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SJ Holsteen joins IAFR!

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IAFR is happy to announce that Sarah Jane (SJ) Holsteen has joined IAFR to serve with our ministry in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Read more to learn more about our newest teammate!


Sarah Jane (SJ) Holsteen joined the IAFR Minneapolis/St Paul team in Fall 2018 after having volunteered for two years in the launch of Jonathan House, IAFR’s housing project for asylum seekers in the Twin Cities.

SJ first learned about the social and political marginalization that asylum seekers face while volunteering at a walk-in clinic for migrants run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-AZG) in Antwerp, Belgium in 2002/2003. She’s excited to work with churches and nonprofits in the Twin Cities now to address gaps and build mutually-transformative community with asylum seekers in the US.

Having lived a time in Belgium, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Burkina Faso, SJ finds great joy in cross-cultural relationship. The love and welcome she experienced when a stranger inspires her to offer (and receive!) the same in living and working with refugees. Believing that shared stories form a foundation for healing and belonging, SJ enjoys inviting reflection on where we see God in our stories, as well as where He might be calling us deeper into His.

SJ comes to IAFR with a diverse background in health and social services, post-secondary education, and marketing-communications. She has a BA in Spanish from Wheaton College and an MFA in creative nonfiction from University of Alaska-Fairbanks. In addition to her work with IAFR, she teaches academic and creative writing as an adjunct English professor at University of Northwestern - St Paul.

Donate to SJ's Ministry Now!

We thank God for leading SJ to join our team of missionaries dedicating their lives to helping people survive and recover from forced displacement!

Changing Lives, One Bite at a Time

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I love to cook so when I was looking for a way to connect with refugee women in my town, I knew that food was a good place to start.

One day I was visiting a young Syrian mother in her home. She was so busy in the kitchen that we could barely talk. In order to spend time together, I rolled up my sleeves and asked her to teach me how to cook her favorite food. I was blown away by her response. In an instant this young woman, lost in years of tragedy, came alive in an amazing way.

Since then I’ve cooked with many women of all ages from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. Regardless of what we prepare, the response from the time spend together is always the same… smiles, hugs, tears, laughing… joy!

It’s amazing how God uses the small things, like me and cooking, to make a big impact. But he does and I feel so privileged to be part of that.

If you’re interested in learning more about how cooking can help refugees thrive, visit We just published an amazing calendar with recipes you must try!

Grace + Peace,

I Am Every Asylum Seeker

I Am Every Asylum Seeker from IAFR on Vimeo.

This 4 minute video was produced by IAFR's team serving in Minneapolis/St. Paul. They have been assisting both refugees and asylum seekers in the Twin Cities for several years now.

We've discovered that many people appreciate help in understanding what it means to be an asylum seeker. This brief presentation is intended to help.

Jonathan House Fundraiser!

You’re invited!

Join us for an hour of stories, celebration, and HOPE as we reflect on our first year providing safe, stable housing to asylum seekers in the Twin Cities and share what's next for Jonathan House.

This is a free breakfast event and there is no financial commitment in attending. Attendees will have an opportunity to become a Friend of Jonathan House and donate toward our second site, scheduled to open Fall 2018.

Come and learn how Jonathan House is making a difference in individuals’ lives and how you can shelter hope for some of the 3,000 asylum seekers living in Minnesota.

In order to assure that we plan adequately for food and tables, please register by October 2. Click here to register now!

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