Photo: This morning’s speaker (Dr. Sam George, Lausanne Movement) at the COMIBAM gathering
It’s been a rich couple of days here in Costa Rica. I’ve been so impressed with how God is moving in churches and missions in Latin America concerning refugees.
I’ve met with a guy who has networked with Christians from Panama to Canada to help the church show up in the lives of refugees and migrants on the move in Central America.
I’ve reconnected with a friend from Brazil who leads a ministry that serves refugees in the country, assists refugees with resettlement to Brazil and that is serving refugees in the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia.
I heard how a mission in Argentina has a vision “One Church, One Family” that is connecting churches with refugee families in ways that offer a welcome, extend community, and assistance with integration.
…and that is just a small sample of what these brothers and sisters are doing.
I had the privilege of speaking last night about the unique role of the church in helping refugees survive and recover from forced displacement. I’ve also been give 4x 1 hour small group sessions to introduce the work of IAFR, the Refugee Highway Partnership and World Evangelical Alliance to folks here as resources to support them as they seek the welfare of refugees.
Can you tell I’m encouraged?
I spent a good part of today trying to trim everything that I could say down to what I can say in 45 minutes (including translation).
I found pencil and notepad more helpful in the creative process than keyboard and monitor.
I know I still need to do some trimming before heading to San Jose on Wednesday morning. I speak Thursday evening. Prayers welcome 🙏🏻
A Tooth Story 🦷
I also went to the dentist to get my permanent crown set into place today. The procedure was a bit more challenging than anyone anticipated as the temporary crown did not want to leave my mouth. Once they got it extracted, the permanent crown didn’t want to go in. A lot of whirring and buzzing and sanding down a neighboring wisdom tooth was needed before it finally agreed to take up its place. My mouth is still recovering.
I took advantage of a chilly Sunday afternoon and prepared a few key slides for my Spanish-speaking audience later this week in Costa Rica.
I’m thankful for the help I got from Eldon Porter as he (or someone he knows) sent me the translation of the words we use on the IAFR Continuum of Response- a tool we created to help assess refugee contexts and develop ministry strategies to help people survive and recover from forced displacement.
I’m looking forward to the gathering of Latin American Missions (COMIBAM) this week. I hope my plenary talk and opportunities to consult with our brothers and sisters there will prove encouraging and helpful.
It’s been bothering me for a while – IAFR’s social media presence has been pretty weak. While not an end in itself, social media is an powerful free resource to raise awareness of refugee realities and create hope that God is at work in the midst of human vulnerability and suffering.
I started posting more regular updates to the IAFR Facebook account a couple of weeks ago (www.facebook.com/refugeeministry). This week I resurrected the IAFR Instagram account (@IAFRefugees). It’s encouraging to see our list of followers quickly growing.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to follow IAFR on Facebook and Instagram – and encourage your friends to do the same.
I’m praying that IAFR will find a person with the passion and ability to run our social media, but until we find that person, I will do what I can to keep it going.
I was starting to experience inconsistent light readings and shutter issues, so it was time to bit the bullet and get a new camera. I look forward to learning how recent advances in camera design and functionality will improve my ability to help you and others see the refugee highway up close and personal.
Images like the one on the header of this blog play an essential role in helping those who support and pray for the work of IAFR to understand the contexts in which we serve. In this way, my camera serves as an eye to the refugee highway.
I am the chief photographer and publications department of IAFR and I look forward to seeing how this new friend (photo) will capture honest and captivating images that document stories of human suffering and resilience in our times.
As you probably know, cameras are not cheap. If you would like to help cover the costs of this Sony a7 III, just make a special donation to IAFR designated for “Tom Albinson”. Click here to donate online now.
I took a few experimental photos this weekend. Lots to learn, but I am very happy with what this camera is able to capture. I am looking forward to taking it on my upcoming visit to our team in France in September and then to Kakuma in October. In the meantime, I will keep learning and practicing…
Above: Motorcycle on Main Street. Henderson, MN.
Above: A backyard sunflower (planted by a bird) struggles to cope with the droughtAbove: Minnesota native wild sunflowers appear to be taking flight in our backyardAbove: A late bloomer in its glory (backyard)
When they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. -Exodus 4:31 (NLT)
This truth is at the heart of the gospel – the life-giving good news from God. This truth transformed an oppressed and enslaved people thousands of years ago. I lean on this truth every day as I serve people on the refugee highway. God sees, God hears and God cares.
A few years ago a young lawyer was serving as director of social media with IAFR. Although he does not identify himself as a Christian, he was eager to help us and our mission.
We were having lunch together one day when he asked why I am not completely burned out. I told him it is because God is alive and well – active and engaged in the lives of forcibly displaced people.
I’ll never forget his reply. “Believing that would change everything.”
I’m writing an article on How God is at work among forcibly displaced people for the New Urban World Journal of the Urban Shalom Society. I’m connected with them and their work through my Ambassador role with World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
While I find writing hard work, I also find it to be a helpful discipline as it forces me to put words on issues and convictions.
My hope is that this article might be used to create new space in the hearts and minds of people for refugees. I believe that this is among the most important challenges of this decade, during which many societies have begun to perceive refugees as a threat to their well-being rather than vulnerable people in need of safety.
I suspect that writing will become an increasingly important part of my ministry in coming years.
A ministry called Sparkhouse just released a small group discussion resource that helps people explore refugee realities and how Christians and Churches are engaging with refugees.
I was pleased to have been among the people interviewed for the companion video series that offers several 10 minute segments offering insights into a specific aspect of this controversial issue.
I recommend it. More info at Sparkhouse.
“I’m interested in a conversation with someone in leadership with IAFR about ways that [our] International [mission agency] may be of service in refugee ministry on a global level.”
We received this request via email today from the Director of Strategic Initiatives at a well-known international mission agency. We look forward to talking with them soon.
I also received an invitation today to speak at a large gathering of mission leaders from Latin America meeting in Mexico this November. They want a better understanding of the global refugee crisis and to explore ways that they can get more involved in ministry along the refugee highway – both in Latin America and beyond.
I’ve also been invited to join the Turkey Region of the Refugee Highway Partnership when they gather in November. Sadly, I can’t afford to go to both Turkey and Mexico in November – so I have decided on Mexico.
Earlier this week, Paul Sydnor, IAFR Europe Regional Leader, told me that he has been invited to South Korea to offer some refugee ministry training to churches there. There are apparently a few thousand refugees from Yemen in South Korea today.
And we’ve got about 30 people signed up to participate in our online webinar tomorrow (12 July) that will offer a Biblical Perspective of Forced Displacement. Click here if you would like to register and participate in this free 1:00 PM webinar.
I’m encouraged to see a growing number of Christians, churches and mission agencies wanting to engage with refugees and asylum seekers. I’m glad that IAFR is here to help!
The UN Refugee Agency Annual NGO Consultations are over. It was good to bring a faith-based (Christian) presence and voice to the gathering.
The workshop dedicated to the role of faith in humanitarian response strongly confirmed the UN’s respect and appreciation for faith based communities and their unique contributions to helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.
I look forward to reading this new book published with the intent to help secular agencies understand how to partner with local faith based communities. While it is clear that we do not always understand each other, we can still appreciate and value the contributions each brings to humanitarian crises.