This article was originally published in the September 2019 edition of ITMI Monthly.
“Perhaps it’s hard to believe, (or understand) but the misuse and wrong interpretation of the Bible often leads to domestic neglect and abuse in India,” writes our partner, Molly.
Molly continues, “It is commonplace and a great travesty leading to an unhealthy [emotional] dependence upon pastors. Our conferences and trainings [in India] continue each month, aiming to change that unpleasant reality.”
Her husband, Paul, has a burden for pastors in his country to know how to apply the Word of God in their homes and with their families. But this is a struggle even for those doing the shepherding.
At a marriage conference in Paul and Molly’s city for pastors and their wives in July, one pastor of 25 years testified, “I’m realizing I’ve never taken emotional responsibility for my family.”
As part of this training, Paul and Molly shared some examples from their own experience, alongside a couple who sacrificed their time and resources to come from America to bless these leaders and their wives with this learning opportunity.
ITMI's Paul and Molly
Another pastor, who has been married 35 years stood and said,
“I’ve been numb, I don’t know how to talk to my wife. I didn’t even know it was possible.” He cried and prayed, “God give me a heart to care for and understand my wife.”
His other half spoke up, “This is the first time I’m having hope. He’s never listened to me or my opinions. I just manage our house on my own and he takes care of the church.”
Testimony after testimony rolled in about the ways the Lord moved and changed pastors and their wives, and the journeys of healing they were embarking upon because of what they’d learned.
Some shared they had been considering divorce, but weren’t any longer after that pivotal few days at the conference.
Pastors and wives during a breakout session at the marriage conference.
These evidences of God’s grace and work through your support of Paul and Molly come less than two months after Paul was invited to be the guest speaker and host of a pastor's fellowship conference in his city.
Paul was the first ever host under 50 years of age in the Fellowship’s history. Our Indian partner taught this seasoned group of pastors about preaching the Gospel first to yourself in everyday life and shared the ripple effects of this practice on families and churches. He had this truth deeply reinforced in him while in Arizona in April.
The conference audience held hundreds of pastors, including leaders of “big” churches, honored pastors who were well-known before Paul was even in seminary.
Despite the enemy’s attempted distractions, power outages and sweltering heat, many repented of pride with tears and confessed arrogance in their own hearts. They commented that Paul presented truth and love better than anyone they’d ever heard.
Paul shares truth and love while hosting the pastor's fellowship in his city.
Paul and Molly's ministry to pastors in India was built up through the learning opportunities the Lord has used ITMI supporters to provide for this faithful Indian national and his wife.
The power and impact of the ministry to Indian pastors is underlined as Molly says, “The sobering truth is that we tend to face discouragement and attack in our own family and home leading up to these conferences.”
The two Zulu women were walking up a painfully steep hill, one of many in the KwaZulu Natal area of South Africa. Few residents of these hills have transportation other than their feet.
ITMI’s Nobuhle “Fifi” Smith had just asked her companion, “How are things at home? How can I be praying for you?”
Fifi glanced at her friend. She could tell Sandisiwe was fighting tears.
Sandisiwe’s explanation tumbled from her lips, “Fifi, my mom is trying to build a house that would not wash away during the rain. But now she can’t finish it off, because she has diabetes and we have to use that money for hospital bills.”
Being Zulu women who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, makes both Fifi and Sandisiwe part of a small minority in their cluster of Zulu villages in KwaZulu Natal.
ITMI's Fifi Smith is part of a small minority in her cluster of Zulu villages.
Many Zulu are happy to listen to the Gospel. But when everyday challenges arise - like the financial hardship coupled with a medical issue in Sandisiwe’s family - they have a hard time believing it wasn’t their vengeful ancestors’ response to feeling slighted in some way.
“I know God will provide,” Sandisiwe finished. Encouraged by her friend’s faith, Fifi smiled, but her heart was heavy.
When she reached 7 Rivers Farm, where she lives and ministers with a team of missionaries that includes her parents, ITMI partners, Kelly and Cherise Smith, she shared Sandisiwe’s story.
The Smith Family at 7 Rivers Farm. (Left to right) Fifi, Wyatt, Zoey, Kelly, Cherise
ITMI's Fifi Smith at 7 Rivers Farm, helping Zulu women earn an income by making handcrafted jewelry.
The three Smiths began asking their heavenly Father to provide for Sandisiwe’s family, and for her mom to come to know the Lord as her Savior.
The Lord answered the Smith’s prayer through the service and sacrifice of a group of believers from Washington State. This group used their own resources to travel to South Africa to minister alongside the 7 Rivers team to reach the Zulu people with the Good News.
They had raised and set aside funds for a ministry project.
The team ended up helping construct a house for Sandisiwe’s family that would withstand the rain. They toiled to mix cement and lay bricks so that this family could have a home.
When they returned to Washington, the building project, well on its way, was left in the capable hands of a member of the local Zulu church to finish. They had provided more than a home.
They’d been the embodiment of hope and demonstrated the Lord’s power and ability to watch over his own.
“We hope Sandisiwe’s mom will see the hand of God in this. That she will be saved,” Fifi says, quoting, “The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works,” (Psalm 145:9).
Because followers of Jesus partnered with the Smiths, they made a real impact in the lives of a Zulu family in need - both physically and spiritually.
If we’ve helped you connect with an ITMI partner so that you could make a lasting impact, we want you to know, your contribution matters. It matters a great deal.
Whether you were part of or sent a team that traveled and served - like the team from Washington that served in South Africa - told a friend or family member about the ministry of one of our partners, gave sacrificially, or helped connect our partners to training or resources - as Paul’s supporters enable his ministry to pastors, you play a crucial part.
You are to be congratulated on laying up treasures with the Lord and recognized as an example of leaving the kind of legacy every believer wants to leave, but only some do.
Right now, we need help from committed believers like you.
We need people who believe with a passion that everyone should have a chance to hear the Good News. Generous, mature believers who understand and put trust in the Biblical doctrine of generosity.
We need people to stand shoulder to shoulder with those on the field and say, “I want to be part of God’s work!"
The needs and challenges faced by ITMI and our partners are very real. We could really use some more “hands on deck.”
Do you know anyone looking to get involved with taking the Good News to every tongue, tribe and nation by equipping faithful godly workers who are already embedded in cultures and communities?
It would make a real difference if you would let them know that partnering with ITMI and our godly ITMI nationals is a great way to maximize your impact.
If you’ve never partnered with us, or perhaps it’s been awhile, the truth is, we need your help.
We need you to step out in faith, be extraordinary, get connected with an ITMI partner and experience the joy of giving and the satisfaction of making a true and lasting impact.
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.