This article was originally published in the October 2021 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Seven, yes seven, COVID tests were needed for this just completed trip to South Africa and Zambia to minister to and with our ITMI partners. Five of those tests came back negative. Two came back…positive.
I won’t tell you that reading “positive” in bold, black and white on a COVID report while you are an ocean and a hemisphere away from home is not disconcerting.
The enemy takes full advantage of reminding you of all the pain and heartache, the isolation and sometimes worse treatment, that has been associated with testing positive for this virus. A sense of anxiety slowly infiltrates your psyche, even though you “know” that your Father is in complete control and He always has a better plan than you do.
I guess this exercise in trusting His provision and protection exposes that we too, like Frank and his co-worker at Nando’s, think we know our hearts and motives but we continually need the Spirit of God to clearly show us what is really in our hearts.
In staff devotions just this week we read Proverbs 20:5, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Thoughts From My Trip to Africa
► What God calls us to do, He provides a way for it to be done - The first two South African partners I visited, I hugged, rode in a closed up vehicle with, ate next to and breathed the same air were either confirmed with COVID or had multiple symptoms, and yet God chose to keep me healthy and free from health distractions and interruptions of what His plan was for my mission trip.
► Trust in God and true hospitality are not always humanly convenient - When Gerhard le Roux, Kelly and Cherise Smith, and Hannes and Christel van Jaarsveldt found out that I tested positive or that I might be a health challenge to them or their families, they willfully, intentionally started making plans on how to take care of me for the anticipated extended recovery. Gerhard and Hannes even went as far as saying that they wanted me at their homes so that they could take care of me - clear displays of trust in God’s protection, provision and a wonderful display of the gift of true hospitality!
► God really does love and draw all men unto him - Only if you had been with me in Zambia - at the end of my month long trip to two places that the U.S. CDC, the travel agent, and a many others pleaded with fear-laced vocabulary and emotion almost begging me not to go to - could you see all the small direction-correcting nudges that God used to make sure that one, insignificant seeming Zambian manager of Nando’s Chicken in Lusaka named Frank, would have a clear opportunity to choose Jesus’ redemptive plan for his life. I love how God isn’t worried about how much the false positive messed with me on so many levels and cost ITMI a fair amount in extra charges for missed air flights, extended guest house days and other extras. His plan is most important.
A few days after I returned home, Wayne Smith Jr. reminded us when he shared this great reminder on Facebook,
“ ‘From the place of His dwelling He looks upon ALL the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts INDIVIDUALLY; He considers all their works.’ Psalms 33:14-15.” Wayne continued, “…this verse makes me think of how God takes such care in shaping and fashioning each and every one of us. The baby in a mother’s womb is being knit together, and their heart more than anything is made unique to them…more importantly it reminds me that each individual on this earth has value placed upon them by their Creator. So whatever our different viewpoints are let’s not forget God’s view point, and that is that you ARE ‘fearfully and wonderfully made!’ Psalms 139:14.”
May we all be willing to be detained, redirected, held up, inconvenienced and even financially impacted, when God is doing what only He can do in our lives and the lives of others for His purposes.
What is He asking from you today?
In His Service,
About the Author
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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