His wake was a sad affair. Paul’s wife, Molly, described it this way, “all the guests and family came to ridicule the widow and blame the death [of her husband] on her faith as they do here.”
After narrowly escaping arrest in South Sudan, many might decide not to go back. But a return mission trip to Uganda and South Sudan is currently in the works for ITMI’s Steve Evers and Kent Reisenauer. Why risk entering a corrupt third world country where you can get arrested for recording a video interview with a friend at her house? Simply stated, the benefits are far-reaching and numerous.
The village dashed madly for their huts. They had caught one glimpse of the initial brownish-grey clean-out water spilling from the head of the newly drilled well. Moments later, they returned with the various makeshift containers, ready to collect the contaminated water.
When believers connect, it makes a difference. When we look back over 2018, we’re jazzed at what the Lord did through the connection between you and our partners. That last part is important. What the LORD did. It’s His mission, but graciously, He lets us be part of it. This month, we’re hoping you’ll be encouraged by some of the highlights from 2018 that He let us collectively be part of.
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you what ITMI’s Director, Steve Evers, saw when he visited the Indian village inhabited by people stripped of all value and called “untouchable” by the rest of their countrymen, because many parts of it are too graphic. This is a family-friendly publication. But we can tell you…
Several of our partners’ kids are grown and choosing to become involved in ministries of their own. Others are choosing to minister alongside their parents! It’s exciting to see a new generation of national workers equipped and ready for ministry!
Seventeen-year-old Jason van Wyk, the son of ITMI’s Charl van Wyk…
It was a November afternoon in Uganda. From inside the walls of Mukono Prison, ITMI’s Muhindo Kawede was in tears.
For two hours, 300 prisoners listened as Kawede and two other teachers shared the salvation message and encouragement with them.
Why would she return, over and over again, to love and serve those who dish out verbal lashings?
When asked, she said simply…
They are terrified of the idea. A group of grown men, scared of getting in a boat.
But you wouldn’t know it to look at them. They move intently…
Fifteen-year-old Dasha Kazimirova of Toretsk, Ukraine, was like any other teenager in the world in some respects. Her life lay before her full of promise and potential.
But in other ways, she wasn’t at all like your average youth.
What would you do if you found yourself living in a war-zone? If you regularly saw your neighbors’ homes pierced with bullet holes? If you didn’t feel safe in your home but felt even more at-risk outside of it. If the threat of tribal violence threatened your children?
Standing between the broken system that creates a cycle of poverty and hurting families.
Eight-year-old Ayan thrashed and yanked violently against the chains his mother restrained him with. But it was futile. He couldn’t free himself from the chains that kept him inside the run-down shed…
by Adrian Ban
We received the message days prior to our departure for Ukraine. It was a plea for help. The request was accompanied by images of rubble and destruction. It came from a small church of 20 members in Novolugansk. Novolugansk is right on the fighting line between Ukraine and the Russian separatists’ region of Lugansk. Our planning was already done, our routes and places to visit were already scheduled…
After three long days of labor, Laizah was experiencing complications and still had not given birth. The doctor ordered a C-section procedure. “If you don’t have money, they usually use student doctors or nurses to do the operation,” her husband, Cozmore, explains.
It dawned as normal as a morning can be for Americans visiting Juba, South Sudan. But it turned out to be a day we’ll never forget.ITMI’s Kent Reisenauer and I waited in our hotel’s small restaurant. Vicky Waraka, our long-time South Sudanese partner, was late for our breakfast meeting.
Confusion, fear, uncertainty swirled inside little Kamil’s four-year-old heart and mind. Why was this happening? Where was he going? How long would he be gone?
In hindsight, it was best that Kamil didn’t know the answers to these questions.
Yonela pressed her fingertips into the corners of her eyes. She ran them across her dark eyebrows and shook her head in fatigue and frustration. From the front of the South African high school classroom, her algebra teacher was explaining a complicated concept in Afrikaans, Yonela’s third language. At home, Yonela speaks Xhosa and English. Yonela was desperately trying…
It’s 1:30am. Traveling through the Kafue Game Park in central Zambia, I become aware of the most beautiful lion I have ever seen. Saying that I’m isolated in the middle of the night in the middle of the African bush, is an almost humorous understatement.
It was shocking.
When ITMI’s Piotr Zaremba was in the US last February (2017), he was telling people he was “greedy.”
But Piotr is…
Sometimes we are asked to wait on God’s timing longer than we’d like. Israel waited on God to rescue them from slavery in Egypt for 400 years. This time, God did something different.
Many have died just attempting to cross the mainline train tracks and return home from getting water, but no safety precautions – not even a simple caution sign – have been enacted. Because those lives “don’t matter.” Slum residents literally live among the trash, as if they’ve accepted that it is what they are. They were completely forgotten and devalued. Trash. Until…
5 Things Our Partners Get from Seeing You, and What Their Hosts Got, Too!
Hosting an overseas worker while they are here in the U.S. may not seem like a big contribution to God’s Kingdom. BUT IT IS! Here are just five of the many ways our partners have benefitted from their time in the States.
April 2017 – Haunted After Captivity: A Real Story of Honest Struggle
Jahim’s mother, Rebecca, was taken captive. She endured years of slavery and abuse before being reunited with her family in an incredible turn of events. It would be tempting to put a neat bow on this story and say they lived happily ever after as a big happy family.
But that wouldn’t have been quite accurate. Not yet anyway.
Viola couldn’t believe her ears. Could this be for real?
ITMI Founder, William Bathman, or Bill as most know him, has experienced dying for the final time. He graduated to Glory on December 11th, 2016.
Bill’s life was a story of dying. Dying to self, dying to safety, dying to his dream of missionary piloting, dying to pastoring in the States, dying to comfort, to finances and security.
During this season of giving, we asked ITMI partners to give you their heartfelt answers to several questions. May their answers bless and encourage you!
Several years ago, Stone Hill was a forgotten squatters’ camp outside Durbanville, South Africa. But now…
Twelve years ago, the city of Gniezno, Poland wanted ITMI’s Bread of Life and the Gniezno Church to open a soup kitchen and transition home for men. But after Bread of Life paid for renovations on the building they’d been given, the city that asked for help from a Christian organization would no longer allow that same organization and partner church to hold Bible Studies in that location. Fast forward to present day…
“I was very religious,” says Daria Przybyla, “but at the same time as a teenager, I was suicidal and depressed.”
What Dule’s sister was worried about turned out to be the answer to his prayers.
ITMI was founded by Bill and Harriett Bathman 35 years ago as a link between believers in America and the persecuted church behind the Iron Curtain. In doing this, we discovered how effective national believers were at reaching the people around them. That’s where you came in. At one time or another, you responded with a gift that empowered a national to make a huge impact. It’s that impact we’re celebrating. Your impact. You’ve put Bibles in people’s hands, bikes under evangelists and pastors, medical supplies and relief in skilled hands, cared for the orphaned, widowed, elderly, poor and forgotten, equipped pastors, planted churches and shared the Good News around the world! God has allowed us to do so many exciting things over the years. One of the biggest projects we have poured into is…Read More Here.
The images were forever branded into her memory. Elderly women, abandoned by their children in icy, un-heated homes. Soiled sheets and meager blankets, their only defense against a bitter winter. Bedsores and other ailments unattended to. Limp legs and arms, frail with age and hunger.
What does ITMI’s Muhindo Kawede (“Kawede” as he is called by most) do with his “time off” between terms at the International School of Missions? Something you wouldn’t expect.
Also, read Steve’s letter: Dear Team, What I Wouldn’t Have Seen if I Didn’t Go to South Sudan.
Christmas is a time of year when many who would otherwise be uninterested in things of God are more receptive to His message. So whatever their resources, ITMI partners are often found creatively designing ways to reach people around them this time of year. The result?
Read all about it here.
On a recent trip to Southern Africa with Director Steve Evers and ITMI board member Jon Dekkers, I learned some very important things about missionaries, things which will help me appreciate them forevermore.
1. Work Hard
“Being a missionary is hard, physical work,” said Johan Leach. He knows, because…” Read More.
“Why are you drinking?” Her answer, “I drink so that I can forget what I have gone through all the years was a slave.”
This and many other stories of God’s provision were shared by one ITMI partner this Christmas, including direct messages for you! Enjoy.
Last month on the ITMI team’s trip to Zambia, God clearly showed He is still providing and caring for His faithful even today, even in Africa, even against all earthly logic.
ITMI partner, Gerhard le Roux, serving in Onseepkans, South Africa shared this story. Gerhard had the opportunity to bless, invest in and build a relationship with a local Christian leader in a neighboring town, Pofadder. Gerhard shares how Manie’s worldview and understanding of Christian living was expanded through experiencing Christians from other parts of Africa and the world. Enjoy Gerhard’s story!
Gerhard le Roux surveyed the down cast eyes of the trespassers and the police who had been called to the situation. He realized the hopelessness of the situation.
Dr. Nick was a brilliant doctor serving the medical community in a vital position and well known internationally. The communist authorities had grudgingly tolerated his Christian activity, but when he resigned his practice to pastor a Baptist Church, serious problems began.
“Salvation comes primarily through works, not by grace through faith.”
“God’s main mission is for His people to prosper, and you can purchase this benefit through financial contributions to organizations bearing “Christian” in the name, particularly mine.”
These are the heresies that African pastors claiming to represent Jesus often proclaim. To make things worse…
May 2015 – A Faraway Place Brought Near
India really is a far, faraway place. Visualize a place, an excessively hot, sticky, humid place with 1.3 billion people crammed together who are em-powered by generations upon genera-tions’ permissions to judge and even openly oppress those around you who don’t happen to be like you.
ITMI Monthly catches up with our own Daniel Machlowski. Raised in America but 100% Polish, Daniel uses his past to build bridges into people’s future with Christ. Enjoy his unique perspective, from inside our dynamic team!
December 15, 2013 a fierce tribal conflict created upwards of 500,000 to 600,000 homeless refugees that now struggle to survive on a daily basis. Jahim Buli was himself one of the “lost boys of Sudan”…
The Christmas season has been hijacked! This reality was never more apparent to me than last year when I visited Piotr Zaremba in Poland just before the end of the year. …
Steve and ITMI partner, Timothy Keller, were on an overland mission from South Africa to Sudan. They stopped at a roadside stand to make a purchase. Part of the purchase included Steve throwing in two small LED flashlights he had in his pocket. Daylight was waning. They still had to cross the border into communist Zimbabwe. Tim said, “Let’s go!” Steve left mid-deal. It disappointed him, but God had something else in mind for those two flashlights.
It happened to me in 1972. A friend of mine in Ecuador wrote to his Christian friend in Czechoslovakia and casually mentioned, “Brother Bill is bringing Bibles soon.” The border guards were waiting. I was arrested, declared persona non grata, deported and on a ‘black list’ until the Berlin Wall came down 17 years later.
Not long ago, Slawek’s alcohol-induced tantrums estranged him from his family. He was unable to hold a steady job. His entire life’s work, everything he’s been working so hard to build, turned into a million tiny, almost un-reconstructable pieces. He was doing his best to kick the addiction on his own. “The longer I went without drinking, the harsher the blow was for my family when I inevitably got wasted and reset the clock all over again.”
After Jahim delivered food to one of the refugee camps, the political leaders from the other tribe were convinced he was against them. Jahim was being watched and threatened with harm to his family. They read his email. They tracked his activities.
She darted toward the path of an oncoming vehicle. Acting quickly, Bread of Life’s Benoit Ouatara picked her up, preventing the deadly accident. “You can have her.” He looked around. An older woman, who appeared to be the girl’s grandmother was watching the whole scene from nearby. “If you want her you can have her,” she said again. He stared at her, then gently put the child down.
When ITMI’s Muhindo Kawede was a boy, his mother told him to behave or else the ghosts of his ancestors would eat him. And she meant every word. He was constantly afraid of the dark and the ever present ancestral spirits.
“I don’t think he knows who we are,” Pastor Mlungisi Zuma told ITMI’s Kelly Smith. They were in a well-lit, non-private hospital room near Zulu Natal, South Africa. The two men were visiting a man they knew as Mr. Cele.
“He is mumbling and saying a lot of things, but he is making no sense at all,” the pastor observed. Kelly and the new South African pastor of his church continued chatting with the delirious patient.
These 4 heroes paved the way for something amazing to happen in Poland. And the 5th hero of this story may come as a surprise!
Last month ITMI’s Steve Evers sat out under a Ugandan shade tree, seeking some refuge from the intense equatorial sun, while at a small guest house in Kampala, Uganda. Jahim was really glad to see Steve, and he was wanting to discuss what opportunities there were in South Sudan, but Jahim wasn’t Jahim.
“I’m hiding on the floor with my family.” “We didn’t sleep much last night with all the bullets and artillery….”
“Two hours ago [Monday, December 16th] a military truck with soldiers came to my neighbor’s house, pulled him out and shot him dead. He is still laying out there and no one can go out to get the body [because all were afraid to show their faces in public].” These were the chilling comments ITMI’s Director Steve Evers heard over a long distant phone, in broken South Sudanese English on that fateful Monday morning.
“Glenn is not going to live,” the doctor said. But eight-year-old Glenn did live through crippling and consuming burns that devastated his lower body. Then the doctors insisted it would be impossible for Glenn to walk again. But Glenn never gave up. It didn’t matter what the doctor said. He decided no matter how much it hurt, he was going to walk again. Even more, he was going to run.
Spring had finally arrived to the southern hemisphere and more specifically to the Northern Cape of South Africa. There were signs of growth and new life everywhere. God’s yearly quilt of unlimited color blankets the otherwise barren sheep-land which borders the 185+ kilometer dirt road “shortcut” that leads to the Orange River and the outpost called, Onseepkans, South Africa. This is where ITMI’s Gerhard and Elmane le Roux and family are fighting the monsters that come from an almost forgotten and godless society.
Where once there were many deaths by crocodile, now there is safety. Where once there was risk of disease from contaminated water, now there is a greater chance of living longer. Where there once was hardship, now there is relief. Where there once was witchcraft and animism, now there is freedom and community. Where there once was darkness, now there is hope. What happened?
He was one of several bystanders who hovered near the courtyard gate of an old church building. Across the street behind him, “Welcome to Gangland” sarcastically welcomed all to the area where no one really wants to go. He wanted to go in, but remained outside, uncertain whether he should enter – or could enter.
ITMI’s John Jere is fearless. He willingly goes where the Spirit of God leads him. It doesn’t matter that he is a poor swimmer as he steps down into a small, unstable and tipsy hewn out log canoe that is the only way to cross the wide, crocodile and hippo filled Zambezi River in Western Zambia. John does this so that…
Among all the other daily pressures and challenges of spreading God’s good news in a Hindu and Muslim dominated India, Paul and Molly and family have lived under the added pressure of not knowing if they could keep their family together.
June 2013 – The Salt Shaker
Jahim’s passenger slid off the back of his small motor scooter, or bota bota as it came to a stop, eager to distance himself from the morning heat the motor was adding to the already sweltering temperature. Jahim Buli wiped his hands, sweaty from navigating the insanity of African roads on his pants and took the meager payment for the transportation he’d just provided.
When Sarah Phiri’s grandmother brought her to ITMI’s Samaritan Children’s Home, she was in bad shape. Born with HIV/AIDS and a lame right foot, she was very weak. A Tuberculosis-like cough shook her frail frame, which was covered in sores.
The sound of glass fragments raining down on the concrete floor caused the group of young boys to laugh loudly. Makalo, the rock throwing culprit, threw his hands in the air triumphantly as the other boys dropped their rocks. Makalo had just broken what was probably the last unshattered window of abandoned buildings in Onseepkans, South Africa.
A low groan came from the cot in the corner of the room. Her three-year-old son tossed restlessly, entangling himself in the thin covering she’d placed over him. There was no relief from the Zambian heat, and the fever just kept rising. Lily felt so powerless, watching him suffer. She knew the people of her church were praying for her son, but thought, “I need to do something more.” Gathering him into her arms, she set out…
It had taken him years of studying and hard work, an international move from America to Poznan, Poland and many sacrifices, but he was finally about to taste the reward. Bruno was in his last weeks of medical school at Poznan University in Poland. Nonetheless, when the phone rang, he answered.
Hell on earth. Literally. The worst living conditions you could imagine. No, scratch that. Worse living conditions than an American could probably imagine. It’s not the mission field anyone really wants God to call us to. But God called a young, thirty-year old Sudanese believer to live according to the Biblical story of redemption in the midst of a Sudanese prison for 10 weeks.
We asked our partners to share with ITMI Monthly readers the top five things God has done in them or their ministry this year. We pray you are blessed in knowing that these are possible through the generosity of supporters like you.
Children’s screams pierced the forsaken calmness of the cold, biting air that hung over the desolate and remote area outside Onseepkans, South Africa. ITMI’s Gerhard le Roux quickly rolled out from under his family’s 1994 Land Rover. He and his ministry partner, Eric, were muddling through repairing it – again. The two men sprinted to the house where the screams were coming from. As they reached the door, they saw…
“Good news!” was all the young boy could manage between breaths. The women, most balancing heavy jugs of water on their heads while carrying one in each hand, kept walking toward their village just a few steps ahead. They moved only their eyes toward the boy, who again heralded breathlessly, “Good news!”
The meager change landed next to her with a short clang. Twenty-two-year-old Magashwari had just finished washing the clothes of an upper caste family in Southern India in exchange for a few coins they tossed her way. Because of her blindness, she’d been told and treated like she didn’t matter by her family and society for so long that she believed it. And then one day there was a knock at her door.
Ana followed her fiance, Mihai, up to the stoop of ITMI’s Adrain – Adi as they knew him – and Ema Ban’s home in Oradea, Romania. As the couple welcomed them in with smiles, Ana immediately felt safe and warm. She fidgeted nervously with her fingers, hair and anything else she could find. She and Mihai were there for a diagnosis of their relationship. Ana knew the Bans wrote and published a book on marriage – she assumed they were a picture of perfection.
ITMI’s Anna Gorski stood in front of a group of strangers in Phoenix, Arizona. She could feel their eyes glued on her – and it was almost as if she could physically feel them stuck to her skin. She wiped her clammy palms on her jeans then reached up to play with her dark brown hair, only to realize she had pulled it back to keep it from the roving reach of her nervous hands. She was scared to death.
It was an intense 103 degrees Farenheit. There were about 2000 people gathered for an Easter service. Most were sitting in plastic chairs crowded underneath sheets draped on hefty tent poles that were erected each Sunday for the young church’s gathering. Those that couldn’t find seats under the awning – or should we say oven – were sprinkled in any inkling of shade that could be found outside the structure.
It was hard to believe that it all came down to this. Moses could hear his pulse pounding in his ears. The chaotic bustle of the city was a muted rustle, as if he was far, far away. Though standing still next to a busy road in an African city, he was breathing hard, gasping for breath like a drowning victim. He took a deep breath. Before anyone could stop him, Moses darted in front of the next speeding vehicle, intending to end it all.
“Then glaring at her 10-year-old son, she threatened, ‘Don’t come back here!’ then turned on her heal and left.”
Barren. Wasteland. Godforsaken. Or is it?
We don’t think so. Neither did Gerhard Le Roux. In fact, he bet the farm on it. Literally.
“I come from a broken family. My parents- father addicted to alcohol and handicapped mother struggling with depression- couldn’t give me the love, care and safety I needed as a child. I wasn’t aware of the destruction that was going on in me- I was emotionally damaged, spiritually dead and physically suffering from epilepsy.
January 2012 – Removing the Millstone
The realization hit Pastor Raj [name changed for security] like a millstone and a heaviness sank deep into his stomach. He felt sick. The American’s words, “You are not God,” rang in his ears. He had been playing god.