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More than shelter (Jonathan House)

February 15, 2023

Finding safe shelter and supportive community at Jonathan House

The other day I stopped by Jonathan House to check on Camilo, an asylum seeker we had the privilege of welcoming recently. He had been quite nervous to move into one of our temporary homes for asylum seekers and was rather shy, so I wanted to see how the adjustment was going for him.


We sat on the couch together and I asked how he was finding Jonathan House. He paused a minute and thought. In his limited English, he chose a simple response. “Family,” he said motioning to his three housemates standing in the other room. I smiled.

Why do you do what you do?

Then he asked if he could ask me a question. “Of course,” I said, anticipating something along the lines of “where is the nearest grocery store,” or “how can I pay my phone bill.” Instead, he looked at me and asked a bit sheepishly, “why do you do what you do?

I was touched and did my best to explain that we believe God sees, hears, and cares for people who are forcibly displaced and that by sharing life together, we all grow in God’s hope and belonging.

Too good to be true?

A look of relief washed over his face as he thanked me profusely and explained that normally he is very outgoing and excitable but was feeling nervous because his family back home was concerned that we might come back later and demand payment from him. He said that at Jonathan House everything was very peaceful and nice, and he was worried it was maybe too good to be true.

The long road of recovery was beginning.

I affirmed that after a long journey I could imagine that trusting people would be very difficult and thanked him for trusting us. In that moment, I saw a small piece of his energetic personality return to him and I smiled again. The long road to recovery was beginning.

Developing deep and lasting friendships

In 2022, we were able to accommodate just 5% of the people who inquired about living at Jonathan House. We feel the weight of each person we turn away and often wish we had more rooms available.

But a smaller housing capacity means more opportunity to develop deep and lasting relationships with friends like Camilo.

We can really share our lives and as we do, we often see people move from the timidity that trauma inflicts to the confidence of being known and knowing they belong.

Recovery is rooted in safe shelter and supportive community.

Safe, stable shelter goes a long way in providing a sense of security, but it is only just the start. Supportive community is the fertile soil where recovery takes root. It is here that we offer the restorative, healing hope of Christ to one another.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Jonathan House!


*Please pray with us for God to call three more teammates to join the growing Jonathan House ministry in Minneapolis/St. Paul!

- Kelsey Ueland

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