IRT

Photo: Sunrise in Minnesota today

I’m at a retreat center 30 minutes south of the Twin Cities this week, meeting with the executive leadership of IAFR Canada πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 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.

Look out world 🌎

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.

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.

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.

Displaced in Thailand

She was born into a Christian family in Pakistan. She was kidnapped by a relative and sold as a 16 year old bride to an older Muslim man. After too many years she finally found a way to escape. She is now a refugee in Thailand.

Can you help her?”

That was why the person called my office this morning. She knows the young woman and wants to find a way to help her to safety and a place in which she can begin to rebuild her broken life.

Although the United Nations recognizes her as a refugee, Thailand does not. Her life there is tenuous and as a single mother, she is among the most vulnerable refugees.

I reached out to two Christian leaders that I know who have trusted connections in Thailand. Perhaps they can help this sister survive while there. I also reached out to a Christian leader in Brazil, as his country is among those to which refugees can be resettled. Many churches in Brazil are exemplary in their active concern for refugees.

And I connected with the IAFR Canadian office to see if they knew of a church or network that might be willing to sponsor this sister to Canada. There are few countries that offer a private refugee sponsorship option as does Canada.

We prayed together before hanging up. We know that God alone can help this sister and single mother find refuge. So be it.

…..

The caller met me way back in the early 2000’s. We had completely lost touch. An old copy of The Map of the Refugee Highway brought my name to mind as she was searching for a Christian agency that might be able to help with this situation. I glad she found us. I hope and pray that God gives us the privilege of participating with him in answering our sister’s cry for help.

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.