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Kelsey Briggs | IAFR Italy

We are thrilled to welcome Kelsey Briggs to the IAFR Team! Kelsey is preparing to serve with IAFR in Italy. Read on to learn more about her.


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.

A Safe Place

Jonathan House prepares to open in St. Paul, MN

Did you know that in 2016, 262,000 people fled their country due to violence, war and persecution and made their way to the US in search of refuge? These men, women and children are called "asylum seekers".

While asylum seekers are legally allowed to reside in the US and seek refuge,  they are not permitted to work or access government services upon arrival. It can take a year before they receive a work permit. Traumatized and far from home, they are left to navigate the complex asylum system on their own.

How are asylum seekers to survive without permission to work or access to basic government services?

IAFR is partnering with local churches in the Twin Cities to provide safe housing, supportive community and practical assistance for asylum seekers. We call this ministry "Jonathan House". We dedicated the first Jonathan House this month.

40 people gathered in Jonathan House last Thursday to dedicate it to the Lord for his life-giving purposes. At least 4 different churches were represented at the gathering, including 1st Covenant Church of St. Paul, which has made it's parsonage available to serve as the first Jonathan House.

Prayers were offered up in each room, asking God to bless everyone who finds refuge within the house with supportive community, life-giving faith, peace of heart and mind, new skills for their new context and opportunities for meaningful work and service.

Donate

Become a financial partner of the Jonathan House ministry today!

Did you know?

According to Human Rights Watch, there are 1,800 asylum seekers in Minnesota today. The United Nations reports that there are over 540,000 pending asylum cases in the US, of which 262,000 were filed in 2016.

Lauren Gaines | IAFR Italy

We are happy to welcome Lauren Gaines to the IAFR Team! Lauren is preparing to serve with IAFR in Italy. Read on to learn more about her.


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.

Missions and Chickens

Good news! Thanks to the support of many individual donors and a grant from Tyndale House Foundation, we are now helping a group of 25 forcibly displaced women (mostly mothers) expand their chicken business from 460 to 2000 chickens! Learn more by clicking below.

Let there be Chickens!

What do chickens have to do with missions?

We believe that the good news of the kingdom of God touches every aspect of human life. In a cold-hearted world that leaves vulnerable people to fend for themselves outside of the city walls, loving mercy and pursuing justice are  essential to Christian life and ministry.

We desperately want people to know how much our Creator loves them. We also believe that God loves to provide for others through his people. Consider his invitation to partner with him in providing food, water, hospitality, shelter, healing and loving presence to outsiders and strangers in Matthew 25.

Helping Pauline (see Let there be Chickens) and these forcibly displaced friends grow their business without going deeper into debt is a tangible way that God is giving them their daily bread. But their business generates more than helpful income to pull them out of deep poverty. It is strengthening life-giving hope and resilience.

By investing in their poultry business, we are helping them overcome the trauma of their displacement by strengthening their community and increasing their capacity to make ends meet in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances. Furthermore, by getting behind their initiative, we are affirming their dignity and helping them make a meaningful contribution to society. All of this is fueling hope, without which despair can take hold and suffocate the soul.

The fact that these ladies identify themselves as followers of Jesus makes this partnership all the more meaningful. They know that they are not forgotten and alone. The church-at-large is standing with them.

Strengthening life-giving community, faith, emotional well-being, personal capacity and the ability to contribute to society are all important ways that we are helping people recover from forced displacement - and core to the way IAFR pursues our mission along the refugee highway.

Listen to this quick interview with Pauline, the leader of the 25 women co-op, as she talks about the poultry project...

 

Kenya Poultry Project - IAFR from IAFR on Vimeo.

Click here to learn more about this IAFR project.

Contact IAFR US

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Tel. 612.200.0321


IAFR | 1515 East 66th Street | Minneapolis, MN 55423 | Tel. 612.200.0321 | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.