Thursday, March 10, 2016

Short Trip to Tobo

It is hard to believe that we have been home over 6 years now.  So much has changed… I celebrated 2 years as the local mission pastor at Elmbrook Church, Kellie has been working for 2 years at a local charitable foundation, the 2 oldest kids are in High School, Malachi is in junior high, and we have adopted Hezekiah (now 2 years old) out of the foster system!  (This was the year of the #2)

For many years, you prayed for us, supported us, visited us, and encouraged us as we ministered to the Tobo people of Papua New Guinea.  We did not leave under the best of circumstances, but God has been faithful to heal the wounds and begin the process of reconciliation.  After much prayer and patience, we have decided that at the end of April, Micah and I will be heading back to PNG in order to reunite with our co-workers, the Mankins, and to travel back into the tribe.  I have been communicating with Chad Mankins lately, and he is excited to have us visit.  His family moved out of the tribe and settled in town where Chad continues to plug away at the translation of the NT, which is going very well.

Our plan is to travel into the tribe with Chad for a few days of conversation and fellowship.  I am not certain as to what kind of reception we will have, but after a handful of failed attempts over the past few years, I sense that this is the right time for us to return.  The hopes for this trip would be at the very least, to reconnect with old friends, share stories, and put closure to our time there.  The best case scenario would be to gather as many of the believers together as we could and see the church healed and reunited.  That is asking a lot, but then again, I’ve seen God do more amazing things than that in the past. 

Because you were so invested in this ministry, I am writing to ask each of you to pray for us.  Pray for a good reception.  Pray for healing conversations.  Pray for reconciliation.  I know that our leaving probably hurt a number of people, so pray for receptive hearts.  And most importantly, pray that we would be able to encourage and promote the ministry of the Mankins there in Toboland.  They have had a number of set-backs over this past year, and I’d like our visit to be a shot in the arm for them.

Some have asked how they could give a gift towards this endeavor, for this, we would be grateful, but because this is not considered a group mission trip, I will not be able to provide a tax deductible receipt.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for keeping us in your prayers.

His Clay Pots,

Jason for the Knapps

Friday, January 10, 2014

Year End Review

It has been awhile since I posted.  That is mostly because it has been an amazing and busy year.  Let me describe some of what we have been doing this past year as an immigration office.

This has been our first full year of operation at James Place Immigration Services.  I want to give God all the glory for allowing us the privilege and blessing of being able to participate in the following:
  • Interact with 150+ clients from 25 different countries
  • Officially take on 90 Immigration cases
  • Have 3 volunteers become official BIA Accredited Representatives
  • Log an average of 20 hours of work per application
  • Meet with one Congressman and one Senator
  • Have a site visit from the Congressman's chief case worker
  • Participate when World Relief invited church representatives from all over the nation to an Immigration Training hosted by Elmbrook Church, which included a tour of James Place to see how our Immigration Services function
  • Have successfully closed 35 cases
  • See a number of new immigrant faces at Elmbrook Church
  • Receive referrals from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Milwaukee
  • Pray with each client at the close of our meetings
  • Trust God on a daily basis for wisdom and discretion and watch him provide
What an amazing first year, and I cannot begin to imagine the blessings God has in store for our wonderful group of volunteer staff as we continue to display the love of Jesus to the nations in our own backyard.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reason #3 - Responsibility

Why should we as Christians be concerned with the immigration debate and desire a change in the immigration law?
Reason #3:  Because it is our Christian responsibility.

"Well, so what?  The immigration laws don't affect me, so what is the big deal?  In fact, I think everyone should just go back to where they came from.  I'm not getting involved in that hot topic." 

It is sad, but this is the stance that many Christians take when asked about their position on immigration.  They become edgy, defensive, and accusatory.  Many think our nation would be better without those who are different.  How selfish.  We should care about the topic because the immigration law affects many of those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  And, "...when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer."

It is true, our current immigration laws and systems need a serious overhaul.  I have to work with what is there every day; and simply put, our system is full of injustice and complication, which leads to broken families, heartache, victimization, subclasses in our society, and a nation that can't seem to offer dignity to those who are different than themselves.

Why does this concern me as a Christian?  It should concern us because, as the hands and feet of Jesus, we have an obligation to aid the victims of injustice.  As those who love our neighbors as ourselves, we should consider the rights of others more than our own rights.  We should put the interests of others above the interests of ourselves (Philippians 2).  It should concern us because we should stand up for justice, fair laws, and righteousness.  We are to be the voice of those who have no voice.  Granted, there are many things about our nation which are not just, fair, or right, but we need to take a stand on something.  Why not take a stand on immigration, since it affects many of those who are sitting in the pews next to us at church on Sunday. 

I challenge those of you who have a heart for immigrants, to act on your convictions.  Contact your representative, inform your peers, speak the truth, assist those who are caught in impossible situations.  Do this in the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Reason #2: Integrity

Why should we as Christians be concerned with the immigration debate and be supportive of proper change in the immigration system?
Reason #2: Integrity - Our nation is sending a mixed message.

All nations and kingdoms reserve the right to determine who and how an individual can come across their borders. It is a responsibility and necessity of the government of that nation to protect the people of that nation, and protecting the borders has always been fundamental. In ancient days, some cities would build enormous walls and station guards at iron gates to allow the citizens free passage and to keep out undesirables. Other cities would not have walls, and had a more 'open border' policy. There are pros and cons to each scenario. One is exclusive while the other is inclusive.

In my understanding, the reputation of the United States, as a nation, has always been welcoming and inclusive; promoting 'Freedom and Justice for all'. I always considered our nation to have fairly 'open borders', a relatively simple process of joining our ranks - pretty much, just show up. Right? Well, not necessarily anymore. In the past, this may have been true... but that was long ago. In theory we remain open-armed; yet, as one starts to study and learn the immigration laws and policies of our nation, one quickly realizes that, in practice, we are exclusive.

"How can you say that when we have representatives from every nation on the earth living within our borders?" And isn't Emma Lazarus' poem, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." engraved on our Statue of Liberty. Yes, this is true.  But, we no longer have an "Ellis Island" approach to immigration, where anyone and everyone (poor, tired, and huddled) can simply arrive on a boat and pass through the border. Now there are long lines - people waiting years and decades - to process into the US... but those people are the fortunate ones who have family members on the 'inside' and who pass admissibility criterion. Unless you have a relation to someone in the US or you have an incredible skill or lots of money, you have an extremely low probability of ever being able to immigrate into our country. 

In reality, we have very little room for the poor and huddled masses. Although I am grateful that our nation welcomes the highest number of refugees of any other nation in the world, I personally think we could do better.  As a matter of integrity, our reality should reflect our reputation.