This article was originally published in the September 2021 edition of ITMI Monthly.
"God knows and sees my situation from heaven. I never thought that one day I am going to have a blanket."
Blankets are commonplace for many of us.
We have extras hiding in our closets and attics. They aren’t difficult to come by here in America. But for the impoverished in South Sudan, where inflation drives the price of this “luxury” out of reach for most of the population, a blanket is something they never imagined they could own.
Last year, ITMI supporters provided blankets for needy families through our Christmas Giving Catalog.
Mama City Ali and her husband were one of the needy families that received a blanket provided by ITMI supporters through our partner in South Sudan, Lazarus Yezinai. Lazarus also provided Mama City Ali and her husband with 2 buckets of maize.
“God knows and sees my situation from heaven,” said Ali, “I never thought that one day I am going to have a blanket. So today my husband will be covered with a blanket and will have food today. Let the name of God be glorified!”
She went on to ask for prayer for her sick husband, who lay in their shack in Juba, South Sudan. “Thanks to God and thanks to those of ITMI for what they did to me. Let God bless them all,” she said.
Mama City Ali, South Sudan, was blessed with a blanket and some maize.
Silvia Buwa was another woman who was blessed with a blanket and maize. “It is the first time in history for me to have a blanket,” she said gratefully, “I am suffering from coldness but God never forgets me. I give thanks to God and also to those that remember me from afar. I have nothing to give but let God remember you (ITMI supporters) and your children.”
Whether he is visiting with gifts of physical provision or just to encourage the suffering, Lazarus’s visits are Christ-focused. He listens to their struggles, speaks God’s Word into their lives and prays with them.
Some told Lazarus it was the first time they’d seen the church reach out with God’s love and care for the elderly. Some gave their lives to Jesus and others returned to the Lord because of the church’s faithful witness carried out through Lazarus and his team.
Lazarus encouraged one of the families of a widow who received a blanket with God's Word.
Lazarus prays with one of the families of a widow who received a blanket with God's Word.
Using Their Home to Reach People with God’s Love
Lazarus and Mary Yezinai, South Sudan
Lazarus has a full ministry schedule. He is a leader in his church. He visits orphans and widows, organizing relief deliveries when funds are available.
He makes evangelistic home visits and follows up with those families to provide discipleship.
He runs a grassroots outreach where teachers volunteer to tutor classes of students of all ages, even adults, who were not able to finish school or take exams, usually due to displacement or some kind of crisis.
Lazarus Yezinai and ITMI's Kent Reisenauer visiting a widow in South Sudan.
Lazarus (in the blue shirt) sits with, listening to and sharing God's Word with a local gang.
Adults who want to finish their education so they can provide for their families have the chance at Lazarus' school.
Lazarus equipping and discipling pastors and leaders in South Sudan.
He regularly reaches out to gangs, youth who were displaced by violence and have nowhere to go.
He is working to start a sports outreach for these youth in great need of the Word of God and discipleship relationships. Lazarus also travels to equip church leaders to lead biblically and teach God’s Word faithfully.
After full days of hard work in the unrelenting South Sudan heat, it would be understandable if he sought the quiet of his home.
But Lazarus is so impassioned to reach people with God’s Word that he and his wife, Mary, have opened their home to many in need.
All together, Lazarus and Mary have 17 people in their household. These are people Lazarus shares his meager income and personal resources with.
As part of his household, they participate in daily family devotions and outreaches in the neighborhood. Lazarus and Mary live on a small plot of land in Juba. The 17 members of his household share two small, mud structures.
Lazarus and his family.
In a recent conversation with Kent, Lazarus revealed that the one-room structure where the children sleep is falling down. The mud walls are literally melting away every time it rains. During the rainy season (April to November), the chance of rain is greater than 36% on any given day.
The structure is at a point that it cannot be repaired. It must be demolished and rebuilt. To reduce the amount of time that they are without a bed during construction, Lazarus is waiting until he has all of the materials purchased before beginning demolition.
The replacement building will be made of brick and slightly larger to accommodate the family which is now much larger than it was when the structure was built.
The great news? Helping Lazarus reach these needy children and youth right in his own home can be done for less than five thousand dollars.
In fact, Lazarus just needs $3,300 to purchase the remaining materials.
ITMI family, we can do this. We can help this faithful family with livable conditions to share with those in need.
Together, we can enable Lazarus and Mary to continue using their personal resources to help the vulnerable and in need, while continuing to reach out to gangs, widows, the elderly and the hurting.
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.
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