What You Should Know
If there is one thing I have learned over the course of ministry these last few years is that the evangelical world is quite small. When Christ is exalted as Lord and Savior a common bond exists that transcends time and distance, crossing barriers that might otherwise exist. Even more, a right theology in major areas creates a like-mindedness that cannot exist apart from the Lord’s doing. As a result, you’ll find yourself crossing paths with a person and/or ministry at churches, conferences, or other events; and if you don’t then it’s likely someone at those events is at least connected to that person or ministry in some way.
In 2014 I crossed paths with Dr. Stephen Van Horn and his ministry, International Training & Equipping Ministries (ITEM) and came away greatly encouraged to hear about ITEM. ITEM’s basic functions are fairly simple. It exists to train and equip on an international basis, just as the name says. However, the organization is much more than that when you consider the details. Specifically, ITEM focuses on a number of countries in Africa with the goal of training and equipping those who would not otherwise be for the purpose of establishing vibrant and healthy churches. Doctrinally solid, the organization’s ability to work and partner with those in the African countries is doing much to counteract the false teaching and I would urge you to visit their website to learn more than I could tell you here (visit http://www.iteministries.org/).
Why They Are Unique
On the surface, one could say that ITEM seems similar to any other organization. However, utilizing what they call an E4 strategy (based on Ephesians 4), Dr. Van Horn and his board of directors have established an organization that is distinct, reliable, and trustworthy because of four areas:
- Generates Gospel Defenses: Theology and proper interpretation of Scripture are important, thus the organization trains the men how to do just that. In a land where the prosperity gospel reigns, they are equipping people to guard the gospel.
- Generates Gospel Advancement: The model is oriented towards continue advancement by those working in the country. In reality, they are working themselves out of a job by training and equipping leaders to take on this role themselves.
- Generates Gospel Leaders: As repeatedly noted, ITEM us equipping leaders who guard and protect the entirety of the gospel (thus all of Scripture and the truth contained within).
- Generates National Gospel Leaders: The best people to minister to a particular culture are those within that culture. Therefore, it is important to note that ITEM is equipping nationals to be the leaders of their own people.
There are a number of defining factors that make ITEM a worthwhile organization to put attention on, but these four points are particularly noteworthy.
Ways They Can Be Supported
Like any ministry for the glory of our Lord, it requires partnerships with people who are gifted in a variety of ways, that is after all, how we function as a body. So there are several ways in which your can aid them:
- Pray: The single most important thing we can do yet is often the most neglected, is pray for the ministry.
- Financially Support the Ministry: Finances are a constant struggle and usually the first thing mentioned. For those are able this kind of partnership can help stabilize the ministry.
- Financially Support a Teacher: ITEM relies upon pastors, elders, teachers, and others to help provide their teaching. Most of this cost is by the individual raising his own support which can be expensive (especially considering airfare these days). Therefore, you can help offset the costs of those teachers by helping them.
- Provide a Teacher: They are constantly looking for those who are like-minded, theologically solid, and gifted in teaching to help them. Perhaps you know someone and can put them in touch with ITEM, or maybe you could go yourself.
- Support Their Events: Throughout the year ITEM has some events (such as a golf tournament in July and a banquet in the fall) that you can attend and show your support as well as learn more about the ministry.
- Receive Their Updates: Sign-up to receive their updates or contact them to find out more information. You can contact them to do so by going to their website or e-mailing them (see below).
- Share ITEM With Others: Spread the word about all the good things they are doing. When we see other believers serving the Lord, we should encourage them and encourage others through them.
The spiritual needs of this world are massive. Choosing where to invest our resources can be difficult with many of the varying causes out there, but I would ask you to pause and consider ITEM. However, don’t just take my word for it, but take a look at their website and contact them directly to get more information.
To get more information, you can visit International Training & Equipping Ministries online at http://www.iteministries.org/ and contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: After that initial meeting Dr. Stephen Van Horn we have maintained regular contact. However, he did not ask me to write this ministry highlight and is not aware that I am writing it. I receive no compensation or anything but am simply doing this to share more about the ministry.