LIBERTY – After escaping a violent mob, crossing the Ugandan border, and spending time in a refugee camp, the 55 participants of the Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association’s (BR-KC) first Refugee Simulation experience were awarded the chance to be resettled in another country.
“Two hours of life in the refugee camp was enough to give them a taste of the conditions, and the thought of ten years there was too much for participants to handle,” said Andrew Huesing, leader of BR-KC’s People Teams ministry. “I believe that it struck a nerve and gave participants an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting lesson in their minds. Those who used their imagination the best got the most out of it, but the make-believe carried even those who coasted through it at first into a world far from Liberty, Missouri.”
The simulation was based on the real story of a Congolese family who was chased from their home and eventually resettled in Kansas City four months ago.
“The People Teams ministry of BRKC is focused on mobilizing the church to minister to internationals in Kansas City with the Gospel and love of Jesus through personal relationships,” Huesing said.
The purpose of the simulation experience was to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and prepare churches to minister to international people through the education of an unforgettable experience.
“I started realizing that the believers who were reaching out to refugees were struggling to connect,” Huesing said. “For one, our experience growing up in America and the journey that many refugees walk is so different that it’s hard to overcome that gap between us.”
He believes the simulation will give participants an experience they can pull from as they seek to build friendships with refugees in their communities.
Huesing said God alone orchestrated the November event that brought together 50 volunteers and experts who worked to make the simulation as “real” as possible. Volunteers acted as thieves, smugglers, aid workers and other roles to simulate the real situations Kansas City refugees have encountered.
He credits Erik Odegard, the director of the International Mission Board’s FUSION training project, Rodney Hammer, Director of Missions for BR-KC, Scott Brawner, CEO of Concilium, Inc., a missionary security company that often uses role-play training, Caitlin Schrader, who led much of the training, New Directions Church, and Becca Simmons, Worlds of Fun make-up artist, as key players in making the simulation a success.
“God opened many crucial doors for this event,” Huesing said. “We needed at least ten acres in the country where no one would mind if we chased people with AK’s, set off explosions, erected a cluttered refugee camp and had dozens of vehicles parking in their front yard. That same day, Scott Brawner asked me if I wanted to use their land. I want God to get the focus and the glory because He really did bring some high quality pieces and just what we needed for such an endeavor.”
After the event, Huesing heard from participants who had no initial interest in the global refugee crisis about how they now saw it through fresh eyes.
“As a result of the day, one couple is now using their place of employment to host evening English classes for Swahili-speaking women,” Huesing said. “Time will only tell what will come from the training, but I am convinced God was leading us to do it and He will use it how He wants to.”
The BR-KC People Teams plans to host another Refugee Simulation in September 2017 or earlier, Huesing said, if the demand is there. For more information on future simulation events or current refugee ministry contact Andrew Huesing at firstname.lastname@example.org