This article was originally published in the September 2023 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Abid and Saleem waited outside the worn-down double gate...
Abid and Saleem waited outside the worn-down double gate made of two bark-thin wood panels. A small chain that looked flimsy enough for a child to snap with a slight push cinched the panels together.
Both men squinted in the sun's midday rays as they waited for someone to welcome them into the home of Shahid Bashir.
Eventually, Shahid and his father, Bashir, welcomed them into the courtyard of the rented residence. The four men took seats on a low charpoy, a Pakistani all-purpose homemade furniture piece that resembles a hand-woven bedframe.
Shahid and Bashir sat on another charpoy directly in front of them. A nearby stand fan provided a slight breeze, a welcome relief from the around 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures.
A white goat with chocolate brown spots perched on a cement block in the corner of the courtyard. The goat stared into the corner somewhat comically while the men discussed God’s provision and love for His people.
Shahid and his family are the only Christian family in their impoverished village of about 100 families. Bashir’s full name is Bashir Masih, which means “Messiah” or “Christ” and is commonly adopted as a surname in Pakistan and sometimes India when someone decides to follow Jesus.
“Both [Shahid and Bashir] are believers and light for the entire village,” Abid explains.
When Shahid was 8 years old, the roof of their house collapsed on him, breaking his leg and disabling him. When he was 12, his mother died of tuberculosis and cancer; they couldn’t afford treatment.
Bashir worked on Muslim farms until he was too old to do so. Now, one of their Muslim neighbors allows Bashir to use his gardening skills to grow vegetables. In return for his labor, Bashir’s family recieves a very small percentage of the crop.
“They spend a miserable life,” Abid describes. In Pakistan, believers often live in groups for protection from the cultural practice of blaming Christians for any and everything. Living in close proximity allows them to vouch for one another. Shahid and Bashir are at risk as the only Christians in their village.
Abid selected Shahid and Bashir to be recipients of a pair of goats as part of ITMI’s Goat Project.
The ITMI staff worked closely with Abid to design and implement this project to maximize the opportunity to make disciples.
Earlier this year, Abid selected a team of believers to help him implement the project. Over several months, he equipped them with formal disicpleship training.
Abid used the Seven Areas of Life Training (SALT) material to teach his team the Biblical principles that guide how a believer uses resources. Armed with this understanding of God’s Word, Abid’s team members were prepared to meet with goat recipients regularly and guide them through implementing the principles.
Abid selected the recipients of the goats based on project criteria, provided them with the same SALT training, and introduced them to the Biblical principles of the project.
They discussed how they could bring glory to God by reflecting who He is. As goat caretakers, they would do this by mirroring the Lord’s “bringing forth” of all things as their care for the goats “brings forth” new resources.
They learned what it looks like to be faithful to the Lord with their physical strength, sound mind, the ability to reason, items in their possession, and the natural resources around them. The SALT material teaches that believers can honor the Lord by earning honestly, giving generously, spending wisely, and investing carefully.
Earning honestly, giving generously, and spending wisely were all built into the project. Goat recipients learned they were honoring the Lord by caring for the goats, which produces income honestly.
Before receiving the goats, they agreed that they would generously give the firstborn brought forth by the goat pair to another needy family and teach them the Biblical principles they’d implemented. The Biblical doctrine of using their income to provide for the needs of their family was the first way they would practice spending wisely.
A Muddy Day at the Market
Once Abid was satisfied that the recipients understood the Biblical principles, he was ready to purchase the goats!
Abid and his team spent an entire day at the market. Through a drizzle of rain, they spoke with many vendors searching for the best price for the type of goat they needed. Abid explained his project to many of them, asking for the best prices, though most weren’t interested in offering a discount.
Finally, the wet and muddy team loaded the goats into a truck bed and brought them home. Unloading the goats caught the attention of Abid’s neighbors, and some of the men from the community spent the evening in Abid’s courtyard.
"We feel his love through His people."
The night before Shahid and Bashir were presented with their goats, the anticipation made it difficult to sleep.
“Last night we were unable to sleep,” Shahid said, “Imagine how much we were excited!”
The following day, the goat recipients showed up to sign their contract outlining all the principles for participating in the program, be presented with their pair of goats, and take them home!
When Abid asked them how it felt to be part of this program, Shahid said, “We are thankful for those brothers and sisters in Christ who have a heart for poor believers. Our Jesus can do miracles. We feel His love through His people.
Abid and Saleem were in Shahid’s courtyard for the first “check-in” or follow-up visit with Shahid and Bashir two weeks after receiving the pair of goats. This would be a regularly occurring event going forward.
Abid or one of the Project Agents he’d trained would visit with the recipients every few weeks to discuss their goats’ health and provide Biblical guidance as the families encountered new ways to implement what they’d learned.
When Abid asked Shahid how things were going, Shahid said he was very excited about the goats.
He’d had the opportunity to talk about the Lord with his Muslim neighbors!
The two newest editions to his household had caught the attention of his neighbors, who asked Shahid if Abid would include them in the goat project. That gave Shahid the opportunity to share one of the Biblical principles taught and demonstrated by this project - that all provision comes from the Lord - in his reply.
ITMI family, the Lord used your support of several ITMI projects to get this discipleship process underway. Supporters of the ITMI General Fund, your gifts provide for the labor hours put in by the ITMI staff on this project.
Donors who provided a monthly income for Abid, so that his family is provided for while he ministers full-time made him available to implement this project. Those of you who funded the translation of the SALT material into Urdu made it available to be used to set this project up for effective discipleship.
ITMI supporters who gave toward the Goats for a Family in Pakistan item from our 2022 Christmas Catalog funded the purchase of the goat pairs.
The Lord beautifully united His people in this partnership to make disciples for His glory, and it’s our great honor to serve beside such dedicated servants of the Lord in this way.
And friends, we’re having a hard time finding the words to share how much it has meant - and will continue to mean - to these families in Pakistan.
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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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