This article was originally published in the August 2020 edition of ITMI Monthly.
A dull, numb feeling wrapped around Sarah (name changed for privacy) like a dark cocoon. She was attending a hygiene and virus suppression seminar in her community, put on by ITMI’s Lazarus Yezinai and his team.
Sarah’s brain knew that with only 15 hospitals for South Sudan’s population of 10,561,244 (2020 estimate) and meager funds, she has no hope of being able to obtain medical treatment if needed. Her family’s best hope during the COVID-19 pandemic is to avoid infection.
But they didn’t have access to running water in their mud-walled home. Instead, they used a bowl of water that got dirtier with each use. She hadn’t even known this would spread germs among her family, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it anyway. She knew she should feel something - fear, maybe? But she was just too exhausted and numb.
Her husband had gone to a distant part of the country, saying it was to find work making charcoal. The heartbreaking truth, though, had revealed that he’d abandoned her and their children - the youngest less than a month old - for another woman.
It had been the most recent in the long string of trauma, bad news and difficulty she called her life. Sarah had no help, no plan and no money, and she was beyond feeling.
But Sarah heard something else at the seminar. She learned that Jesus loved her enough to send this team to help in this time of trouble, and the numbness began to thaw.
When she was presented with a long bar of soap and one of the yellow water jugs fitted with a white, plastic tap so that she and her household could cleanse their hands effectively, she was almost out of her mind for a few moments with relief and gratitude.
The yellow jugs are called jerry cans and cost less than $15 USD - depending on the currently highly volatile and inflated cost of commodities - but to put this gift in context, it would be like a local church showing up at your doorstep with the free gift of a new washing machine and dryer!
They were distributed to 50 households that Lazarus identified as the most vulnerable during an earlier Project Joseph food parcel delivery.
Lazarus with the jerry cans that would provide running water for 50 households.
It would have been only 38 families, not 50, if not for Lazarus’ determination, compassion and generosity.
Two ITMI donors provided $500 to purchase 50 jerry cans for South Sudanese families. However, by the time Lazarus had the money in hand, the total cost had risen substantially.
After paying the bank fee, Lazarus could only purchase approximately 38.5 of the 50 jerry cans needed. Instead of making excuses - though valid - Lazarus’ financial report to us after the distribution quietly reflected something noteworthy.
Lazarus had used his personal income to cover the disparity and still provide 50 families with potentially life-saving running water and a Gospel message from Psalm 103 of how God forgives, heals and redeems.
The amount needed to bridge the difference was a little less than a quarter of the monthly expenses for Lazarus’ large, 23 member household.
We sent Lazarus $799 of support that month, and he used $170 of that to make sure he was honoring his donors’ intentions and personally participate in the project as a donor himself by adding a bar of soap for each recipient.
We thought you’d want to know that this is the kind of partner Lazarus is. He has demonstrated the highest caliber of character and trustworthiness and generosity, and, like you, is compelled to sacrifice by compassion and a deep desire to see people walk with Jesus.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ITMI PARTNER
These men and women of the highest quality of character and leadership aren’t doing it for virtue’s sake. They are doing it because they are passionate. Passionate about Jesus, passionate about his mission, and deeply dedicated to seeing people in their spheres come to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Other Stories in this Series
3 Stories that Reveal Much about Our Partners
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.