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Each year, the UNHCR publishes the Global Trends ReportThis vital document provides data and statistics* that help give context to the story of forced displacement.  Check out the complete report for the bigger picture!  Meanwhile, here are a few key observations:

1) 2016 was a relatively good year for refugees returning home: 552,000 (approximately 2.5% of the refugee population) were able to do so.  This is a 250% increase from 2015!

2) It was also a good year for refugee resettlement. 189,300 refugees (0.84%) were resettled to new countries. The number was hovering below 1/2 of 1%. 

3) Unfortunately, the overall numbers of Forcibly Displaced People increased by 300,000 to a global total of 65.6 million displaced people.

4) 2,800 people are newly displaced every day. That's 20 people every minute.

5) 51% of the refugee population is under 18 year old, compared to the total world population of 31%.

Of course, these are numbers and statistics.  Each number represents a person, a name, a story.  Thank you for being a champion for hope and recovery for the people behind the numbers!

*Note: The Global Trends Report is the most up-to-date official report, and reflects the data gathered from the most recent calendar year; this edition reports the data for 2016.

-Observations by Tom Albinson, posted by Tim Uthmann

Thanks to Tyndale House Foundation!

Photo: Asylum seeker from Myanmar

Many thanks to Tyndale House Foundation for awarding IAFR a $10,000 grant award to our Jonathan House Project! It is a joy and privilege to partner with them as we help asylum seekers survive and recover from displacement by providing shelter and extending supportive community to them here in the Twin Cities (Minnesota).

In addition to this generous grant, 30 individuals have donated a total of $8,000 towards the initial launch of Jonathan House! We are encouraged as local churches and individuals have embraced this vision and are actively seeking ways to get involved! IAFR has been training and consulting with them as they figure out their part in this movement to seek the welfare of asylum-seekers here.

Prayer Requests

Please pray with us as we are currently working to identify and secure suitable housing options for asylum seekers here. We also welcome your prayers for God to provide the remaining funding we need to cover Jonathan House expenses for the first 18 months ($27,000).

We are eager to see how God will use this ministry in the lives both of asylum seekers and of those of us who partner with them.

-Posted by Sarah Miller

Minimizing Fear

I stared blankly at my friend’s question: “How can we eliminate the risks from immigration and refugees?”  It politely captured what I’ve heard and sensed from so many, especially within the church.  In the absence of a cohesive biblical or theological argument against welcoming forcibly displaced people, fear is driving the debate.  Fear of physical harm; of economic loss; of cultural change. Fear of an uncertain future.

Maybe it’s the wrong question. We can’t completely eliminate risk from welcoming and loving people any more than we can eliminate risk from driving to the store or sitting in a school classroom. Perhaps the real question is how we can recognize the risks and choose to live courageously in spite of them?  What would that look like?

It would probably include learning and understanding the facts.  How many people have fled instability to seek peaceful safety? How has the refugee vetting process worked to maximize security?  How have refugees impacted local economies by starting businesses, spending hard earned dollars, even working to repay the loans for their own resettlement costs?  Did you know that the airfare to resettle a refugee is a loan which must be repaid?  The more we understand, the less scary things become.  (The IAFR toolbox has many educational resources!)

A huge step in reducing the fear is to meet a refugee.  Hear their story.  Share a cup of tea.  Or simply introduce yourself.  We don’t just have 21.3 million refugees in the world; there are 21.3 million people with stories and names traveling the refugee highway. Each time we share life together, it chips away at the walls. When we choose to love someone, we begin to cast fear aside.

Ultimately, followers of Jesus have the best responses to fear. Pray for courage. Grapple with God’s inverted economy. Remember that Yahweh never promised to be safe. Live now in the light of eternity.  Love others as Jesus loves us. As we follow Jesus’s example of embracing us when we were outsiders, I believe the risk of welcoming others will become much more acceptable.

-posted by Rachel Uthmann

Not the rain for which we prayed

A few days after our April visit to Kakuma refugee camp, the heavens opened over the drought-stricken landscape. Although many had been praying for rain, this downpour was not life-giving. Many mud brick refugee shelters and churches were destroyed.

I received this email today from a brother named Etando who served as my translator during a Sunday worship service in the camp last month...

Hello! I greet you in name of jesus christ. i was your interpreter when you are preaching. i am very happy to write to you as my father and my friend in christ. I would like you to send me some verse of bible because I consider you as my father in faith.

It was on Sunday that floodwater came. many houses crumbled including mine. all furniture, matresses, clothes were covered with mud. we did not rescue any things. we thank God because we were saved.

we are like new arrivals again. we are surviving and sleeping on thin mats.

i am married with 5 children. greet your familly.

when will you be here again? Send me any advice from God's word. God bless you. Amen.

Life is hard in a refugee camp. This is one of the many challenges they face as they patiently wait for a solution to their displacement. Faith and supportive relationships play an important role in helping people survive and recover from the multiple traumas that are part of their journey.

IAFR is committed to stand with refugees, including our brothers and sisters, in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya), Dzaleka refugee camp (Malawi) as well as in Europe and North America - where the challenges that they face may be different, but can still be overwhelming.

You can help too. Would you take a minute right now and offer a prayer on behalf of our friend, Etando, and others like him who are struggling to recover from this recent tragedy? We can pray with confidence that God hears, God sees and God cares for them.

-Posted by Tom Albinson

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