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.
Meetings upon meetings. It’s been good to be here in Geneva for the UN Consultations. It’s helpful to hear the perspectives of the UN and some of the big players on the Refugee Highway. I’ve had some good personal encounters as well between meetings.
Today the former director of the Red Cross in Ethiopia gave me a gift bag with a large container of Ethiopian honey and Ethiopian coffee beans (best coffee on the planet). Amazing hospitality and kindness.
The Ethiopian Relief an development agency on whose board he now sits would like IAFR to see some of their work and explore opportunities for partnership. I told him that we are stretched pretty thin at the moment and can’t expand – but hopefully we will increase our capacity in the future to take him up on his offer.
Heading to Geneva, Switzerland, today for the annual UN Refugee Agency’s NGO Consultations is his week.
I will be wearing my Ambassadors for Refugees hat (World Evangelical Alliance). I’m especially looking forward to a day of meetings related to partnering with leaders from the refugee and host communities. That is one of IAFR’s sweet spots and I think we have some meaningful contributions to make.
Please pray for me and my IAFR colleague Tim Barnes as we participate in these meetings.
LEAVING THE TABLE
We sat around a table representing expertise and networks related to Human Rights, Humanitarian Response, Creation Care, Peacemaking and Reconciliation, Strategic Diplomacy, Refugees and more. We discovered that our work often overlaps and that there is a need for interdisciplinary responses to these issues. We leave and go our separate ways today with the seeds of collaboration sown. I look forward to seeing what springs to life because we came together this week.
CHALLENGED & ENCOURAGED
I leave feeling the challenge to dream and pursue bigger dreams. I leave encouraged to find brothers and sisters eager to work together in creative new ways.
That’s pretty general, so let me give an example or two… In talking with Chris (Creation Care), we identified the real possibility of helping establish a solar power grid to one of the refugee camps in which IAFR is serving. In talking with Wissam (Human Rights, Geneva), we may have found a way to influence the system so that churches (and other faith communities) might finally get plots on which to build houses of worship in a refugee settlement that presently offers no place for such structures.
Now it’s time to train back to NYC and fly back to our respective homes to continue the work.
Thanks to Christine MacMillan, Timothy Goropevsek, Rebecca Olsavska, Wissam al-Saliby, Chris Elisara, Ed Brown, David Boan, Christopher Chou, Michael Mutzner, Albert Hengelaar, Johannes Reimer, Ruth Zhou, Jason Clarke and Deb Fikes for making the time so valuable!
We started the day reflecting on Philippians 2 and moved on into discussions about furthering the kingdom of God together with his church through humanitarian service, creation care, refugee engagement, human rights work, advocacy, peace and reconciliation work and diplomacy. It is encouraging to be together with brothers and sisters who God has called to serve in these ways. The world God loves needs the church to fully engage the issues of our days.