I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -Jesus, John 10:10
This year’s theme at Refuge KC is to Narrow the Gap. A gap exists between our New-American neighbors and the abundant life that Jesus promises them in John 10:10. At Refuge KC, we face the gap of language and culture with our other-nation neighbors that continually challenges our ability to connect with them on a daily basis. We see a gap between these nations and the Church in Kansas City and so we have intensified our efforts to close this gap. But the gap that should keep us up at night is the separation that exists between these nations and the God who created them for His glory. This gap should weigh heavily upon us because God has given His Son to bridge the gap. Isaiah 43:6b-7 reminds us “bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” We want to work together to bring the nations closer to Christ and prevent the eternal suffering of separation from God.
At times, this task seems insurmountable and honestly impossible for us. Yet God has made a way and He has given us His authority to make disciples of all nations. I’m encouraged as I remember this promise: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples among all nations.” Not some authority. Not a little authority. Not limited authority. All authority in heaven and on earth. This is followed by the promise “and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age!.” This promise is for us today- all of us- and it is my prayer that we will proceed together as the Church in Kansas City in His authority to narrow the gap between the nations of Kansas City and the God who created them to worship Him! Will you join us? Remember, the outcome is sure: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 Join us as we join Jesus in a task that cannot fail! Thank you for your partnership with us in advancing the Kingdom of God in Christ!
Refuge KC is seeking to be the Church’s welcome mat placed before the feet of the nations that God brings to Kansas City. With your help, we will continue to welcome, serve and connect our new-American neighbors with the family of God in the church of Kansas City. We will seek to serve the nations with Gospel-focused ministries of mercy so they might know, love and follow Jesus into HIs Kingdom! We are excited about the future as we cast a vision for narrowing the gap through partnership between the churches of Kansas City and Refuge KC!
~ Richard Casebolt, Founder and Executive Director, Refuge KC
At the end of March I (Richard) was fortunate to be able to take a trip to the border between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. It was a short trip, but very insightful. We made the trip with a non-profit group called Abara. The trip was organized by Pastor Matt Adams from Westside Family Church. The trip was organized into 3 main parts: classroom time, a presentation from the border patrol, and a short excursion into Juarez to visit a shelter housing refugees. I wanted to just share some bullet points of what I learned on that trip.
"In El Paso this week for a border experience. The situation here is evidently changing always- perhaps depending on the White House policy. We have been saying for sometime that God determines the boundaries and habitation (time and place) of EVERY man, woman and child here on His terrestrial ball- and so at some point we have to decide if we really mean it or if we are going to quite saying it."
Acts 17:26-27 to you so that they should seek God,
Over the next 9 weeks Refuge KC will be hosting a group of 6 interns serving the needs of our New-American neighbors and helping in various ways around the office of RKC while also getting cross-cultural training by some experienced practitioners. Our Summer 2023 Interns are: Maddy Karst, Luke Ringer, Riley Woodson, Clayton Gonyo, Elaina Schumacher, and Bianca Oralus.
Luke's Motivation for interning with Refuge KC:
Missions runs deep in Luke's family. Luke's grandparents served as missionaries in Thailand while he was raised in Vietnam and then in Thailand.
Maddy's Motivation for interning with Refuge KC:
Missions are my passion, I love sharing the gospel with people, especially people from other cultures. Going overseas isn't an option right now, but I would love to learn and grow in working with people from other places and this seems like the perfect opportunity. I also had a close friend who did this internship last summer (Eliora Payne) and she has highly recommended it to me.
Isaiah 60:5 says "Then you will see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you."
What is the true wealth of nations? In sheer economic terms, it is often considered to be the productivity, like the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) reading of the US economy. Do you know what God considers to be the wealth of the nations? People. I believe that God finds people to be valuable and that He finds them valuable apart from their productivity. Why are people so valuable to God? Because He made them. God made each and every human being on the face of the earth and He gave them a unique soul as part of making humans in His own image. What do you find most valuable in life? If we are to be more like God in what we value, consider what is is of eternal value. People are of eternal value because they have a soul. So let us look upon the nations God is bringing to Kansas City and allow our hearts to thrill and exult in God. And the next time we read 550 Afghan arrivals are scheduled to arrive in Kansas City, let us read that as 550 Afghan people created in the image of God or closer to the truth, 550 souls, eternal souls made in the image of God are scheduled to arrive in Kansas City.
!Ambassador- am-bas-uh-der, -dawr
1. a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary ).
2. a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty.
3. a diplomatic official serving as permanent head of a country's mission to the United Nations or some other international organization.
4. an authorized messenger or representative. Abbreviation: Amb., amb.
At Refuge KC, we are glorifying God by welcoming our refugee neighbors as our new-American neighbors with Gospel-focused ministries of mercy so they might know, love, and follow Jesus into His Kingdom. We desire to welcome our new neighbors into our city AND into the Kingdom of God. We are dependent upon our welcoming God to do this and we believe He is leading others to Refuge KC to help with this effort. Yes, we want to welcome our new-American neighbors in such a way that they become both citizens of Heaven and citizens of these United States of America. Will you help us? Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and allow God's word to renew your commitment to be His Ambassador today!
Over the next three weeks, we'll be publishing posts by our three interns, Christina, Abby, and Regan. These posts will discuss why, for each of them, they felt led to Refuge KC and the ways God is working on their hearts as they serve.
A few days ago I found myself in the apartment of a young Ethiopian woman drinking the most amazing cup of coffee I had had in months. I sat there in an old, faded armchair, blessed by her and her roommate’s hospitality, eating, and reading the Bible with a few other friends of theirs who had come over, and I was struck by something.
How did I get here? How did a farm girl from the middle of rural Missouri, who wears jeans on a daily basis and grew up going to a suburban church in Liberty end up in the heart of Northeastern Kansas City in the home of an Ethiopian refugee wearing patterned Turkish pants that I had previously used as my pajama pants?
I mean really, pants aside, how did I get here?
Hi, by the way. Thanks for reading this. I just realized I didn’t introduce myself: I’m Regan Seba, one of the three interns here at Refuge KC this summer. I like music of all types, playing the piano and singing, reading, and good food. I grew up in a small town called Lathrop, was homeschooled until my sophomore year of high school, and this fall I’m headed to the University of Central Missouri to major in nursing and minor in music. This summer, though, I get to do ministry here at Refuge KC.
During my senior year of high school we had to do a service project for my College English class where we picked a problem we saw in our community and went and did something about it. We would make a plan, implement the plan, and, hopefully, see some lasting change from our investment in our world.
Oh, and we had to write a 26 page research paper about it. That was fun.
I’ve had a pull towards the refugee population ever since I was fifteen and became aware of the problem, but this was the first time I had a reason or opportunity to do something about it. I saw that English and having a community was the biggest problems refugees were facing once they got here to the United States. Not being able to communicate affects every part of their life. To truly rebuild from the horrors many of them have lived, they have to be able to learn English.
Through some trial and error and phone tag and a lot of grace I ended up getting to help with ESL classes every Thursday night for a few months at Refuge KC. It was humbling and exciting to meet new people in this setting. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and just kind of jumped in and learned as I went how to help the refugees we served learn English.
Then came April, when Rich reached out to me again and asked if I’d like to intern this summer with Refuge KC and continue to learn what this ministry looks like. I was blown away and also nervous. Was this where God wanted me this summer? It would completely derail my original plans, which were to get my EMT and work in emergency response. It was a scary opportunity to get to jump in a place where I have no idea whatsoever what I’m doing. Was this really where the Lord was wanting me to go? It would be costly, in time and gas money. It would be hard, getting out of my comfort zone so radically. It would be strange, not spending my last summer as a "kid" hanging out with friends and instead choosing to do ministry basically full-time. Everything God was pushing me to say yes to was completely counter-cultural.
Eventually after a lot of prayer I said yes, and I’m so glad I did. It’s been a rollercoaster these first few weeks figuring out what I’m doing and just how much I don’t know. I’m stunned daily at the opportunity for the gospel and the way God has brought the world to Kansas City. It’s incredible work. Kingdom work. It is worth every sacrifice, every day I'm exhausted, every morning I don't want to get up, every time I am discouraged. Every time I feel like what I'm doing is crazy- working and interning full time, barely seeing my family and friends- I'm re-affirmed that I'm where God has put me for a specific purpose.
The avenue we each take to get to this place, walking in a different culture loving Jesus with people or loving on them, is so different. But I am so thankful for each of you who serves with us here at Refuge KC. I know so little and am growing so much as I get to intern this summer. I hope that you are also able to say yes when God calls you out of your comfort zone.
Because I promise, no matter what pants you are wearing, He will take you somewhere amazing when you say yes.
And there might even be some really good coffee there.
John (name changed) is a refugee who fled from the Middle East and has been settled here in America with his family for just under two years. John and his family were originally brought to Texas where they lived and found work. Just a few months ago, however, John had to make his way to Kansas City for various reasons. His plan was to stay there, find an apartment, and bring the rest of his family up also. After 2 months of being by himself, I was introduced to him through a friend. The week before, he had just had a stroke and was very weak in his mid-thirties. Two weeks into meeting him, he informed me that he was going to go back to Texas the next day to be with his family and may not be coming back. So I ran out to my car and gave him the Bible I was planning on bringing to him in his heart language and with great joy he received it and thanked me numerous times. He proceeded to tell me that he had been reading through the book of John with one of his friends in Texas and had been reading every morning from the Bible since he had been here, but that his Bible had been stolen along with his bag just a few days before. He was very excited to read, and so we eventually opened up to Mark and read the first chapter or so and talked about the many amazing miracles Jesus performed. Not too long after, we said our goodbyes and the next morning he went back to be with his family.
This story is just a short testimony of how God is at work in the lives of others, even where you find yourself now. Praise God that He allows us to come along side Him and work in His harvest fields!
This year as we have told the Christmas story in the homes of new-American neighbors who have settled among us, I have been reminded anew that Jesus began His life on earth as a refugee. In fact, we might consider Jesus as a two-time refugee. First, He left Heaven and came to earth as the One who would purchase the redemption of our souls in a rescue plan designed by God His Father. Jesus emptied Himself of all that rightfully belonged to Him and for our sake became poor that we might become rich. That was His first and ongoing refugee experience. Second, Jesus would have less than two years of life before He would be the target of a plan to destroy Him designed by Herod. So Jesus fled with His family to Egypt to escape from the murderous plot of Herod. Our new settler neighbors know what it is like to flee for their lives from their country of birth. And now they can know that Someone is able to relate to them as One who has walked through this refugee experience long before they did. His name is Jesus. Refugee Jesus who came to seek and save the lost and to serve- giving His life as a ransom for many. Cf. Matthew 2:13-15, Mark 10:45.
This year for Christmas, we have been "gifting" our neighbors from around the world by showing up to their home with wrapped Christmas gifts. We use this time to sing Christmas carols (you know, the ones about the Christ in CHRISTmas), present the simple story of Jesus' birth, and to pray for them. Refuge KC is so thankful for Crossroads Church & Pastor Darryl Jones, Emmaus Church & Risa Woods, and First Baptist Independence & Pastor Kevin Payne.