This article was originally published in the May 2017 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Hosting an overseas worker while they are here in the U.S. may not seem like a big contribution to God’s Kingdom.
BUT IT IS!
Here are just five of the many ways our partners have benefitted from their time in the States.
1 - Rest, relaxation and the chance to practice humility.
Most of our partners are constantly bombarded by needs in their roles as spiritual leaders or pastors. In the field, they are surrounded by a high volume of needs, so they are constantly serving.
Being away for a short time gives them a necessary break from that.
Andrew Gorski shared he values the time away from the day to day work because it provides, “time to think things through.”
In the field, our partners are used to being valued for meeting needs. But everyone needs to practice the humility it takes to be served, too.
Admitting our own need is a primary practice for every Christian. Being here gives them that important opportunity.
While ITMI’s Johan Leach was driving from the East Coast to Arizona with Steve Evers last month, countless believers in many states served him, and he is going back to western Zambia recharged and fired up.
Johan's ministry is to bring the gospel to extremely isolated villages in western Zambia.
2 - A taste of Christianity from a different perspective.
It’s as beneficial for them to taste our brand of Christianity as it is for us to hear about theirs and the way those they serve practice it.
For example, hearing from our Polish workers how baptism into an Evangelical body of believers changes a Polish person’s family life forever because of the Polish opinion that evangelicals are a dangerous cult, sheds new light on our own faith.
ITMI's Piotr Zaremba baptizing new believers in Poland.
Listening to stories of the way African believers embrace God’s power to battle animistic influences stretches our understanding of who God is.
Discovering the Indian believers’ dependence on prayer and their faith that God will act challenges our own self-reliant, western mindset.
Discovering Indian believers dependence on prayer challenges our western, self-reliant mindset.
Overseas workers also benefit from experiencing our American brand of Christianity.
For example, it is often inspiring to see firsthand the evidence that God is at work here, too.
Johan shared, “As I trek across the States, meeting families and spending time with them, I stand in awe of the Greatness of our Lord’s Word when it speaks and confirms the teaching of ONE body, many parts co-working in one accord and that is to bring glory to Him and salvation to many through Him.”
3 - The joy of connecting with their partners.
It would be hard to overstate the high value our partners place on knowing they have a network of people behind them. Yes, financial support is part of that. But it’s really more about the sense that we are “with” them.
So getting to greet and fellowship in person with as many of the members of that lifeline as possible means a whole lot.
Daniel Machlowski said he was grateful for many opportunities to be in the Word, share testimonies and discuss the Gospel with American believers.
Piotr Zaremba said it means a lot to interact with people on a personal level and say “Thank you.” He enjoys deepening those friendships while he is here.
Andrew Gorski said, “It’s great to see the wonderful friends who pray for and support us. We feel they really love us.”
4 - Encouragement.
After visiting the States, our partners report they return home with fresh perspective on the challenges they face. They are rejuvenated by all the encouragement to press on in faithfulness.
“I was very encouraged as usual,” said Daniel of his time in the States, “To me, one month of encouragement in the States is like one year of encouragement in the field.”
After his time with one home fellowship group, Johan wrote that he “felt the love and family/friendship that permeates the Church where ever we go.”
A group from Arizona enjoying an evening of mutual encouragement and fun with ITMI's Piotr Zaremba, Steve Evers and Gary Howell.
5 - The thrill of encouraging others.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” (Jn 4:34)
It’s thrilling and filling to be used by the Spirit to encourage someone else and point them toward Jesus. Our partners are honored and excited to be an encouragement to you, too.
Over the course of getting to know one of his hosts, Johan was able to encourage them from an outside-the-box perspective with regard to a challenge they were facing in their own lives.
Piotr enjoys sharing ideas born on the mission field to encourage others, and Daniel was blessed by the opportunity to build up the kingdom work of those he met with here in the U.S.
ITMI's Piotr Zaremba enjoys sharing ideas born on the mission field.
How Hosts Benefit, Too!
Our partners are not the only ones who benefit. Those who host report that it is a wonderful experience and they learn a great deal.
Johan’s Pennsylvania hosts said, “Come back anytime!” They were blessed to be part of his U.S. visit.
Jon and Jamie Dekkers hosted Johan while he was in Arizona.
Jon shared, “Having a missionary stay in your home is an incredible experience and both I and my family have grown much through the experience. Johan was a lot of fun and we got to do some interesting things together.”
Johan and Jon know they will be life-long friends.
Of his time with Johan, Steve said, “Driving across country with Johan for 3 weeks, seeing him operate with absolute strangers, I feel like I’ve learned how to better engage. Johan showed me a whole new level of being intentional in engaging people. I learned a lot from him.”
Steve also shared he wishes everyone could have the opportunity to spend time in person with our partners.
“It’s such a blessing to hear Piotr Zaremba share the rich nuggets of Biblical truth he discovers in his translation work. So many nuances are lost in translation that bring added richness to the Bible,” Steve says.
“I would love for everyone to experience Andrew Gorski’s energy for reaching Poland for Christ,” he continues, “and Daniel’s passion to engage with everyone he meets and ask them, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ ”
About his experience hosting, Jon Dekkers reflected,
“I believe it gets you out of the rut thinking that we so easily can fall into.
The people on the front lines of Kingdom work have so much to share and teach us about God’s advancing kingdom. We can use that here and maybe even visit them as well and be a blessing to them, too.
I strongly urge fellow believers to share a meal, offer your home to them when they come to visit, and have your friends hear what they are doing. You will be blessed more than they are and help fulfill the call to share in the work to evangelize the world for Jesus.”
We’re truly grateful for those of you that hosted, met with or encouraged one or more of our partners during the recent wave of visits.
We have partners visiting year-round, so there will be plenty more opportunities to host and fellowship with our overseas workers.
It’s our hope that many more will be blessed by this opportunity in the future!
If you think you’d like to host or meet with one of our partners in the future, contact our office and let us know!
About the Authors
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 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.