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.

Leaders

Leaders need encouragement and support.

I spent a good part of this week meeting with IAFR leaders for that purpose – and to discuss priorities for the coming year.

I am thankful for Paul who supports our ministry leaders in Europe, and Jake who supports our ministry leaders serving East Africa and Sarah who supports our ministry leaders in the USA. I am also grateful for Rachel, who is focused on developing our refugee ministry training that is an important engine in the movement of God in the world today.

They do not get paid more to take on leadership responsibility. The idea of working for money isn’t a concern they have. They lead and serve because of a deeply rooted burden that demands that they do so. They are pursuing a mission and a vision, not a paycheck or notoriety.

There are not many people like them.

It is a joy and privilege to serve and support them as we pursue our common calling.

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

Packing up

It’s that time again. I head out to visit my friends in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya) this week.

One nice thing about the semi desert there is that it helps me pack light 🙂 Daily highs there are presently hovering around 100 F. Meanwhile back here I watched the snow falling out our window while packing today…

Follow the trip at https://kenya.iafr.org

Photo: 2 weeks worth of stuff to pack

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!

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.

The IAFR Team (2018)

Photo: IAFR Conference group photo from this afternoon

What a joy and privilege to be serving forcibly displaced people with these remarkable brothers and sisters! Sadly, a few of our folks weren’t able to make it for the photo.

25

Photo: The 1st IAFR Missionary Conference in 2013


It’s the calm before the storm. 25 IAFR missionaries are gathering this week for our 4 day annual conference. I make my first airport pick up tomorrow morning.

We held our first annual conference outside of London just 5 years ago. All 4 of our full time missionaries were there.

We welcome your prayers as we spend time listening to God, sharpening our ministry skills, and having fun together.

We have set aside Tuesday evening to take time for lament together. Our mission field is wherever people are flowing out of the deep unhealed wounds in the world. We all carry heavy stories and have seen a lot of suffering. It is good to bring this to Jesus as a community. He is acquainted with grief. He will meet us there.

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.

Leadership development

Once a month I bring IAFR Regional Leaders together via online video conferencing to give ministry updates, share learning and strengthen basic leadership skills. We will focus on strategic planning this morning.

I’m thankful for the regional leadership provided by Paul Sydnor (Europe), Sarah Miller (USA) and Jake Tornga (East Africa) as they support our teams and ministries in these areas of the world. Rachel Uthmann also joins our monthly conference calls as she serves as IAFR US Director of Church Training – a service that benefits all IAFR regions.

We expect a lot from these leaders. The health and effectiveness of our missionaries and ministry locations is directly linked to them.  And so we must intentionally encourage and develop their capacities.

I thank God for the faithful financial and prayer partners that support our leadership.