Making new friends

Photo: IAFR’s Pastor Gatera speaking to a diverse group of pastors and people engaged in ministry among refugees in St. Cloud, MN

IAFR Board member, Pastor Brian Doten, set up a meeting with Calvary Community Church Outreach Pastor, Steve Eckert, in St. Cloud with a group of people there that are engaged in ministry among resettled refugees.

They invited Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera and I to introduce him and the work of IAFR to the group.

It was an encouraging Saturday afternoon together. There appears to be a good possibility for some ministry partnerships to grow out of the time together.

We are praying that meetings like this will help form the support team needed to partner with Pastor Gatera in his ministry. He is a remarkable leader – both gifted and experienced. I can’t wait to see him more fully released into the vision God has given him.

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!

Strengthening refugee churches

Photo: Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera

We sat at a table in a Caribou Coffee Shop (neither of us drinking coffee). I gave him an update from my recent trip to Kakuma refugee camp where he lived for 20 years. We talked of how to strengthen the union of 157 refugee churches with whom we partner there so that they develop the organizational capacity to manage large and complex projects and programs of which they are dreaming.

I asked him how his recent trip to Denver went. A Sudanese church recently flew him out there to consult with them. Several of the church leaders were formerly refugees in Kakuma and had gone through the Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission (KISOM) run by the refugee church union. They were desperate for his advice concerning what it takes to be a recognized church with licensed clergy here in the US. They also had questions about how to navigate US Christian culture, much of which is in tension with their understanding of Christian faith and life style. Several members sought him out for marital counseling as well.

Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera listened and consulted with them non stop before boarding his flight back to Minnesota. They said they need him to return again soon.

There are other refugee churches in the US wanting his counsel as well. One is in Fargo, one in Iowa and another in Missouri. The need is great.

We talked about opening a Zoom account for him to offer regular online meetings with refugee churches.

Pastor Gatera joined IAFR last fall and is presently working full time cleaning office buildings. We’re praying with him that he will develop a team of financial partners to make it possible for him to devote himself full time to the ministry.

I left the Caribou with a grateful heart to have the privilege of working alongside Pastor Gatera as he pursues his calling.

Refugee pastor

So happy that Northwood Community Church (Maple Grove, MN) invited Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera to speak during their worship services today!

Pastor Gatera spent 20 years in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. While there, Gatera was the point person for IAFR’s partnership with an association of refugee churches called United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC).

In 2017, Pastor Gatera joined to serve full time with IAFR. He is presently focused on building a team of financial partners.

Just let me know if you’d like to meet Pastor Gatera or if you are interested in financially partnering with him.