This article was originally published in the February 2024 edition of ITMI Monthly.
How do vehicle racers, at breakneck speeds, make adjustments to avoid obstacles or other racers?
They are moving so fast that they cannot really stop to think, instead, they can only trust their reactions.
On a curvy road, when a huge pothole comes into view, racers know to direct their eyes to the part of the road that they want to use and avoid focusing on the thing that you want to avoid. Experts say that we are drawn to what we fixate on. Our minds somehow, little by little, pull us toward what we allow our minds to fixate on.
I learned this the hard way as a younger man on Kim Allen’s motorcycle in our church parking lot. I intently fixated on the concrete parking bumper that I desperately wanted to avoid. Let’s just say when Kim got his motorcycle back, it was in worse condition than when he let me take it for a spin!
Today, I’m consumed with the phrase spoken by Jesus to the tempest on the Sea of Galilee: “Peace be still.” (Mark 4) It is what I have chosen to fixate on. It would be easy to fixate on all the turmoil around the globe. Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Russia, elections, inflation, health, finances, or any other number of tempests that arise daily or hourly.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 reminds us, “The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord…is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream. It doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”
John agrees, “ I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
ITMI’s Adi Ban just returned from another trip to Ukraine to encourage the church’s leadership to minister to the saints and to mentor the pastors to focus not on the war and the losses and the destruction but on the opportunity that God has given them to reach and shepherd more people than they did in their little corner of Ukraine before the war.
ITMI’s part - your part - in this process of serving and discipling the mass of hurting and broken people was to intentionally focus on where we wanted to go; to build up the worn-out pastors who have had to deal with more death and heartache than a human was ever intended to handle.
With Adi and his wife, Ema, leading the way, we focused on loving and recharging the church leaders in Ukraine through two events last year - one in April and one in August. We were able to give these leaders a break from being required to focus 24/7 on the logistics of feeding, housing, and caring for the literal millions of fleeing and broken Ukrainians, and redirect their focus to how loving, gracious, and empowering our Lord really is.
Adi relayed that one older Ukrainian pastor shared with him, “... because of your [multiple visits last year where you cared for us and taught us] I have seen the reality that I need to be open to learning new [life insights, ministry insights, biblical truths] that I didn’t know before.”
This statement comes from a man who is at peace. One who can rest in the fact that God is in control and that God always desires for us to focus on HIM and let the tempest that we happen to be placed in fade into the background.
We thank you all for standing with us as we seek to strengthen and empower the godly nationals with whom our Lord connects us. May we all experience this coming season, “Peace be still,” in our lives and in our souls as we focus on Who brings this peace and not distracted by that which draws us away from HIS peace.
In His Service,
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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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