How Strong Can We Be Together?

Think Family

By Steve Saint

strength-together-missions-dilemma

We take a huge step forward when we start “teaching people to fish” instead of just “handing out fish” which creates debilitating dependency. But there is a trap we tend to fall into when we suppress our natural tendency to dominate those we take the Gospel to.

That trap is to think that INDEPENDENCY is the solution to DEPENDENCY. That makes me think of the climate of the Sub-Sahara Desert where I once lived. It is unbearably hot during the day. The air temperature can easily get up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It makes you dream of being cold – until night comes and the desert sheds its heat like a duck sheds water. Desert nights can be bitterly cold regardless of how hot it was during the day. The answer to “Too Hot” is not “Too Cold” and the answer to “Dependency” is not “Independence.”

Balance is the solution we need. “Balance” is central to living the Christian life. Unfortunately it is easier to talk about than to achieve. The solution to “Dependency” is “Interdependency.” I wish one extreme could solve another extreme because extremes are so much easier to achieve than “Balance.” Interdependency in missions is “Balance.” But it is very hard to achieve. For one thing, “Balance” means we have to learn to respect people who walk instead of drive, who communicate by sitting down and talking instead of texting or calling, who have to hunt food or harvest it instead of shopping for it at the local grocery store.

Transformational Development Model with Florence Muindi

At a recent Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville,  Kentucky, I-TEC had the privilege of filming an interview with Dr. Florence Muindi.  She is the Founding President / CEO of Life in Abundance and is considered a leader in the ministry of community development.

Florence Blog

A native to Kenya, Florence is a medical doctor by training and has pioneered Life in Abundance’s transformational development model.  In the following four videos, Florence shares the story of how God began her ministry by empowering a local church to meet needs in their community.  Please watch and share.

The Gospel as Culture

Christ commissioned us to deliver His supernatural message to everyone, everywhere. He did not ask us to clone ourselves or our culture to the ends of the earth.

By Steve Saint

gospel-as-culture-missions-dilemma

Don’t ask a fish to describe water. They are so immersed in it that they don’t even think about it. And we don’t think about our culture. It is so much a part of our world that it becomes invisible to us.

But, when we observe another culture it jumps out and grabs our attention. Why? Because it usually doesn’t make sense to us. It is like Mincaye trying to understand golf.

He can’t fathom why anyone would cut down all the trees in a large area and then spend untold days cutting the grass short unless it had something to do with getting food. He assumed that the grass was being cut with a machete by people squatting on their haunches all day in the hot sun, because he didn’t know about air-conditioned tractors pulling huge mowers.

I tried to explain that people golfing were just “playing.” But the Waodani don’t divide life’s activities into work and play like we do. For the Waodani it is just cae, “doing.” So I explained to Mincaye that the golfers we were watching were looking for little white round things. Mincaye commented, “They must be really good to eat!” I told him the little white things were too hard to eat. He said, “Tell them to cook them longer.”

You see, in Mincaye’s culture they have never known the luxury of having excess energy to spend on activities that are not intended to provide shelter, food, or protection for one’s self and family. They don’t have a concept of “play” or of “sport.”

When Mincaye was visiting us in the U.S. we went to an NBA basketball game. Mincaye laughed uproariously at the antics of these giant human beings that ran from one end of the flat place to the other end; violently throwing a ball through a net-bag with a hole in the bottom that the ball kept falling through.

I thought about trying to explain that for doing this activity (which Mincaye finally decided to call Ononki cae, “for no reason doing”) these big men with the colorful clothes were going to be given paper that they would trade for huts and food and cars and airplanes. I did try to explain that there were actually two teams of men and they were competing to see who could put the ball into the bottomless net-bag more than the other ones.

I could not make it understandable to Mincaye. It was just too complicated to explain certain activities that make sense to us, but not to a person from a very, very different culture.

WWJD at a Gay Pride Parade

By Steve Saint

On Sunday, June 26th 2016, Ginny and I were in New York City to help promote a new ministry for tribal people groups. It just happened that there was a large gay pride parade scheduled that same day in ‘The Big Apple’.  

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It also just happened that the restaurant loaned to us to introduce this new ministry to some New Yorkers was located right by the parade route. My quadriplegia was severely hampering my ability to walk from the parking garage to the restaurant that day, especially as we neared the parade route and the sidewalk traffic got heavy. A friend walking with us finally insisted that I allow him to help me. 

At first I just held onto his arm to steady myself. As I tired, I rested my forearm on his, and finally ended up holding his hand while leaning into him with my arm on top of his. I was so weary that I failed to consider the message we were sending to the throngs of LGBTQ supporters whom we were dodging and bumping into. 

Hearing about the parade or seeing it on the news, it would have been possible to be repulsed by thousands of people singing, dancing and shouting their solidarity with LGBTers and celebrating the new freedoms granted by our Supreme Court and our culture to do whatever makes us feel good. Up close revulsion was more difficult to feel. The realization that people were assuming my friend and I were together forced me to realize that many other people at the parade including couples with children in strollers were not LGBTers either. 

Somewhere in all those colliding thoughts the idea struck me, what would Jesus do if He was here?

How Can Digital Media Be Used for the Sake of the Gospel?

Experience María's Story of Redemption and Restoration

IFILM Training

So much of the digital world that we live in is expressed through film and media. How might we see this as an opportunity for the sake of the Gospel?  Can we use these platforms to bring messages of hope into the world around us and share stories of what He is doing?

Answering these questions is what the I-FILM training is all about.  Training local churches to reach their communities through media. This training is for those who want to tell Christ-stories and share inspiration. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million!

Are We Ready to Ask the Tough Questions in Missions?

When we summon the courage to ask how people from other cultures see us, we run the real risk of hearing some things about our culture we may not want to hear.

asking-tough-missions-questions

By Steve Saint

Those of us who come from “developed” countries often make the assumption that we are superior to people who have less formal education. We also make the mistake of thinking that those who are poor are inferior. In North America, we are so isolated from radically different cultures that we make the additional mistake of thinking that our way of doing things is the best way, that our lifestyle is best, and that our language is best. All of these assumptions are not only wrong, but work against us in trying to be the “ambassadors” 2 Corinthians 5:20 says God wants us to be.

We can unintentionally intimidate indigenous believers into backing away from what God has called them to do. They are frequently overwhelmed by our superior technology, formal education and wealth. Let’s remember that once they are believers, they are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and they are Ambassadors for Christ.

Hands That Once Killed Now Proclaim The Gospel

The hands that had once been used to kill a man were now being used to remove decayed teeth and share the good news of salvation.

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-30 

ident-dental-training-missions

The newest members of the I-DENT team, Jon and Amy Spenn, recently returned from a dental training trip to Papua, Indonesia with mPower Approach, one of I-TEC’s ministry partners.  They were joined by an oral surgeon from the St. Louis area, and they each took bags loaded with dental supplies and the I-TEC portable dental chairs.  The goal of the trip was to train 6 indigenous Christians in doing basic tooth extractions with the hope that this would give them new opportunities to minister to their communities.

After 5 flights and a 5-hour adventurous car ride over some challenging terrain and dilapidated bridges, they arrived to the remote training site in time to eat lunch with the trainees.  They each took turns introducing themselves and telling the story of how God had brought them to the training. 

Another Day of Infamy

Steve Saint's Shares His Thoughts on the Orlando Tragedy

June 12th 2016, I woke up earlier than usual because my phone ringer was turned all the way up and I had received a text message reminding me that 4 years ago (1460 painful nights, mornings, days and evenings ago) I set out to do a 10 minute experiment to measure the lift generated by a wing mounted to the roof of an old car. I intended to determine whether the wing I was testing could be adapted to the I-TEC flying car.

orlando-shooting-steve-saint-response

That 10 minute experiment and resulting accident radically changed my life. I predict that for the next few years people around the world are also going to remember June 12; not 6/12/12, but 6/12/16; the day when a young man killed or wounded 99 random people in an Orlando nightclub. 

I have a feeling that June 12 might end up being a turning point in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” The incredible attention this terrible act of violence has attracted has partly been an act of grief. But it has also seemed to me that this has been used as an opportunity to show solidarity and acceptance of alternative lifestyles as mainstream. 

The only intolerance allowed from here on will be intolerance of intolerance. I believe we have reached a point in the “evolution” of popular thought where anyone who believes in any unchanging life code will be seen as a dangerous radical. As I mull over the terrible actions of one man killing 49 others who were innocent of trying to harm him, my mind wanders over more and more to the incredible reaction this tragedy is eliciting around the world. From all over the globe there has been an outpouring of desire to show solidarity with people defined by an acronym that has become the battle cry for egalitarianism and against anyone who believes in a fixed code of conduct, be it 10 commandments or 66 books of them. Any limitation of personal freedom is now suspect. 

I-TEC UAV Presented to Missions Aviation Community

What if it were possible to deliver urgently needed medical supplies to rural locations, without an airstrip, airplane, or even a pilot.

Recently the I-TEC Team had the privilege of presenting one of our latest tools, the UAV System, at the IAMA Mission Aviation Conference in North Carolina.  The UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) was well received as a possible complementary tool for aviation ministries to deliver small urgently needed items in remote areas, rain or shine / night and day.

uav-itec-missions-iama

The presentation included an overview of the tool’s capabilities, including autonomous flight and landing, in-flight payload drop, and mission planning based on satellite imagery. The team also explained how this tool fits into I-TEC’s vision, and showed a short video giving a glimpse of possible application.

Feedback at the conference was positive, and we hope to see partnership opportunities arise in the future with the missions aviation community.

Thought From Steve Saint – Evangelism

"I'll bet nobody reads those old tracts any more."

Hi, I’m Steve Saint with a thought for you on evangelism. 

In the New Testament, it says that one of the spiritual gifts that we’re given is evangelism or that we are evangelist.

When I was a kid in Ecuador, we used to practice evangelism in an unusual way. We would take these Spanish tracts that talked about God’s love and about the gospel and usually included a little story of somebody’s life; and as we would drive along, we would throw a bunch of tracts out the window as we would go through towns. Everybody wanted something to read down there in Ecuador. We had to be careful though where we dropped the tracts because if there was a car coming behind us… well when the kids ran after the tracts, they were likely to get run over.