Field notes, perspectives, stories, news & announcements
May 17, 2023
As a new recruit to IAFR, I have been in a discernment process concerning which team I will be joining. With my sights on working in Europe, I planned to visit Bosnia and the IAFR team there. As the couple who leads the team chatted with me about timing, they suggested, "If you come in March, you could attend the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP) Roundtable in Italy with us."
I thought this would be a great way to kick off the discernment process by jumping right in and interacting with people doing the work and hearing the real stories in the real place. I also wanted to meet more of IAFR's Europe staff, and this was a perfect opportunity to also interact with them, as many of them would be attending. IAFR ended up being well represented, with about fifteen of us from the U.S. and Europe at the Roundtable.
The RHP is a global network of believers who share a passion for ministering the gospel as the Church among those who have been forcibly displaced – including refugees arriving in Europe.
IAFR has been heavily involved in the RHP from its beginning. The Europe Roundtable is the RHP conference where dozens of nationalities, organizations, and churches gather annually, bringing their unique perspectives to encourage one another, pray together, and share information and resources on working among the displaced in their varying locations.
Over the several days we spent together, two themes emerged as significant for me. The first was the importance of meaningful relationships. This truth was highlighted in all the breakout sessions I attended. Two workshops, one on ministering to people who have escaped human trafficking and another on trauma recovery, were especially impactful. Led by people from totally different parts of the world with very similar stories, they each repeatedly talked about meaningful relationships in which people came and walked alongside them, patiently listening to them and engaging their stories at their own pace. These relationships were vital in their personal healing and recovery. I realized I wanted this relational aspect to be a foundational anchor point as I work among displaced people in the future.
The second theme was the power of collaboration. IAFR places a high value on collaboration. Seeing this same value at work on such a large scale as people shared about their work and how they are doing it was amazing. People got excited about what was happening in other places and encouraged each other through stories and shared discussions. A lot of the breakouts were on collaborating with other organizations and ministries. The sense of togetherness was deeply encouraging. I came away believing that collaboration is the most effective way to do things in this work. And spiritually and emotionally, it's necessary for the health of this work. The RHP showcased the importance of this collaborative mindset beautifully.
Following the Roundtable and a visit to my IAFR colleagues in Sarajevo, it became clear to me that this is the ministry I will be joining once I have raised the required support. I can't wait!
CLICK HERE to learn more about IAFR's work in Sarajevo!
- Bri Bulman with Rachael LofgrenBack to the Blog