This article was originally published in the February 2016 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Just before Christmas, a Nebraska family contacted ITMI Director, Steve Evers. They wanted to help ITMI partners to have a big impact in their communities for Christmas.
So Steve asked some ITMI partners, “If you had some money, what would you do to reach your community with the Good News?”
Christmas is a time of year when many who would otherwise be uninterested in things of God are more receptive to His message. So whatever their resources, ITMI partners are often found creatively designing ways to reach people around them this time of year.
The result? A big, big difference.
The Le Roux family is ministering in remote Onseepkans, South Africa. The culture in this area is tough to illuminate with words. But there is deep-seeded suspicion of just about everything and everyone. The Le Roux family has done so much to be agents of the flourishing of this area, but much of their efforts have been met with suspicion and fear.
The le Roux Family
For example, there is still much separation between whites and non-whites. It’s not uncommon for a non-white to be fearful of having a meal at a white person’s home, probably because it’s quite unheard of.
The generous Christmas gift from the ITMI supporter allowed Gerhard to demonstrate the equal value God places on His image bearers of all skin pigments.
A couple days before Christmas, the Le Roux family shared a Christmas meal with the elders of the church in the neighboring town of Pofadder and some of the members of their own church in Onseepkans. Ties were strengthened by the warm family atmosphere of the evening.
The LeRouxs also gave a Christmas meal for local police, clinic workers and other community leaders including the Mayor. The evening was full of recurring conversations about community problems.
The family had multiple opportunities to share how the Gospel is the answer to these challenges and felt blessed to have a role in bringing local branches of government together who never really worked together before.
One policeman said afterward that he is “very thankful to experience the presence of the Lord,” when he enters the Onseepkans Mission property.
They were also able to contribute to an annual local event for the elderly as well as bless the very thankful children that regularly attend their church.
One of the le Roux girls offering a gift to a participant in the event for the elderly of Onseepkans.
The event included food and a showing of the Jesus film in their language, after which 130 began a relationship with Jesus.
Kawede says, “They understood that Jesus who was born in the movie really loves them by providing food and soda,” because it was explained to them that people who follow Jesus provided for the event.
“They understood that Jesus who was born in the movie really loves them by providing food and soda,” because it was explained to them that people who follow Jesus provided for the event.
Jahim Buli, ITMI partner in South Sudan was able to use the gift to bless orphans in a refugee camp.
First, Jahim told them, “Even though you don't have parents, God still loves so much that, this Christmas God remembered you by touching one of my friend’s heart to bless you with this gift of clothes.''
Jahim gives orphans the gift of clothing.
Seeing one girl in tears, Jahim asked her why she was crying. She said, ‘'I and my brothers were going to celebrate the birth of Jesus without clothes, (as their parents used to do for them) but today God has remembered us.''
Even Jahim broke into tears when all the children prayed to God saying, “God, remember the person who sent us these clothes and bless him as He has remembered us in Jesus’ name.''
Jahim says, “I want to say thank you for blessing these orphans with what you have given. Be assured that what you have done is not in vain but you are harvesting to your eternity.”
Jahim and Gisma Buli, serving in South Sudan.
Timothy and Ashley Keller in Kabwe, Zambia, were able to meet a big need for a local ministry they partner with. This is their description.
The Keller Family, serving in Zambia.
This Advent Season we were able to help the Deaf House, a ministry we partner with in Kabwe. They provide a home, meals, and education for 26 people, including 13 children. Most of the members of their home are deaf.
There are very few opportunities for the deaf in Zambia. Most receive little education and are forced into horrible circumstances in order to survive.
The Deaf House is a Christ-centered, safe home where every possible opportunity to be discipled and educated is made available.
For Christmas we wanted to help in a practical way that would contribute to the development of their farm home and everyone who stays there. One of their biggest needs at the moment is electrical power.
Because they are not yet connected to the grid, all their water for nearly 50 people is pulled up by hand from a well in the back yard. Through the Christmas gift made possible by ITMI supporters we are able to install a basic solar system that will help them pump water to their home.
The provision of water has blessed every single member of this ministry and home, and they send their very sincere and humble thanks. Our family also thanks you for allowing us to be your hands and the breath of life to this amazing ministry.”
Residents of the Deaf Home with the new solar panel.
ITMI’s Charl van Wyk ministers and serves in South Africa. One of the things he is involved with is a group of believers who have come together and adopted an impoverished community called Stone Hill.
Charl explains the impact he saw made through this gift best.
We were blown away at the kindness of the ITMI partners who blessed our ministry in Stone Hill with funds for Christmas gifts for the at-risk children living in squalor.
The Christmas love boxes for boys and girls were handed out after I preached at our open air service in Stone Hill, the Sunday before Christmas.
The normally noisy, hyperactive children got really quiet when I explained to them that, although the gifts they were receiving are free, someone had to pay for it.
The youth were intrigued by the fact that anyone would work hard to bless them. I then explained that although we have a free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, He also paid, with His life, to make this possible for us.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
Our Stone Hill children were blessed even more when beautiful mattresses were distributed from the same funds.
One girl, Siyamthanda, which means "we love you", told us how she made her bed each night - she slept on a folded blanket on the ground of her tin shanty home - no mattress - no pillow.
Tefo, a young orphan boy, lived with his sister and her boyfriend; the boyfriend has kicked him out of their tin shanty home. He now sleeps on the ground (soil floor) wherever he can beg a roof over his head. Tefo received a mattress. He has just made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ at our Stone Hill boy's camp this month!!
Twenty-year-old Nokubonga, also has no family. Her mother died 3 years ago. She moved in with her boyfriend after having nowhere else to go. He beat her so badly that she was unable to write her school final exams at the end of 2015. She now stays in a one room shack with acquaintances, but is trying to find a place of safety. After receiving the mattress from our ITMI partners she no longer has to share a bed with two other people.
It is pretty much the norm to find 2-3 people sharing a single bed mattress in a tin shack. These children can now, with their new mattress gifts, get a good night’s sleep - we can only imagine how much better they will do at school - not being woken up multiple times a night by sharing.
It is quite funny that the police stopped my brother-in-law, Bradley, when helping with the mattress distribution in Stone Hill – they thought he might be peddling drugs amongst the shacks.
In Africa ‘gifts’ create empathy, signal hope of good future relations and open doors of the heart very wide.
The message regarding gifts is really starting to hit home: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Words cannot express effectively the thanks we’d like to convey to the ITMI partners who have blessed us all so much.
Stone Hill girls with their love boxes.
Charl van Wyk (far left) with Stone Hill youth and the mattress gifts.
So happy to receive a mattress!
ITMI partners, Paul and Molly in India live in a place that was recently hit by a cyclone. This resulted in flooding that reached 10 feet in some places. Most of the people in their church lost their homes.
Flooded streets in India.
Of course this disaster affected the poor and afflicted more than anyone else.
“We were in crisis mode,” Molly says. They were using their ministry market to provide food bags for as many as they could. Where they are, no one takes responsibility for the poor.
Molly with the staff of their ministry's market.
Molly added that it’s, “hard to live with injustice up close,” so this gift was an answer to their cries to God regarding the injustice they saw around them.
They were able to extend the relief they could offer to many who were in desperate situations.
Each sacrifice - no matter the size or volume - makes a big impact in the hands of the Savior who fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. Each of you, sacrificing for the love of Jesus is making a big difference around the world every day. We’re honored to partner with every single one of you!
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.