ZAMBIA - 2012
THE VILLAGERS DASHED MADLY for their huts.
They had caught one glimpse of the initial brownish-grey clean-out water spilling from the head of the newly drilled well. Moments later, they returned with the various makeshift containers, ready to collect the contaminated water.
They were overjoyed to have this brownish-grey life-supporting fluid flowing from the strange contraption so close to their huts.
The drilling crew was still finishing the job.
They were using the gas-powered pump to purge the pipes of the sandy, clay-filled dirt left in the system from the installation. It wouldn’t be long before clean, sweet water - clear in color - would be drawn up from the depths of the earth and into their vessels.
The remote village in Zambia where ITMI drilled a well giving them access to clean, safe water.
It wouldn’t be long before clean, sweet water - clear in color - would be drawn up from the depths of the earth and into their vessels.
Out in the vacuum of knowledge and growth that surrounds and isolates these simple villagers, water is water. They didn't know the difference between brown, polluted water and clean water.
Similarly, inhabitants of remote villages often struggle to separate truth from deception, con-artists from shepherds and the Creator from their deceased ancestors.
After the pipes were cleared and the clean water flowed from the new borehole, ITMI’s Steve Evers told them about the living water that the Lord wants to offer them. Many responded with tears and declarations of their intent to follow Jesus.
Steve tells the villagers about the living water the Lord wants to give them.
The villagers respond in prayer.
The following year, Steve and an ITMI team returned to the same village to teach, encourage and disciple.
This time, the team brought a large, solar-powered Proclaimer from Faith Comes by Hearing, loaded with a recording of the New Testament in their own language, able to be amplified for a large group to hear God’s Word.
Steve presents the village with a Proclaimer, enabling them to listen to God's Word in their own language.
When they returned the third year, our team was elated by what they discovered!
There was a palpable difference in the atmosphere. Steve describes it as a noticeable lack of tension. Peace. The kind made possible by God’s Spirit.
Even the primitive straw and mud structures had been noticeably improved upon. It seemed that as the Spirit gained influence in their lives, the chaos and destruction of Animism was losing ground to the intentionality and order God created humans to conduct our lives with.
The villagers demonstrated true joy and peace.
The ITMI team learned that three to four nights a week, most of the small, remote village gathered to listen to the New Testament read aloud from this strange “black speaking box” in a language they could understand!
The Father, in His sovereign goodness was preparing the village for what was about to happen.
A delegate from another denomination was sent to plant a church in this village. The “pastor” came with all the elements needed to win the reverence of most African villagers; funds to construct a structure, a title, and a group of people who sent him.
But what he taught was contrary to what they’d heard directly from God's Word. The villagers told him so, and most declined to attend.
It’s fairly well-known that it is easy to con rural dwellers. They have little knowledge and no literature with which to prove you wrong.
In the same year, an entrepreneur from Nigeria set up shop in this village. Among other things, his trading post sold home made alcohol, in hopes of creating a loyal (addicted) client base.
He was surprised to discover that these villagers could not be coaxed and manipulated into building his fortune. These villagers knew God’s Word and avoided falling prey to the trappings of the drink.
SOUTH SUDAN, 2018
IT WASN’T WHAT YOU’D EXPECT PENNILESS refugees returning home to ask for.
When our South Sudanese partner, Lazarus Yezinai, passed it along, we weren’t sure we’d read it properly.
What you’d expect them to say was, “Feed us?! Provide for our children?!”
After all, the situation they returned to was bleak. The job market was non-existent. Fields of crops had been ravaged. Roads were muddy, flooded and impassible, preventing outside aid from reaching them.
With little to eat and no available jobs, their request wasn’t for food or money.
It was for access to God’s Word, and the opportunity to learn from it on a regular basis.
God’s Word gave them hope. It crystallized a clear path through the fog of pain, past trauma, and uncertainty. They recognized those lasting gifts were better than a meal that lasts only a few hours.
ITMI's Lazarus Yezinai returned to Bor to teach the SALT material last month.
THE BRIGHT AUTUMN SUN HIGHLIGHTED THE sea of golden jumpers and gowns in the Kauga Prison courtyard.
The crowd of prisoners listened intently as ITMI’s Muhindo Kawede brilliantly helped his incarcerated audience connect with a famous prisoner, a murderer widely recognized for the Spirit’s use of him to spread the Good News to the ends of the ancient known world. An author whose work still shapes our modern society.
Prisoners in Uganda listen as Kawede preaches.
This historic author’s message contained exceptionally Good News for this demographic in particular.
Their pasts - however dark - won’t stop the Almighty from erasing their sin, forgiving them, adopting them and using them mightily for His Kingdom. If He can do that with the Apostle Paul, He is more than able to do it for them.
If there were ever a place that needed followers of Jesus to live as citizens of His coming Kingdom, it’s African prisons.
Necessities aren’t provided for detainees, creating a scarcity-driven ecosystem where it must seem like only the strongest and most feared survive.
Muhindo Kawede was delivering this message of hope at a graduation ceremony for 63 of the prisoners who attended the International School of Missions’ Portable Bible School, a basic but comprehensive theology course, delivered right inside the lock-up walls.
Learning solid Biblical doctrine illuminated by experienced and well-studied teachers was life-changing for the convicts who attended.
One prisoner said, “It’s through this Portable Bible School I felt loved and valued...this Bible school has given me a reason to live again instead of suicidal thoughts that kept ringing into my head.”
Another commented that the course, “helped me understand the love of God for men.”
Following the course, the International School of Missions was asked by officials to plant a Sunday gathering - a worship service - inside Kauga prison. The first meeting took place in January.
Kawede preaches at a Kauga Sunday gathering.
As the Holy Spirit pushes this outreach into Almighty-sized accomplishments, Kawede has an urgent request.
The graduates need Bibles. They are excited to discover more from God’s Word after getting a taste of its goodness. They are eager to study, but most don’t have a copy of the Lord’s revelation of Himself to mankind.
Kawede can put as many as we can fund in the hands of inmates.
We can purchase a printed copy of the Bible in Uganda for $25.00 USD. Last month, another round of the Portable Bible School began in Kauga. There is also talk of offering this highly effective Bible course in a maximum security prison with a population of 10,000 later this year.
Our conclusion? Well, it’s something Isaiah recorded long ago. Like the rain and snow does not return to the heavens without making the earth bud and flourish, when God’s Word goes out, it will not fail to accomplish God’s purposes. (Isaiah 55:10)
Banking on this promise, we would like to keep putting printed and audio Bibles in the hands of those who seek to know the King of Kings more deeply. If you agree, you can help our partners place a Bible in the hands of someone who needs one with a gift of $25 for a printed Bible and $55 USD for an audio Bible.
Getting God’s Word into the right hands is a guaranteed investment. He promises it will not return empty.
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.