Travel Diary 2: The Mission is Advancing in East Africa

Dear ITEM Partners,

One of the great challenges for established organizations is the problem of mission drift. Mission drift happens when an organization slowly and imperceptibly moves away from the founding vision until ultimately the mission is abandoned. One of the primary reasons for this trip is to recast ITEM’s original mission with our country coordinators so that we can guard against the danger of mission drift. And I believe that took place today.

Experts in air navigation have a rule of thumb known as the 1 in 60 Rule. It states that for every 1 degree a plane veers off its course, it misses its target destination by 1 mile for every 60 miles you fly. This means that the further you travel, the further you are from your destination. If you veer off course by 1 degree flying around the equator, you’ll land almost 500 miles off target! One degree doesn’t seem like a big deal initially, but over the long haul it makes a huge difference.

For some time, ITEM leadership has been sensing that perhaps we are a degree off. Therefore, we have been eagerly waiting for the opportunity to gather our country coordinators and reaffirm ITEM’s mission of transforming churches one pastor at a time. Finally, after months of planning and navigating a host of logistical challenges, we were able to meet with some of our coordinators today.

We had coordinators present from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda. It was wonderful for me to meet many of these brothers for the first time. Our time together was filled with teaching, spirited discussion, laughter, discussion of ministry challenges, and prayer, I walked away with several insights.

First, God has blessed ITEM with an exceptionally gifted group of leaders. These men are humble, skilled leaders, passionate about God’s Word, and committed to training others. Additionally, it was a thrill to hear Steve share about the founding of ITEM and how the Lord has sustained and grown it over these last eighteen years. While I have often heard Steve share about the history of ITEM, it never becomes tiresome. It is always an encouraging reminder of God’s faithfulness to establish and provide for His work in the world.

Finally, I was most excited to hear about the breadth of ITEM’s work in East Africa and the stories of churches that have been transformed through ITEM’s E-4 Strategy. In fact, transformation seemed to be the word of the day. After our meeting concluded, I sensed a renewed sense of commitment to ITEM’s mission and a deeper camaraderie among team members. I truly believe the best is yet to come!

After dinner, Nathan took us to get our COVID tests for Burundi. We found out yesterday that our flight to Burundi had been cancelled on 13th and we had been rescheduled for the 14th. Once again, another curveball. But God is in control, and we are resting in His good Providence.

A couple of prayer requests:

  • On Friday we travel to Burundi and must be tested upon arrival for Covid. If it is a rapid test, it will not qualify for our return flight to Kenya on Sunday and we will have to go immediately to another test site to get an approved PCR test. Please pray that we will get the negative test and the results will be available no later than Saturday since we fly back to Kenya on Sunday.
  • Pray also for our time in Burundi. We will be meeting with two other coordinators. Boniface Okalo from Burundi, and Joel Mananga the assistant coordinator from the DRC. Pray for an equally productive meeting with the two of them.

Your Partner in the Gospel,
Chris McMillan


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