It’s both our mission and our privilege at World Relief Upstate SC to empower local churches throughout the Upstate to share the love of Jesus with our refugee and immigrant neighbors in both word and deed.
As local churches seek to welcome, serve and learn from their refugee and immigrant neighbors, many encounter challenges that prevent our new neighbors from fully integrating and flourishing in our communities. We invite you to join us for a conversation in exploring how the church and the local community can provide love, welcome and support to our newest neighbors through advocating for their holistic well-being as they struggle with unique vulnerabilities.
Join Bri Stensrud (Women of Welcome), Pastor Charles Kenya (Neema Church), Kristel Acevedo (Transformation Church), Dr. Tony Beam (North Greenville University), as well as Matthew Soerens and Todun Afolabi from World Relief as we explore God's heart for the sojourner and how we can share the love of Jesus to our neighbors in both word and deed.
Welcome - Brandon Baughn, Director, World Relief Upstate SC
Hebrews 13:2 - Pastor Charles Kenya, Neema Church
Immigration As a Whole Life Issue - Bri Stensrud, Women of Welcome
Discussion: Balancing Justice and Compassion in the Immigration Debate
Q & A Session
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Bri Stensrud, Director of Women of Welcome
Bri Stensrud is an author, speaker, and human dignity advocate.
Her passion is to inspire and equip the Church to engage more tangibly within human dignity issues, living out a consistent and holistic pro-life ethic. She holds a Master's of Biblical and Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and lives in Colorado with her husband and two kids. Her children's book, The Biggest Best Light is available wherever books are sold. Find her commentary and resources on Instagram @Bri.Stenz and @womenofwelcome.
PREACHER: Dr. Charles Kenya, Pastor, Neema Church
Charles Kenya was born in Kenya. He taught high school Kiswahili and Christian Religious Education in Kenya for 12 years. Charles and his wife Amilliah first came to the USA to minister in a church in Garwin, Iowa in 2001. Charles and his family moved permanently to the USA to study chiropractic medicine in 2002.
In 2016 he joined a group of immigrants from Africa to start Neema Church in Spartanburg, SC. He has been a co-pastor of Neema since its inception to date. This is a Kiswahili speaking congregation. The Lord has continuously blessed and grown the church. The church currently meets at The Bridge at Green Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Sunday mornings.
Charles Kenya and his wife Amilliah Kenya have a chiropractic practice in Spartanburg. They also teach at Sherman College of Chiropractic.
They have been blessed with three children and three grandchildren.
MODERATOR: Todun Afolabi, US Volunteer Engagement Manager, World Relief
Todun Afolabi joined World Relief in 2018, starting as the Church and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator with World Relief Chicagoland and currently serving as the US Volunteer Engagement Manager, supporting volunteer engagement efforts across World Relief offices in the United States. With a background in law, she is passionate about humanitarian efforts and engaging communities in their stories of change.
Kristel Acevedo, Spiritual Formation Director at Transformation Church
Kristel Acevedo is the Spiritual Formation Director at Transformation Church in Indian Land, South Carolina.
Originally from Miami and the daughter of immigrants, she has a passion for discipleship, biblical literacy, multiethnic ministry, and helping others develop a biblical view on immigration.
Kristel graduated with a BA in Psychology from Florida International University in 2007. She went on to complete her Master's of Arts from Southeastern Seminary in 2010. Kristel is currently working towards her Doctor of Ministry degree at Wheaton College Graduate School.
Kristel has the honor of being married to her husband, Alex, and they have two kids, Liam and Isabel.
Keep up with Kristel on social media (@KristelAce) or on her website: KristelAcevedo.com
Dr. Tony Beam, Senior Director of Church and Community Engagement at North Greenville University
Dr. Tony Beam is the Senior Director of Church and Community Engagement and Public Affairs at North Greenville University. He is the Host of the podcast Christian Worldview with Dr. Tony Beam. He serves as the Director of the Office of Public Policy for the South Carolina Baptist Convention and is Interim Pastor at Five Forks Baptist Church in Simpsonville.
Dr. Beam serves as Board Chairman of the Palmetto Family Council and is on the Board of Upstate Homeschool Co-op and the Christian Learning Center of Greenville. He represents South Carolina as a Trustee for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Dr. Beam has been married to Denise for 42 years and loves to spend time with his three children and nine grandchildren.
Matthew Soerens, Senior VP of Advocacy & Policy, World Relief
Matthew Soerens serves as the SVP of Advocacy & Policy for World Relief. He is also the National Coordinator for the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition that advocates for immigration reforms consistent with biblical values, led by World Relief along with partners like the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and various other national Christian organizations.
Matt is a graduate of Wheaton College, where he has also served as a guest faculty member in the Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership program, and earned a Master’s degree from DePaul University’s School of Public Service. He lives in Aurora, Illinois with his wife Diana and their four children.