01.19.12

Ten Years?!

Posted in Ancona, church, ministry, Newsletters at 2:36 am

Did I really just type “Volume 10” up there? Have we been a part of the team here in Ancona for ten years? How is that possible? The first few years were spent raising funds in the US (that was tough), but Heidi and I are about to hit our seventh anniversary in Italy.

The changes that we’ve seen in those ten years are really incredible. We’ve watched the church go from all-Americans to a mix of Italians, Romanians, and Americans. We’ve seen teammates come and go. We’ve crammed Italian into our heads and I still get excited when it comes out right. We’ve changed ministry roles. Our kids have gone through preschool, elementary, and middle school. Heidi and I (OK, mostly Heidi) have matured and grown through years of difficult ministry. Despite all of the change, one constant remains. God’s presence. We cannot help but look back over these ten years and see how God has been moving and shaping things to lead us up to this moment.

The church here in Ancona is young, but maturing. We pray a lot together. We study together. We’re still working on establishing leadership in the church and we’re praying God brings in a harvest through us soon. But I can honestly tell you that I have never been a part of a community of believers like this one. I am so proud to see how far we’ve come.

Our goal has always been to work ourselves out of a job, and we’re getting to the point where that finally looks possible. As a team we have decided that, with God’s help, we think our work will be done in Ancona within five years. It will require a lot of hard work between now and then, and there are a lot of question marks still, but I’m beginning to see how the presence of the “paid experts” can harm a church after a while. It seems like our church members’ gifts will never mature and develop when there’s never really a need for them. And so we cautiously, prayerfully, begin the process of disengaging.

Thanks to our supporters, some of whom have been with us all ten years. That’s really incredible, isn’t it? Ten years of prayers and donations to see this church plant happen, and now we’re at the “beginning of the end.” Please keep praying and lifting this church up. We need it now more than ever.

Until next month…