This article was originally published in the May 2022 edition of ITMI Monthly.
An act of care and generosity was so shocking for them that one pastor had to open the food package and eat from it first to show them it was safe!
Encouraging Pastors and Reaching the Hurting
ITMI’s Paul [last name undisclosed for security] recently held several in-person conferences with his Pastor’s Fellowship groups.
This ministry was once mainly for local pastors, although some traveled for up to a day from places outside the city. During the Covid pandemic, it expanded to reach many pastors all over India when they were forced to have their meetings online by strict lock-downs.
The pastoral fellowship meetings, where Paul encourages and equips India’s Christian leaders, are seen by these pastors as vital to their own well-being and ministry. Paul traveled to two different areas of India for the in-person conferences. One of those areas was a place called Bihar.
ITMI’s Steve Evers was one of the conferences speakers, addressing the group remotely via Zoom. Another part of the conference was a Project Joseph outreach. ITMI’s Project Joseph, started during the intense days of lockdown, aims to reach the hurting with the Gospel by meeting people’s immediate need for food.
The crowds in Bihar were in disbelief that strangers would come to bring them food. An act of care and generosity was so shocking for them that one pastor had to open the food package and eat from it first to show them it was safe!
This is the harsh reality that many live with, and the hospitality of Jesus glows in such a context. Project Joseph outreaches are always accompanied by the sharing of the Gospel.
Paul’s team shared the following examples of some of the people who received Project Joseph food parcels.
His clothes and hat were limp and dirty. His beard was black as coal, interrupted by large patches of white. Somehow, he had managed, at least for that day, to keep his beard trimmed evenly around his chin.
Nazeer spends his days among overflowing dumpsters. He picks through the discarded and rotting refuse to find items of paper or plastic, which he can trade for coins.
A co-worker of our partners in India, Paul and Molly, was distributing Project Joseph food parcels and sharing the Gospel as the Lord led him when he came upon Nazeer.
As he approached Nazeer to offer him the parcel of food, he saw Nazeer’s glazed eyes were an unhealthy yellow and reflected the utter misery and hopelessness the young man lived with. The small gift of desperately needed food opened up the opportunity for this believer, discipled by Paul, to have a conversation with Nazeer.
Nazeer explained his personal situation. “I don’t have hope to live in this world. My family does not accept me because of my sin,” Nazeer told Paul’s teammate, opening the door for sharing the Good News.
Nazeer searches a dumpster.
Living in one of these colonies is difficult enough. Everywhere filth and squalor overpower any effort to keep one’s body and small living space comfortable or clean.
Shacks lean against one another in rows, offering protection only from a fraction of elements, but no privacy or safety.
Noticing Sekar’s blindness, Paul’s teammate offered him two food parcels.
The blind man replied, “One is enough for me. Please give the other parcel to others.” Paul’s teammate was touched by his concern for others, and used this open door to share the Gospel with Sekar.
A flattened cardboard box served as a cushion and barrier between her and the filthy street. Her white hair was cropped very short. Her eyes were glazed and yellow. Revethi is blind in one of her eyes.
Paul’s disciples from his church bring her meals often. On this particular day, their small gift of a little food made tears well up in her eyes.
“Thank you that I could eat this day because of your help and care,” she managed to say.
She had never heard of Christ or the enormous sacrifice He made that people might have the opportunity to be reconciled to His Father until Paul’s team’s outreach reached her and she learned about Jesus.
These open doors to plant Gospel seeds are provided by your gifts supporting our Project Joseph initiative. Your continued support allows for the watering and cultivating of these seeds, growing them into a fruitful harvest as the Lord sees fit.
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.
Get Weekly Updates from the Field!
Subscribe to our email updates