The IAFR Blog

Field notes, perspectives, stories, news & announcements

Beyond Shelter

Inside Jonathan House

Asylum seekers in the US don't have it easy.

Did you know that asylum seekers in the USA are not permitted to work or access social services for their first 12 months? It’s little wonder that one of their most pressing needs is for safe housing.

Jonathan House is here to help.

IAFR established our Jonathan House ministry to help meet this need of asylum seekers in the Twin Cities. Most guests stay with us for 1-2 years before they are able to move on. Our present two houses are always full, so we’re presently working with a local church to open a third house.

Beyond shelter and practical assistance

Because safe and supportive relationships are every bit as important to recovery from forced displacement as is a roof over their heads, Jonathan House offers friendship and welcoming community to our displaced friends.

But I would be wrong to give you the impression that we are givers and our guests are takers. SJ Holsteen, IAFR Ministry Leader in Minneapolis/St. Paul, recently shared something that makes this clear.

"A woman who had lived in Jonathan House shared with me how she was struggling mentally and emotionally. She said that it would be helpful if we could meet daily together to read Scripture and pray into it. I have found our fellowship together before God’s throne has been as important and sustaining for me as it is for her. Once again, I am reminded that the strength of our ministry is not in offering solutions to all our displaced friends’ needs, but to come together before God in our shared humility and receive strength and grace from Jesus."

Mutual blessing

While we do what we can to help our displaced friends, we know that they also have much to offer us. And so we find that we mutually bless one another.

Shelter, safe and supportive relationships, emotional well-being, and life-giving faith – these are all core to what we do at Jonathan House – and every other IAFR ministry location.

You can partner with Jonathan House!

You can help provide safe shelter, practical help, and supportive community for those who have come to the Twin Cities seeking refuge from war, persecution, and gross violations of human rights. We invite you to partner with Jonathan House today.

Give Today!

Do you want to learn more? Visit the Jonathan House blog by clicking below.

- Tom Albinson with SJ Holsteen

Open Post

Responding to the Afghanistan Crisis

Women in a refugee camp near Athens
What are we to do if when we cry out to God, God doesn't seem to hear or care?

Surely this is a question that has been hollowing out hope in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of women, children, and men in Afghanistan in recent days as the US and NATO forces abandon their country.

As we have watched desperate people risk everything to find a way to safety, many of our friends and partners have reached out to us asking how they can help. One way you can do so is by making a donation to our refugee ministry in Athens, Greece. Here's why.

Afghanistan to Greece - Image from Google Maps

While the crisis at the Kabul airport is getting most of the media attention, many Afghan people are attempting to flee to Europe.

Afghan asylum seekers have undertaken the momentous journey across Iran, through Turkey to the shores of Greece for many decades. So it is no surprise that many are setting out on this stretch of the refugee highway today.

They will cross mountains, deserts, and seas in their pursuit of safety. And as they travel, the only thing of which they can be certain is that no country they pass through wants them to stay.

Meeting them in Athens with One Heart

IAFR is already in Greece, serving with our partner agency One Heart, a Greek mission agency that was founded many years ago by Sahar Kamrani, a former refugee from Iran. She became a Christian as a refugee in Greece and is passionate about caring for the body, mind, and spirit of those who are refugees today. IAFR missionaries, Ilir and Kate Cami, have been serving alongside of Sahar in Athens for many years.

They are on the ground today, ready to welcome, encourage, and serve Afghan refugees as they arrive. Some of the services they offer include...

  • Medical services in the One Heart Medical Clinic
  • Shelter services for vulnerable refugees
  • Baby supplies
  • Food distribution
  • Clothing distribution
  • Legal assistance
  • Visitation and hospitality
  • Pastoral care and opportunities for worship
The One Heart Ministry Building in Athens offers a host of services for refugees

Meeting them with Farsi and Dari

Afghans speak Dari, a language with many similarities to Farsi, the language of Iran. So Sahar is able to communicate with and translate for Afghan refugees as they arrive in Greece. As you might imagine, there are not many Christians serving refugees in Greece with her language ability.

You can help Afghan refugees

If you're looking for a way to help Afghan refugees, please consider making a gift toward the important refugee ministry in Athens.

While refugees from Afghanistan have long been a significant part of the ministry in Athens, the team is also serving refugees from Iran, Syria, and other far flung nations who have also been forced to flee their homelands.

Thank you for helping our team meet these uprooted friends with a warm welcome and much needed assistance - all in the name of Jesus.


IAFR missionaries serve so that forcibly displaced people encounter welcoming and caring Christians at every stage of their journey as a tangible sign that God sees, hears, and cares for them.

CLICK HERE to read or listen to an excellent in-depth assessment of the impending Afghan refugee crisis called "The shrinking options for Afghans escaping Taliban rule", by The New Humanitarian. Published: 8/30/2021.

- Tom Albinson

Open Post

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