it a privilege to pray for her and ask that you would join with me. Let’s pray that God would graciously heal her body and restore her strength. Let’s also pray that God would reveal to her the depth and breadth of his love for her. In Jesus’ name.

Communion

We ended the 2018 IAFR Missionary Conference tonight with a time of sharing, singing and communion together. It was a rich few days together in a beautiful setting. I come away with deep gratitude for the privilege of serving with these brothers and sisters.

We break camp tomorrow to head back to our various ministry locations.

A surprise reunion

I last saw him about 3 years ago while visiting Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi. So you can imagine how surprised I was to bump into Anthony at church this morning. I had not heard that he and his family were resettled to the US – much less to St. Paul, Minnesota, a couple of months ago.

Anthony is originally from DR Congo’s volatile eastern provinces. Last I knew, over 2 million people had been forced to flee the country. They have been scattered all over Africa and the world.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for Anthony to move from a forgotten refugee camp’s mud houses without running water and electricity to downtown St. Paul – in winter.

But refugees are defined by being people on the run – people on the move. So Anthony seems to have taken his latest move in stride, as if transcontinental moves were normal.

Now he’s looking for a job that will pay their bills. Fortunately, Anthony worked hard to learn English and can speak it well. That will help. But the transition will still not be quick or easy.

A family from our church had already invited him to their home for lunch. Wow. That is the church at its best. And it is an important offer of new friendship and community for Anthony, without which it is nearly impossible to recover from forced displacement.