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Upcoming Webinar!

Theme: Overview of the Refugee Highway
: 25 June 2019
Time: 1:00 PM CDT (Chicago time)
Location: Online
Registration: Click here to register now!

Details:  This IAFR webinar will offer a global snapshot of the realities of refugees and others forced to flee their homes because of violence and hatred. Whether you're new to the topic of refugees and forcibly displaced people or just looking for a way to stay up to date, this webinar is for you.

Register today to join us for a one-hour session featuring Tom Albinson, Founder/President of IAFR and Ambassador for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless People for the World Evangelical Alliance.

A Time to Build!

Refugee Church Buildings - Before and After

The Kenya government opened the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement in June 2016. It is located about 10 miles down the road from Kakuma refugee camp. About 40,000 refugees live there today.

Being a relatively new camp, Christian refugees are struggling to build suitable church buildings - a necessity as the harsh climate and terrain do not make it possible to meet safely outside.

At present, most of the churches in Kalobeyei look like the "today" photo above. As you can see, the heat, sand and winds quickly shred their simple structures.

When I met with local church leaders there in February, they asked if IAFR would partner with them to help build more durable church buildings. They proposed that we provide them with metal sheets. They will come up with the other building materials and build their churches.

100 metal sheets will build 1 refugee church. The cost per church = $1000.

A refugee church in prayer

Photo: A refugee church in prayer

Investing in life-giving faith and supportive community

Refugee churches are far more than buildings. They are communities of life-giving faith that play a critical role in helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.

Refugee church buildings serve as community hubs that buzz with activity throughout the week hosting worship services, prayer meetings, discipleship studies, choir practices, and programs for children, youth and women. They also serve as ministry centers through which the needs of orphans, widows, single moms, the elderly and chronically sick are met.

Refugee church buildings play a critical role in helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.

Thank You!

Our generous partners have already provided enough to provide metal sheets for 5 refugee church buildings! There are an estimated 45 refugee churches in Kalobeyei, of which most are in need of metal sheets.

Please pray with us that these churches will all have a suitable building before the end of 2019.

-by Tom Albinson, IAFR President

KISOM is here!

It was a joy to participate in the first training seminar to be held in the brand new building of the Kakuma Interdenominational School of Mission (KISOM) while in Kakuma last month!

KISOM was established by an association of refugee churches over 20 years ago. They have been praying for a suitable building for their school and God has now provided. What a joy for IAFR to participate with God as he answered their prayers!

KISOM - Before and After

The photos above show where they have most recently been meeting - in an abandoned and condemned primary school in the refugee camp. The new building is on land owned by our refugee partner United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC) and is situated in an easily accessible spot just outside of the camp.

The hill in the distance is commonly known as "prayer mountain" - a place that refugees and Christian humanitarian workers have gone to pray ever since the camp was established back in 1992. What a perfect view from the KISOM campus!

Prof Kalantzis teaching theology in Kakuma

Photo: Wheaton College Professor George Kalantzis teaching theology in Kakuma refugee camp (2/2019)

IAFR has been partnering with KISOM for many years. Through our partnership with Wheaton College and the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, we have brought theological and trauma care training to refugee church leaders. While in Kakuma last month, we were encouraged to hear how they are taking what they're learning back to their faith communities.

IAFR has identified 5 essentials that strengthen hope and human resilience. Our investment in KISOM is a substantial contribution to each of them. Through KISOM we are:

  1. strengthening refugee church communities;
  2. deepening faith in Jesus Christ;
  3. equipping refugee churches to help heal the wounds of trauma;
  4. strengthening the capacity of refugee leaders to care for their churches;
  5. and supporting the initiative and vision of our refugee partners (KISOM).

The KISOM campus

Photo: The KISOM campus today

Many thanks to everyone who prayed and contributed to the KISOM Building Project over the years! We hope the sight of the new building fills you with joy!

Please pray as we are now working on the final touches to this phase of the development of the KISOM campus.

We recently received a grant from the 2018 Urbana Student Missions Conference that will make it possible to add 4 toilets and a rain water collection system to provide a sustainable source of water on campus. We're praying that we will have enough funding remaining to install solar power - a clean, reliable and sustainable source of electricity on the KISOM campus!

-by Tom Albinson, IAFR President

Givers or Takers?

Photo: Sharon Tonzo with Nestorine

IAFR's Sharon Tonzo is a missionary from the Philippines serving forcibly displaced people in Atlanta. Over the years, Sharon has become friends with a family from D.R. Congo. Appoline, a daughter, is part of Sharon's youth ministry. She put her faith in Jesus earlier this year.

Nestorine, Appoline's mother (above), recently gave Sharon a generous gift for her mother back in the Philippines! Nestorine wanted to honor her for allowing Sharon to serve refugees in the US!

Meanwhile, in a refugee camp on the other side of the world...

Photo: Mama Fartun with her children in Kakuma

Mama Fartun (photo) has been a refugee in Kenya for at least 20 years. IAFR's Tom Albinson always looks forward to visiting with her and her neighbors when in Kakuma.

Over the years, Mama Fartun has sent Tom back to the US with hand tailored clothing for his wife, his daughter, his son-in-law, and in February she sent him back with bed sheets for his mother! She has made it clear that saying "no" to her gifts is not an option.

Refugees are more than people in need. They are among the most generous people in the world.

Photo: "These brothers and sisters came around me when I needed them." -T.Albinson

Tom Albinson was in Kakuma refugee camp when he got the news that his sister-in-law had suddenly passed away. It happened just a few minutes after he had taken this photo.

These brothers and sisters saw Tom was in pain and quickly gathered around him in prayer. They were no strangers to grief and heartache.

While this happened several years ago, Tom will never forget the gift they gave him that day - their loving presence.

Making a meaningful contribution to the lives of others is essential to recovery from forced displacement.

Despair takes root when we feel that we have nothing of value to offer others. Yet all too often, refugees are perceived and treated by others as if they are only people in need. Not only is this harmful - it isn't true.

So as we help our friends survive and recover from forced displacement, we often find ourselves on the receiving end of their generosity, hospitality and care.

In the end, we are all givers and takers.

-by Tom Albinson, IAFR President

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