Every January we are given new beginnings and an opportunity to take a fresh look at the upcoming year. This year even gives us a fresh start on a new decade. What a unique opportunity to reflect on the previous decade and look ahead to the next one at ITEC.
Over the past few years, we have continued to examine our mission and how it can best be communicated. This led us to update our logo and branding last year. We weren’t changing who we are but making sure we effectively communicate why we exist.
Looking Forward to ‘Equipping’
Looking back, ITEC has invested a lot of energy and effort into training curriculum, developing tools, and conducting training around the world. While we continue to focus on ‘developing’ and ‘training,’ we are excited to explore how we might teach and train mission-minded people in the US how to conduct their own trainings. We believe this focus on equipping others will be beneficial, both to those interested in sustainable short-term trips and to the believers receiving the training. In the past, we have primarily communicated about new tools we developed or recaps of ITEC training trips. However, in the coming years, we are looking forward to walking in-step with you, exploring how training Christ-followers might be an option for you or your church.
As we explore this idea of training trainers domestically, it may be helpful to share how ITEC was started in the first place: My Dad, Steve, founded ITEC after listening to the Waodani’s request to learn how to do the things missionaries were doing for them. The Waodani wanted to learn how to provide medical and dental care, as well as to fly airplanes. My Dad wondered why the Waodani would need to learn these things if they were already provided through local missionaries.
A Focus Rooted in the Past
The Great Omission book was written after wrestling through some very difficult questions relating to this request. My Dad realized that on short-term trips, we westerners have often brought a ‘fix-it mindset’ to the field. In doing this, we have forgotten to teach, encourage, and even learn from the indigenous believers we are aiming to help. This unintentionally created cycles of dependency and even perpetuated ideas that missionaries, or cross-cultural workers, are required to fix something in order to participate in Christ’s Great Commission.
ITEC was formed in response to the Waodani believers asking my Dad to train them with tools to meet the needs of their community as a door opener to share the Gospel. My Dad responded to this request, although even he had doubts that this concept could work. How would westerners react to taking the back seat and partnering with indigenous believers? Could we possibly teach indigenous people how to do what we have been doing for them?
In spite of these concerns, the ITEC team has continued to work towards accomplishing this mission and we’ve struggled, triumphed, made mistakes, and experienced successes on this path. As we have pressed on, it has been encouraging to see churches in the US catching this vision and believers overseas rejoicing at the new opportunities they will have for evangelism in their communities.
It is a natural progression for us to begin looking more formally at training trainers in the US. By sharing what we have learned, we can allow God to increase and multiply as He sees fit, and for His glory. This makes our team excited to embark on a new year and new decade with the same mission, but with new opportunities and challenges. During this new season, ITEC will be exploring more ways to promote the challenge the Waodani brought to my Dad in the mid-’90s. Their challenge started ITEC, and is the same challenge we continue to work through: “What would it look like to go and train, rather than go and do?”
We would love for you to join us in wrestling with this question. We have some ideas on what this may look like and hope to share some of those ideas as the year continues. Another great way to join the conversation is by listening to our new podcast, Mission Minded. In this podcast, we invite you to engage in discussions with mission-minded individuals we have interviewed. They come from diverse backgrounds and work all over the world. They will help us move this discussion forward from their broad base of knowledge and experience.
If you are reading this article, you are a part of the extended ITEC team. We are so thankful for your prayer and financial support. You are a huge encouragement to us as we continue the work the Lord has called us to do. Thank you and Happy New Decade.