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.
Photo: hydro geological survey results
I spent part of the day reading over a hydro-geological survey that ends with this chart pointing to a promising borehole site in Kakuma, Kenya.
This is the crucial step before drilling down over 1 football field deep in hopes of finding plentiful drinkable water.
And that water will ultimately be pumped to an IDP Camp several miles away where over 2000 internally displaced people (mostly women and children) live without a local source of water.
Drilling could start before the year runs out! What a wonderful end to the year!
Click here to learn more about this project!
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
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.
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.
Graph: IAFR growth in terms of missionaries
I spent much of Friday preparing for our upcoming Annual Board Meeting in September. While our board meets monthly via video conferencing, Our annual board meeting is when we all gather together in the same space for a day.
I was encouraged as I updated this graph and reflected on the relatively rapid growth we’ve experienced in recent years. It is especially remarkable as we have not recruited anyone! Every one of our teammates somehow managed to find us on their own. Rumor has it that God is involved in directing people to join our team.
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.
One of our teammates hit the wall today. Support just hasn’t come together as quickly as hoped and the ability to pay their fixed expenses this month was put in question.
Financial pressure like that can stretch faith to breaking point. Not in a way that causes one to walk away from God – but the temptation is certainly there to walk away from the ministry. Stepping out of the business world into the world of support raising is not for the fainthearted.
In times like this, it is good to call to mind the reality that God is the provider for both businessman and missionary. The means and system of provision may be different – but that’s all they are. God himself is our provider.
It was good to pray together with my teammate today. I’ve been there before (and may be there again) – so my prayer was fueled by empathy. It was good to hear of some ways that God was beginning to provide before I left the office this evening.
Thank you, our ever Faithful Provider.
To all those readers who actively support me or other IAFR missionaries, I want to close with a word of deep appreciation. Thank you!
For a long time I felt as if feeding birds was a bit wasteful and extravagant. My understanding of Matthew 6:26 was that there was no need for me to feed birds because God was already clearly taking care of that.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
But the more I read my Bible, the more my head began to understand what my heart already knew. God’s default means of providing for his creation (including us) is through someone else. It’s all over Scripture.
When Israel was forced to flee to Egypt because of terrible famine, God met their needs through Joseph. When God responded to the desperate cries of Israel as they suffered under oppression and slavery in Egypt, God rescued them by raising up Moses. When David was a refugee, hiding from King Saul in desert caves, God sent him encouragement through Jonathan. When Israel had resigned itself to life in the ruins of Jerusalem, God sent Nehemiah to restore hope and vision (and the city walls). These are just a few examples of how God provides and rescues us – through others.
Back to the birds… I believe Jesus famous quote (above) includes the underlying assumption that God responds to the basic needs of birds – and so should we. Look at it this way. We can participate in the provision of God for others – even birds – if we are so inclined.
So when I fill my bird feeders, I consider it both an act of worship and an act of partnering with God in his concern for the least of these. How much deeper the joy when partnering with God in meeting the needs of my fellow man.
There is no greater privilege than participating with God in his unilateral acts of love toward the world he so loves.
That’s why I feed the birds.
I suppose I should also mention that when Elijah was hungry and losing heart, God fed him – through birds 🙂