This article was originally published in the November 2017 edition of ITMI Monthly.
It was the morning 100 Indian pastors and their wives had looked forward to with anticipation for a long time. But things weren’t going as planned.
They were gathered in a city in southern India for 3 days of encouragement, time in God’s Word, input from other godly men, passionate teachers from the US and time to enjoy and be uplifted just by being together.
They were given this opportunity by a small, inner-city church in Phoenix, Arizona called North Village Baptist Church, who partnered with ITMI to help our partner in India, Paul, impact these 100 villages in India and expand his influence.
100 Indian pastors and their wives gathered for 3 days of encouragement from passionate teachers from the US.
ITMI's Paul and Molly with their 23 children.
Women from Paul's church, Harvest Bible Chapel, that helped with the conference.
North Village Baptist Church is a small but mighty church, led by Pastor Phil McKeown.
They raised the funds for the 3 day conference, and for the carefully selected team that included Pastor Phil and ITMI’s Steve Evers, to travel to India to provide it. The church organized a golf tournament to fund most of the conference.
Any rural indian pastorate couple would look forward to such a treat.
But these servants shepherd in rural villages and communities, where they can’t easily reach out for support and encouragement. They are extra isolated from others, but also from books, articles and other encouragement of that form.
Pastor Phil McKeown with one of the pastorate couples.
They face the persecution and the constant rejection, demeaning and discouragement that comes from the surrounding Hindu community’s estrangement and disdain.
The first evening, things were not looking good.
Both pastor Phil and Steve had been in their rooms with a knock-down drag-out case of the Indian flu. Neither had eaten or left their beds for 2 days. Even Paul wasn’t feeling very well.
Steve is no stranger to pushing through not feeling well when he travels, but Paul wasn’t sure either would be able to teach their sessions that evening.
Pastor Phil was able to pull himself together to give his opening sessions. The pastors were touched and blessed that he would still show up and teach while so ill.
Steve somehow got himself to his afternoon session.
You won’t believe what happened next!
“As soon as I got up to teach, I felt totally normal and empowered!” Steve said. Paul said he couldn’t tell at all that Steve had been unable to get out of bed just hours before!
The lesson Steve taught from the SALT material was on rejection, which was especially relevant for the context this crowd faces.
Steve taught that though our flinch is to reject back, as believers, we can continue loving those who reject us by recognizing who we are in Christ. We have a good Father who has adopted us and calls us His own.
Paul felt that this lesson truly went to the core and tenderized the hearts of those listening.
Rural pastors enjoying the 3-day conference.
ITMI’s David and Taru Kumar, who minister in Bangalore, India, traveled to Paul and Molly’s city for the conference. They were impressed by the effectiveness of the SALT material.
David would like to get it translated into Kerala, the language of the rural pastors he disciples, so he can share it with them. He believes it will truly revolutionize their churches and ministries.
ITMI's Steve Evers with David and Taru Kumar.
“How many people speak Kerala?” Steve asked.
“70 million,” was David’s staggering reply.
None of this would have happened without the advocacy and passion from the faithful of North Village Baptist Church and from you.
It was with your prayers that the Spirit empowered our team to overcome obstacles and do what they came to do. We cannot emphasize enough how grateful we are for your prayer, advocacy and support!
How can you partner with us?
Prayer - The prayer support we receive isn’t secondary to any other need. It’s crucial. Our partners face third-world dangers such as dangerously unregulated traffic, rampant crime and violence, social and political persecution, sickness. The prayers of God’s people are vital in their survival!
Be a Cheerleader - We believe everyone knows someone who knows someone who is looking for ways to be involved with God’s work. Would you keep your ears open and share our partners’ stories?
Partner Financially - If God lays it on your heart, help the Paul and Mollys, the David and Tarus, or the many other national partners we serve who are working faithfully where God has called them with financial support.
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.