This article was originally published in the April 2019 edition of ITMI Monthly.
After narrowly escaping arrest in South Sudan, many might decide not to go back. But a return mission trip to Uganda and South Sudan is currently in the works for ITMI’s Steve Evers and Kent Reisenauer.
Why risk entering a corrupt third world country where you can get arrested for recording a video interview with a friend at her house?
A shot from the video of Vicky sharing about her ministry Steve was recording when he and Kent almost got arrested.
Simply stated, the benefits are far-reaching and numerous.
On that trip alone, their visit resulted in:
- Increased security and privacy for our partner, Vicky Waraka and the 5 orphaned teenage girls she has taken into her modest two-room mud home with a small private restroom facility and fences and home walls offering more effective protection.
- 125 impoverished women gaining first-time understanding of Biblical principles for money and finance immediately impacting how they make life choices. The message held authority in their eyes coming from an American.
- ITMI supporters and other believers gaining the opportunity to pray for the specific needs of our partners and other followers of Jesus in South Sudan.
- Delivery of small but important items affecting our partners’ ability to minister, like the small solar powered LED light Kent and Steve gave to our partner, Lazarus Yezinai, allowing him and his “family" of 25 to study the Bible after dark in his home.
- Encouragement and rejuvenation for our South Sudanese partners who minister to the traumatized and suffering on a regular basis.
125 South Sudanese women soak up the life-changing concepts Steve and Lazarus are sharing.
Steve trains 125 women on Biblical financial principles in South Sudan.
Steve and Kent minister alongside Lazarus Yezinai in South Sudan. (2018)
When Steve visited our partners, David and Taru Kumar in India last year, they later wrote that the slum families they minister to “were so blessed and happy to get to know you [Steve], they want to talk to you some time.”
This led to additional influence with these Muslim families, which Steve used to point them to Jesus during a video call, greeting them during one of their Christmas celebrations.
Overall, these intentional mission trips have a wide range of multiplying and expanding benefits, but here are 7 of the most impactful.
ITMI partners get the benefit of a fresh perspective.
1. ITMI partners gain exposure to fresh perspective, discipleship and influence that is removed from their own culture.
We all get to where we can't see the forest for the trees, so having someone a little more removed from the situation provide Biblical insight is always a benefit.
Sometimes we are so entwined in our culture, a solution escapes us, but is obvious to someone outside that society.
2. Crucial encouragement for our partners.
Our partners, like so many believers in godless societies, face difficult situations regularly.
From lives ruined by war and violence, to spiritual oppression and darkness, to physical persecution and opposition, to the pain of disunity between them and other believers, it’s not easy serving in the field.
Site visits remind them that God’s people are with them. Last August, Johan Leach wrote from his ministry base in remote Zambia, “With Steve and Kent’s visit we know that ITMI has our interest [ensuring the expansion of the gospel in the Luvale plains] at heart.”
3. Often, a foreigner’s voice lends credibility to the message and the person, increasing our partners’ influence.
One of our Indian partners, Paul, is fully qualified and effective at equipping pastors.
Those who participate in one of several trainings Paul does each year can’t say enough good things about how thankful they are to have been there. Even so, Paul likes Steve to teach training sessions when he visits because a foreigner’s voice increases the credibility and the impact of the message.
Paul and Steve work together to make maximum impact at a pastor training conference.
Sometimes, just being seen with a foreigner opens new avenues of influence, giving our partners an expanded platform from which to share the Gospel.
4. Site visits reveal things that aren’t obvious in email and video.
For example, while visiting David and Taru, Steve witnessed a debilitating health issue Taru endures due to the heat in her area.
He gave her a cooling towel that cost less than $20 and has made a huge impact on her ability to minister. Something like this wouldn’t come up in an email, but is revealed with in-person contact.
Taru with the towel Steve gave her.
5. Site visits provide donors and potential donors peace of mind.
We know our donors and partners take stewardship seriously, and you want to know that your sacrificial gifts are having an impact and being used as we say they are being used.
Every time we visit, we bring back stories, photos and testimonies that your gifts are indeed making a big difference. This accountability both offers a benefit for you and protects our partners.
6. Delivering items that expand ministry opportunities and sustain our partners.
Last year, Excellence Christian Academy was able to launch a desperately needed staff retention program by rewarding instructors who stay with the school, despite the unrelenting draw of higher paying opportunities, with reconditioned laptops.
Steve encouraging ECA staff members before presenting laptops to those who have served faithfully.
This wonderfully effective solution to a problem ECA has dealt with since its inception was possible because Steve and Kent carried the laptops with them to Zambia.
Our site visits also provide for the delivery of items like pillowcase dresses, blankets and knitted hats, lovingly handmade to clothe young at-risk girls in villages, protecting them from the elements and other dangers of exposure as well as helping them understand that they are valued and beautiful to the Lord.
A young couple blessed with a baby blanket handmade in the States and delivered by Steve on his visit.
Young zambian villager happy with her colorful, new pillowcase dress.
The lovingly hand-made dresses, made by kind women in the US and brought to this remote zambian village by our ITMI team were great cause for delight for these young girls.
7. Site visits provide the opportunity to see godly national workers in action over years, yielding new and fruitful partnerships.
Before we present a partner to you as worthy of your partnership with them and their ministry, we’ve observed them serving for some time.
Perhaps they’ve served alongside one of our partners, as was the case with our South Sudanese partner, Lazarus, who ministered to the same community as Vicky for years before he became an ITMI partner.
Sometimes, we’ve entrusted them with a small amount of funding for a very specific use and intentionally observed that they can be trusted to use the funds as agreed upon.
Other times, they’ve proven themselves faithful through other demonstrations. But without site visits, we couldn’t begin this journey alongside godly, faithful nationals who are reaching their communities for Jesus.
Without these mission trips, we couldn’t begin this journey alongside godly, faithful nationals who are reaching their communities for Jesus.
There is one problem with these high value site visits, though.
Travel tends to be expensive. And while our teams are budget conscious and work to keep expenses low, there’s no getting around rising airfares and the accompanying, unavoidable baggage and miscellaneous fees.
We thought you’d like to know that on average, these visits cost around $5000 depending on the length and type of trip, and that we could use help in making them happen.
Would you prayerfully consider helping us fund these benefit-rich ministry opportunities over and above whichever partners or projects you support?
Any amount toward our missionary trips would help us better multiply all that ITMI and our partners are called to do.
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.