I’m at a retreat center 30 minutes south of the Twin Cities this week, meeting with the executive leadership of IAFR Canada 🇨🇦 We call the meetings of IAFR executive leadership from the US and Canada our International Round Table (IRT).
They are in the final stages of establishing their organizational systems and will soon be ready to fully engage in ministry among refugees internationally.
While IAFR Canada is an autonomous mission agency, we share a common mission and operations values – so we work closely together toward that end.
While there is a lot of confusion and debate going on in the world concerning refugees, it is good to be together this week working on ways that bring hope and solutions to our uprooted friends.
We are up close and personal with refugees and asylum seekers in many parts of the world and we can testify that there is no need to fear them. There is good reason to partner with them in finding solutions to their displacement. That is where we are putting our time and energy.
One of today’s challenges was to get legal counsel concerning how we process applications for housing in the shelter ministry we operate for asylum seekers in the Twin Cities. Things are often not as simple as they first appear.
I’m thankful for the excellent leadership of Sarah Miller, our local Ministry Leader. I’m also thankful for the wisdom and perspective of Jenn Urban, our legal consultant at Legal for Good on such issues.
My dad gave me a love for the out of doors and adventure. Several years ago, my older brother gave me this motorcycle. I leveraged these gifts on this blue sky Saturday and went for a 200 mile ride to where the St. Croix River meets the mighty Mississippi on the Minnesota – Wisconsin border and turns into Lake Pepin – a big lake lined by limestone bluffs over which Bald Eagles and Turkey Buzzards love to soar.
Donna was behind me all the way, riding on what we call “the back porch”. We soaked it up as we rolled through the winding hills. Green forests, sparkling lakes and burning sunshine spoke fresh peace to our hearts and minds. I’m thankful for a day of rest.
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.