This article was originally published in the September 2018 edition of ITMI Monthly.
The Cold War was at its strongest.
Bill and Harriett Bathman, ITMI’s founders, spent many years and a lot of kilometers behind the communist iron curtain in Eastern Europe. Bill realized that our “family” of believers in those communist countries were being persecuted, imprisoned and oppressed for their stand and service to Jesus Christ.
Many of these brothers and sisters were told they couldn’t go to school or work because of their insistence on standing faithful to their Lord and Savior.
Bill wanted to address their multiple layers of poverty. So, Bill would come to the U.S., stand in pulpits and share,
“…I visit and encourage [our brothers and sisters in Christ] behind the iron curtain, I cannot tell you what country [they are in], what city, what [exact]ministry or even their [real] name…but…if you want to help me help them minister in places, I will make sure what you give will get to them.”
Bill was able to help handfuls of pastors and their families with many gifts and items that they would never have been able to purchase or acquire on their own.
Much ministry was completed in those oppressive times because of the generosity and understanding of the American Body of Christ, even though most will never know the name or county where their funds actually went.
ITMI Founder, Bill Bathman in Romania with Christian leaders and pastors helped behind the iron curtain.
This understanding and trust that God was in control allowed many persecuted believers to be cared for and blessed immensely.
On my last two trips to South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and South Africa, and in my discussions with our Indian partners, I was told numerous times that persecution and opposition is growing.
Steve and Kent with ITMI partner, Eugene Kalunga on their recent visit to Zambia and South Africa.
What is impacting our partners in the field are antagonists who are disgruntled and even angry who want to throw their weight around and attack those that are doing good work and serving the needy in the local communities.
Many times they just want someone to berate, but have little interest in offering help or solutions themselves.
How are these antagonists getting their information about what our ministries are doing and who is involved?
In this information age, it’s all at their fingertips.
From social media accounts to our own website, even truthful portrayals of real needs - being communicated to you so that you have the opportunity to get involved - are being used, twisted and construed into baseless and sometimes hateful accusations.
Sincere godly missionaries who are going without, giving of their time, energy and resources to help those in need are being falsely accused of profiting from the suffering around them.
The enemy always comes to “kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), but the Lord came that we “might have life and have it more abundantly….”
Our partners want to share the abundant life they’ve found in Christ. Anyone that is following the true gospel wants to give life. Those that accuse, stir up trouble and hinder God’s people are not committed to giving life.
Many of our partners are in such sensitive areas that sometimes they ask us to not share this story or that story, or feature it in a medium that will be put on the internet.
That means that you don’t always hear all that is going on because if we gave you the real story and included specific details, it would surely be twisted and used against the missionary.
This is one reason why many supporters so enjoy getting to spend in-person time with our partners when they are on this side of the ocean. They get a much fuller picture of what is happening.
A group from the US enjoys a Friday evening with ITMI's Dr. Piotr Zaremba, Steve Evers and Gary Howell.
Steve Evers and all of ITMI are committed to continuing to help our projects. The ones that are in the sensitive and difficult areas are often the ones that need the most help.
We will still stand with them and do our best to not compromise what it is that God has called them to do. When we have to limit some of what we say or even generalize some of our details in future publications, we hope you will understand, read between the lines and contact us with questions.
Rest assured, we will still be going and seeing first-hand what the needs are and we will share these needs as best we can so you can catch a vision of what God is doing, yet still protect our people and their ministries.
Please pray that we can communicate what God is doing with sufficient details to encourage the saints like you, while protecting our brothers and sisters who willingly follow Jesus into the face of opposition.
In His Service,
About the Author
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.