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What we do matters!

Twenty-four people came to the quarterly gathering of the Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) Asylum Network yesterday. They represent churches and local agencies that include asylum seekers within the scope of their work. The Asylum Network was started by Sarah Miller, our MSP Ministry Leader.

When she first came to the Twin Cities, her research identified asylum seekers as an underserved group in the community. As she met with different people involved in some sort of assistance to asylum seekers, she found that they weren't all connected with each other. Everyone was serving in isolation. So she launched the Asylum Network. It's been going strong for a couple of years now.

This week, the Center for Victims of Torture (an international humanitarian agency based in the Cities) gave a presentation on trauma awareness. Sarah later wrote...

"During the discussion time at the end, a Rwanda asylum seeker, Emmanual, shared how his experience resonated with what was shared. He is an incredibly articulate young man. Before the day ended yesterday, I received this email from him:

Subject: Thank you for your commitment to our cause.

Hi Sarah, I am so glad to have met you. Thank you so much for your choice to dedicate yourself to the cause of refugees. Thank you deeply for creating a space for asylum seekers. It is terrible to fall in a category that has zero eligibility in the nation’s social protection. Thank you. This is just a note of thanks, I would like to meet you any time soon you can be available. I hope you live in Minnesota.

With many thanks, Emmanuel "

Sarah was quick to pass this encouragement along to the IAFR team noting:

"I'm so encouraged by this! What we do matters!"

"Do you see the man reaching out?"

Image: Art by Giovanni Battista Piranesi at the Minneapolis Art Institute
(The red circle is added to help you easily find the men reaching out)

SJ volunteers with IAFR's team in Minneapolis/St. Paul. She spends a lot of her time helping out at Jonathan House, an IAFR ministry offering shelter, community and practical help to asylum seekers in the Twin Cities.

SJ recently went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art with one of the Jonathan House residents. He, in turn, invited a friend and fellow asylum seeker to join them.

While there, they came across an exhibition of prints by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, all of which portrayed convoluted, perspective-defying imaginary prisons.

The Jonathan House resident considered one of the prints (above).

He asked his friend, “What do you think this is a picture of?

His friend gave several answers: “Conflict. Racism. Social inequality.”

The resident shook his head, and said, “It’s the immigration system.

Everyone laughed, but he went on to explain.

The person in chains on the left is an asylum seeker who just arrived and doesn’t know anything about immigration law, and he’s like, ‘Oh, my god! What do I do?

The lions at the bottom are if you get deported and sent back to your home country.

And here on the right, above the lion, do you see the man reaching out? That’s a refugee. And the other man reaching out to him - is Jonathan House.

-from Sarah Miller, IAFR Ministry Leader in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Refugee Youth Camp (France)

Listen to Chris share how youth camp impacted his life this week. He's a refugee from Congo.

The camp brought refugee and French youth together. As they reflected on the story of Joseph in the Bible, Chris says he could see his story in Joseph's story.

"Would you like to do it again?"

"Yes, of course! It was fantastic!"

Duration: 2 minutes

Asking for a sign

Assadi has been coming to the Wednesday night fellowship here in Lille (France) for the past two months. He has shared how hard it is to be separated from his family now for 7 years. He has 5 kids under the age of 14, and He has often asked, "If God hears our prayers, why doesn’t he do something?

This past Sunday the pastor spoke of Thomas and his need for a sign to awaken his faith. This spoke to Assadi. He asked God a sign, such as someone inviting him out for lunch in a restaurant where he could enjoy a nice meal.

Of course, I had no idea about his prayer. But when I saw Assadi after church, I spontaneously invited him to go with us to a restaurant for lunch. We rarely go out after church, so this invitation was out of the ordinary. But wow. It was exactly the sign from God for which Assadi had prayed.

God hears. God sees. God cares.

by Paul Sydnor, France

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