An oasis

Posted in Ancona, church, ministry at 1:43 am

There are perks to being a pastor in a city surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. Although Ancona itself isn’t known for its beaches, a 20 minute drive up or down the coast will get you to some of the finest places to spend a day off you could imagine.

We usually head to the beach before lunch, and take sandwiches to eat when we get hungry. The walk from the car to the beach is pretty far, and the uphill climb on the way home seems like it will never end. But fortunately for us, we have an oasis. One of the Romanian families that attends our church live just about half way between the beach and the parking lot. And they get offended if we don’t stop by and say hello.

One Saturday, quite a few of the church members organized to go to the beach together. There were maybe 15 or 20 of us there, and as the sun went down we all packed our stuff up to head home. I was lagging behind, arms full with the cooler and beach toys. As I got near the Romanian’s house, I noticed their front door open. And inside was … everyone! They were busy making espressos for everyone. The kids were already playing Playstation. People were laughing. At some point a watermelon found its way to the table.

And I was struck by how hospitable these friends were. They thought nothing of inviting 15 people into their small living room and serving coffee. We were all salty from the sea, and yet they invited us to sit on their furniture and chat. If anyone would have passed by their house, I truly think they would have been upset. So we sat practically on top of each other and recharged ourselves for the second half of the walk to the car.

Isn’t this how the church should be? Not just on beach days, but every day? Shouldn’t we always be ready to fling open our doors and invite in whoever happened to stop by? Shouldn’t our house look like an oasis to thirsty people passing by?


Drenched in Prayer

Posted in 24-7 Prayer, Ancona, church, ministry, Newsletters at 2:51 am

When the alarm went off at 6 AM on Monday, I wasn’t thinking good things about Kyle, my teammate.

Mondays are usually a slower day for me. I don’t have any regular meetings scheduled, and I spend part of my day planning out my week and thinking through conversations that took place on Sunday during our church service. The introvert in me takes some time to recharge on Mondays.

But this week was different. Kyle had the idea to do a Jericho prayer walk. Remember how the Israelites marched around Jericho one time a day for seven days, and on the seventh day they marched seven times? And as they finished the last lap, God miraculously brought the walls of the city down.

Ancona’s physical walls are long gone, but the spiritual walls here seem stronger than ever. The church here is making efforts at knocking them down, but sometimes it seems we have a long way to go.

We met at the monument at 7:00, walking along the Viale until we got to the port, and then we turned around and went back the way we came. It took about an hour every day.
We prayed for anything and everything: our church, the church members, our neighbors, spiritual growth, our leadership, maybe even world peace. We prayed for big things and small things.

That weekend, our church hosted another 24 hour prayer room, and this time the one-hour slots filled up very quickly. It seemed as though many went into the prayer room desperate for some time with their Creator.

Sunday morning, we finished the prayer walk with seven laps, though I couldn’t be there until the very end since Heidi was taking her turn in the prayer room. It was a week completely drenched in prayer.

It was also the hottest week we have had here in Ancona. Many of our activities take place at night when it is cooler, which made for a long day when the prayer walk starts at 7.

But I can’t think of a better reason to be tired. Despite my selfish bad thoughts when the alarm went off, a jump in the amount of time we spend talking to God can only be a good thing.

Because it really is up to Him, isn’t it? We make sure we’re the brightest possible light, and the saltiest Christians we can be.

So now we wait for the walls to come down.