Tom Albinson has been serving refugees full-time since 1981. He founded IAFR in 2009.
Over the years, Tom has provided leadership and ministry support to teams serving forcibly displaced people in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, New Zealand, Sudan, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.
In 2013, Tom was appointed by World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) to serve as Ambassador for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless People. Tom is an active founding member of the Refugee Highway Partnership - a growing international network of churches and Christian agencies serving refugees and forcibly displaced people.
Tom graduated from Taylor University in 1980 with a B.A. in Social Work. He has since studied some theology at Wheaton Graduate School and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also taken courses in the Leadership Studies graduate program of Azusa Pacific University. But he has learned most from the forcibly displaced people with whom he has worked over the years.
Tom was based in Austria from 1981-2003. Tom and his wife, Donna, have been married since 1985. They have two children and live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Kelsey graduated from Gordon College in 2017 where she earned a degree in social work. During her time she also studied peace and conflict with an emphasis in community transformation. Through her course work in policy, and mediation, she became passionate about conflict management, peacemaking and reconciliation, and working with displaced people.
After traveling to Europe as an exchange student in 2014, she returned a few years later with a new found curiosity for working with refugees and asylees. While studying in Italy she spent time engaging with displaced people at Il Soggiorno refugee center in Rome where she was compelled by the people she met and the stories she heard. In particular, she found herself amazed by the way she saw God crossing social boundaries, and stepping personally into the lives of forcefully displaced people. When she returned to the U.S. she began working with the Greater Boston Refugee Ministry to implement different models of housing in the Boston area, but remained passionate about the refugee crisis in Europe.
Kelsey continues to grow in her desire to see more just and welcoming communities for those forced to flee their homes, and believes the church plays an integral role in mobilizing followers of Jesus to create these spaces of peace. She is hopeful that communities of peace and thriving can exist despite the deep suffering that pervades the lives of refugees. Her love for refugees, and the Muslim world in particular is ever growing, and she is excited to be serving with IAFR in their work of helping people recover from forced displacement.
Pastor Jean Pierre Gatera is Burundian by birth. He spent 20 years of his life in Kakuma refugee camp in remote northwestern Kenya.
Pastor Gatera pastored a refugee church in Kakuma for 10 years. He also served as the chairman of a diverse association of churches from within the refugee camp and surrounding host community for over a decade, during which time the association grew from 21 to over 83 churches. He also taught for many years at the Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission (KISOM). It is through Pastor Gatera and his many networks that IAFR's ministry in Kakuma began in 2012.
Pastor Gatera is passionate about helping refugees overcome the many challenges of resettlement in the US and other countries. He has a special burden to encourage and equip refugee Christians for ministry in refugee camps as well as in countries of resettlement. He has a special calling to encourage and strengthen interdenominational associations of refugee churches within refugee camps, believing that God seeks to use the refugee church to further his kingdom in a mighty way around the world.
While a refugee, Pastor Gatera earned a Diploma in Missions from the Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission (KISOM) and a Bachelors degree in Theology from Global University. He also earned certificates in Bible Training for Pastors, Don Bosco Vocational Training, Trauma Care, Conflict Transformation, Leadership Training, Peace Building, Pastoral Training and Million Leaders Mandate.
Pastor Gatera and his wife and three children were resettled from Kenya to the US in 2016.
Shanna Doughty developed a love for refugees while teaching English at the Family Refugee Camp in Hal-Far, Malta, from 2008-2010. She served the local church in Malta for four years as a missionary with Greater Europe Mission. Upon returning to her home state of Colorado in 2010, she volunteered as a cultural mentor for refugees through Denver Rescue Mission before re-locating to Madison, WI in 2011. While in Madison, she completed her B.S. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership, worked for 3 years at a local non-profit, and most recently served with InterVarsity on the Operations Team for the Urbana Student Missions Conference. It was at Urbana that Shanna sensed God was calling her to live among and advocate for the refugee community.
It is the call to live among refugees and to do so in multi-ethnic community that has drawn Shanna to Colorado. Her cross-cultural experience has provided her with opportunities to listen to the stories of others. She has seen the shadow of hopelessness woven through the stories of forced displacement, seeking legal status, resettlement and an attempt to create a new life in a foreign country that is not always welcoming.
Shanna, along with her husband and two children, live in northern Colorado. It is their desire to see hope renewed through restoration and reconciliation.
Click here to learn more about IAFR ministry in Colorado.
In 2014, after a 21 year career in public service, the Farmers sold everything and moved to West Asia, where they now serve with IAFR helping refugees build personal capacity through education, business and livelihood development projects.
Their work endeavors to reflect the love of Jesus Christ by providing education, training and dignified employment opportunities that will catalyze economic, social, environmental and spiritual transformation in the refugee communities they serve. Over the years they have held leadership roles in a range of organizations that helped equip them for their work with IAFR today.
Mr. Farmer holds life science and agriculture degrees from Texas A&M University, as well as two masters degrees in his areas of expertise. Mrs. Farmer earned her Bachelor of Science in Education at Liberty University, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Counseling.
The Farmers dated for two weeks before getting married… that was 21 years ago! They have two daughters at university, and another in high school. Together as a family they have lived in 23 homes across 8 U.S. states and 3 foreign countries.
As a long-time staff member at her church, most recently in the role of Refugee Care Coordinator, Lauren has had the opportunity to engage the transformation of her city in unique ways. She has witnessed Jesus bringing light into the darkness of prison, taught yoga to women recovering from exploitation and enslavement, and offered renewed meaning and hope through her church’s recovery ministry. These experiences have born in her a deep love for those who are hurting and lost.
Lauren is enthusiastic about building cross-cultural relationships, and has had a strong desire to connect with people from around the world since she began traveling as a child. When she got the chance to welcome a young refugee family from the Middle East and meet with them weekly for tea and friendship, she knew she would be seeking opportunities to connect with refugees for years to come.
Over the last four years, Lauren has partnered with World Relief in Malawi, joining a team in the Salima district as they equip and engage local churches through the development of Church Empowerment Zones. Out of a growing passion to strengthen and mobilize the local church back home, and with the power of the CEZ model in mind, she was led to create the Refugee Church Alliance of Central Florida. Comprising six churches at its inception, this alliance is committed to the holistic care of resettled refugee families through collaboration and partnership across denominations.
Lauren is eager to encourage a spirit of hospitality in a world where fewer doors are remaining open to the displaced, and she desires to see hope renewed as God joins together his multi-cultural family.
Lauren is currently raising support as she follows her desire to partner with the Italian church in bringing compassion and hope to refugees.
IAFR recognizes that refugee churches are uniquely situated to identify the needs of forcibly displaced people. They are well aware of the challenges and opportunities related to their context and often have clear vision and a compelling sense of mission. IAFR looks for opportunities to help refugee churches accomplish their mission.
Photo: A refugee church praying in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.
As followers of Jesus are to be marked by hospitality to foreigners, local churches are called to be communities that welcome refugees. Their knowledge of the local language, culture, resources, and laws make them well-suited to helping displaced people integrate into their new society. The refugee crisis desperately needs churches to show up in ways that further hope, healing, and reconciliation in the world.
Photo: An IAFR partner church in Minnesota sending their greetings to refugee churches in Kenya.
Relationships of trust form the basis for all that we do. IAFR develops long lasting relationships with refugee churches and like-minded partners from which projects come and go. Our commitment to these relationships continues long after projects are completed.
Photo: IAFR missionary, Sharon Tonzo, visiting with a resettled refugee family in Atlanta.
Refugees are more than people in need. They are among the world's most resilient and resourceful people. Yes, we need to help them, but we also have much to learn from them. IAFR ministries promotes mutual blessing in all we pursue.
Photo: A short-term missionary sharing smiles with a refugee sister in Dzaleka refugee camp, Malawi.
The challenges and needs facing forcibly displaced people are overwhelming. No single agency has all it takes to meet these needs.
We compliment existing ministries and partner with refugees as well as like-minded churches and agencies, believing that we can accomplish more together than we can on our own.
Photo: Our US partner (Wheaton College) offering theological and trauma care training to our refugee partner in Kenya (United Refugee and Host Churches).
We are committed to demonstrating respect and affirming the dignity of forcibly displaced people. IAFR publications and media will represent them in honest, respectful and non-exploitive ways. We share IAFR publications, photos, videos, etc. with those featured in order to confirm that they feel respected and appropriately represented.
Photo: US church leaders listening to a refugee church leader in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.
IAFR ministries and projects draw from resources available in the host country whenever possible. We seek to strengthen local economies and avoid creating dependencies upon foreign economies.
Photo: Pastors in Kakuma, Kenya, sharing their joy upon receiving a fresh shipment of Bibles. The Bibles were purchased from the Bible Society in Kenya.