About Us

Helping people survive and recover from forced displacement

Our StoryAffirmationsCore ValuesTeamFinancialsBoard
Tom Albinson with a refugee pastor in Dzaleka refugee camp, Malawi

Our Story

IAFR was established in 2009 in response to the need for an international Christian nonprofit agency devoted to the mission of helping people survive and recover from forced displacement. We do this in partnership with local churches, refugees churches and the church-at-large.

At the time of our founding, we did not know that the world was on the brink of an unprecedented refugee crisis that would play a defining role in the 21st Century.

We were established for such a time as this. Together with the church, we are a force for hope, healing and recovery in the world.


The work of IAFR flows naturally out of our relationship with Jesus Christ who taught us that the greatest of all commandments is to love God and our neighbor.

We affirm the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, to be the word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine and conduct.

We affirm that Jesus Christ is the divine atoning sacrifice for sin and that forgiveness from all sin, the indwelling Holy Spirit, citizenship in the kingdom of God, and everlasting life are among the life-transforming gifts freely received by God’s grace through personal faith in him.

We acknowledge our wholehearted dependency upon God. We seek God's direction, God's  provision, God's power and God's presence in all we consider, attempt and accomplish.

Recognizing our participation in the mission of the church begun at the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we affirm our identification with the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Furthermore, we serve forcibly displaced people in the spirit of the following documents:

Core Values

Our underlying convictions determine how we pursue our mission of helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.

Refugee Churches

We collaborate with refugee churches.

IAFR recognizes that refugee churches are uniquely situated to identify the needs of forcibly displaced people. They are well aware of the challenges and opportunities related to their context and often have clear vision and a compelling sense of mission. IAFR looks for opportunities to help refugee churches accomplish their mission.

Long-term Relationships

We establish and sustain long-term relationships of trust.

Relationships of trust form the basis for all that we do. IAFR develops long lasting relationships with refugee churches and like-minded partners from which projects come and go. Our commitment to these relationships continues long after projects are completed.


We collaborate with others, including refugees.

The challenges and needs facing forcibly displaced people are overwhelming. No single agency has all it takes to meet these needs. We compliment existing ministries and partner with refugees as well as like-minded churches and agencies, believing that we can accomplish more together than we can on our own.

Host Country Economy

We respect and strengthen the economies of the countries within which we serve.

IAFR ministries and projects draw from resources available in the host country whenever possible. We seek to strengthen local economies and avoid creating dependencies upon foreign economies.

Local Churches

We partner with local churches.

As followers of Jesus are to be marked by hospitality to foreigners, local churches are called to be communities that welcome refugees. Their knowledge of the local language, culture, resources, and laws make them well-suited to helping displaced people integrate into their new society. The refugee crisis desperately needs churches to show up in ways that further hope, healing, and reconciliation in the world.


We acknowledge that refugees bless us even as we seek to bless them.

Refugees are more than people in need. They are among the world's most resilient and resourceful people. Yes, we need to help them, but we also have much to learn from them. IAFR ministries promotes mutual blessing in all we pursue.

Respect & Dignity

We demonstrate respect and affirm dignity.

We are committed to demonstrating respect and affirming the dignity of forcibly displaced people. IAFR publications and media will represent them in honest, respectful and non-exploitive ways. We share IAFR publications, photos, videos, etc. with those featured in order to confirm that they feel respected and appropriately represented.

Meet the Team

Listed alphabetically by first name

April Palmbos

Executive Team Assistant

Bethany Ringdal

Mpls/St. Paul Team

Brett & Becca McNew

Lille France Team

Dr. George Kalantzis

Senior Fellow of Theology

Ilir & Kate Cami

Athens Team

Jacob Tornga

East Africa Regional Leader

Jason Lukis

Mpls/St. Paul Team

Joe Saperstein

Lille France Team

Josh & Jen Levin

Mpls/St. Paul Team

Kelsey Briggs

Mpls/St. Paul Team

Laura Longino

Northern Colorado Team

Lindsay & Gareth Penfold

Lille France Team

Paul Sydnor

Europe Regional Leader

Rachel Uthmann

Director of Training

Rev. J.P. Gatera

Refugee Church Consultant

SJ Holsteen

Mpls/St. Paul Ministry Leader

Sarah Miller

Dir. of International Ministries

Shahrazad Mohamed

Winnipeg Ministry

Shanna Doughty

Northern Colorado Ministry Leader

Sharon Tonzo

Atlanta Ministry Leader

Tim Barnes

Executive Vice President

Tim Uthmann

Assistant Director of Operations

Tom Albinson

Founder and President

Whitney Gerdes

Vienna Ministry Leader



We are grateful for the generous donations of our financial partners that make the unique ministry of IAFR possible.

As a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, IAFR is committed to financial integrity and transparency. IAFR serves in compliance with all federal, state and IRS regulations. Our most recent Annual Report and IRS 990 Report are available for download below.

FY2020 Annual Report

IAFR Annual Report

Download a copy of the IAFR Annual Report (FY2020). Or Click Here to view a touchscreen friendly version now.

IRS 990 Report

Download a copy of the most recent IAFR IRS 990 Report (FY2020).

Independent Audit

IAFR recognizes that our financial integrity is of paramount importance to our missionaries, financial partners and ministry partners. To help ensure financial integrity, IAFR submits itself to an annual independent audit.

The IAFR Board of Directors

*Advisory Board Members

Jill Elefritz
Jill Elefritz, Chair

Onalaska, Washington

Stephen Freed
Stan Diddams

Seattle, Washington

*Shahrazad Mohamed

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Rev. Brian Doten
Rev. Brian Doten

Maple Grove, Minnesota

Kristel Lehner
Kristel Lehner, Vice Chair

St. Paul, Minnesota

*Tim Barnes

Peoria, Illinois

John Swale
John Swale, Treasurer

Dacula, Georgia

Tom Albinson
Tom Albinson

Plymouth, Minnesota

Stephen FReed, Secretary

St. Paul, Minnesota

*rev. J.P. Gatera

Minneapolis, Minnesota


We want to give our refugee friends an opportunity to express their gratitude to all who participate in and support the work of IAFR in the world.

We created this video of thanks for IAFR's 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2019. Listen to our friends as they express their thanks in their own languages from refugee camps in Africa and European cities.

IAFR | 1515 East 66th Street | Minneapolis, MN 55423 | info@iafr.org | 612.200.0321

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