And We're Off....

Posted by Kaylee K on Friday, July 31, 2015 Under: Italy
I feel like a horse at the gate at the Kentucky Derby! I'm chomping at the bit. My ears are perked. I'm digging my hooves into earth. I whinny as the I see the other horses get set. And...I wait for the starting gun to blast. This is actually where we were "at" in Oct. 2011 after returning from Italy. "Send us, Lord," we thought. But we waited for His timing. "Send us, Lord," we whispered. But we didn't have a plan or really a sense of the what, when or where. But, we did know (and still know) the why and the who because we have a loving Father who allows us to be part of His plans to redeem this world and bring justice and hope to the lost, persecuted, homeless, orphaned, wanderers. Who might fit this description better than the 52 million displaced people in this world? Displaced by war, persecution, execution, and imminent threats to their lives and the lives of those they love? Refugees are the who. Our Lord's purposes are the why. And, as we have waited at that starting gate for nearly 4 years, I am now amazed and somewhat overwhelmed that the "when" is upon us. 

It is amazing how God works. He truly does work all things out for good. In 2011, John and I sensed confirmation of a call we'd each experienced years earlier that we were to serve in Italy. But we still didn't understand how God would bring this about and where in Italy we'd be. Committed that He'd bring us at the right time, John served locally in Austin and I got certified to teach English as a foreign language and also served with him in the International Student ministry. Next, we sensed that before we relocated in Europe, it would be important for us to move closer to my family and friends in New York. In 2013, this became reality and these last 2 years were amazingly blessed with time with family, spending days with my Poppop, getting to know my goddaughter, Mimi, celebrating my brother's wedding, and welcoming his and Ashley's baby girl, Bella. We also made many new friends and were part of a special church in Jersey City, CityLife. Then...

Early in 2015, John lost his job and I lost mine 2 months later. The day after I lost my job, I had a very solid sense that I was to reach out to Tom Albinson with International Association for Refugees (IAFR) and let him know that I was available to help him with communications, social media, marketing...whatever I could do to help them share the stories of refugees (a specific way I sensed that I am designed to be a part of responding to the refugee crisis in our world).  We've been affiliated with IAFR since Tom launched the Christian non-profit in 2009. We travelled with them to Italy in 2011. And we had been blessed to be a financial supporter for many years because of the types of work God had provided us. Now, our work would change. We'd have the opportunity to move into long-term refugee ministry.

These last few months have been quite a journey. It was not long before we realized that we were not going to replace our jobs with equivalent positions. Although financially a bit scary, I was really excited to finally move into full-time refugee ministry. We knew that we couldn't maintain the Jersey City lifestyle and we were blessed that my father has a place in Salisbury where he graciously has allowed us to spend the summer and explore how God wants us to enter into this next phase. It has been a good summer and it has challenged us both in our areas of anxiety and self-identity. But God loves each of us (and all of us) too much to leave us as is when He has so much more that we can do. It has been amazing to see how we have been provided for; how those who know us are encouraging this journey as they've seen it develop for more than seven years; and how we are learning more and more what it means for a married couple to be a team as we learn to leave our egos at the door and rely on God more and more and more….

We don't have a completely clear plan yet. For those of you who've stepped out in faith when called to something new and somewhat counter-cultural, you'll understand. We get a sense of what's next and maybe a lil' vision for just after that…but we have to trust each day as the fuller plan unfolds. What we know is that I am currently working as the volunteer Social Media Director for IAFR. John and I have our long-term ministry applications submitted to the IAFR leadership for anticipated approval by the board at the end of August. Ideally, I'll move into an official role as Director of Awareness Programs (or something along those lines) once that happens, and we'll begin to build a support base of individuals and churches as we await the shaping of the work we will do in Italy alongside churches there. The current expectation is that we'd head to Italy in February for a month to attend the European Refugee Roundtable in Sicily, meet with churches in a few locations, and stay with friends we made in Pescara in 2011 as we explore working alongside them in long-term service. Then we'd plan to attend 3-6 months of immersion language programs in Italy starting late next summer. In the meantime, we leave in 3 weeks for a mega road trip from NY/NJ through St. Louis to Minneapolis. Then down to Fayetteville, AR and into Austin where we'll join the Ride for Refuge walk team and spend time reconnecting with peeps. We'll be on the road for 2-3 months and we are so excited to see friends and family, and to meet new friends and churches who will come along to partner in this work as we train with IAFR and begin to build a support base. 

So…the gun is about to sound. Will you join us on this race? And…we're off…..

In : Italy 

Tags: faith  refugees  italy 

Blog Authors

John and Kaylee Kolditz Kaylee founded Refugee Connect in 2008. John joined the work in 2011 as we investigated the refugee situation in Europe. But our faith and cross-cultural journeys have been a work-in-progress for many years. Much of this blog reflects that. ************************************************ We met in Austin, TX, while volunteering at a serving event at Gateway Church and have been married since 2002. Marriage, parenting and ministry all require a great deal of intentionality, humility and true reliance on God for strength, wisdom, and grace. It is a journey we are grateful to be on together. Ultimately, what matters to us is building into meaningful relationships in ways that, to the best of our ability and by God's grace, demonstrate the love and hope Jesus freely offers to us all. ************************************************ We bring both business and ministry backgrounds into our current work. John started a business in his 20's and helped build several other businesses. He has also served with churches in a variety of roles including as an assistant pastor, director of community development, and missions board member. Kaylee left her marketing career to become the global missions director for our home church in Austin, TX, then founded a local refugee ministry, and became TEFL certified (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in order to prepare for our work overseas. We have led short-term teams domestically and internationally, and served with a variety of cross-cultural ministries. In 2008, we sensed a call to build into the church in Europe, which was also around the time when God broke Kaylee’s heart for refugees. Since then, God has continued to weave together this heart for refugees, desire to serve alongside the church, and focus on His call to Europe.

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