08.15.12

Down Time

Posted in Ancona, church, culture, Newsletters at 4:55 am

Oh, the slowness of August. As we’ve told you throughout the years most Italians, on average, get a month of vacation time. Much of this time is used in August. Businesses are known to shut down for weeks at a time. Bakeries, coffee bars, newsstands, no one is off limits. One day you go to get the paper, and the sign is there. “Closed for Vacation! We’ll Reopen in 3 Weeks.” With even church members gone for 3 weeks at a time, this can get very discouraging. Our little community looks smaller instead of bigger. We realize just how much work there is to be done here. With one more month left until school starts, this is the perfect time to be with the family and cherish moments with our children.

Pray that we concentrate on these important things instead of getting discouraged with the lack of participation during this month of “holiday.” Pray also that this discouragement can be used as a catalyst for us to pray harder and work alongside God to bring others to His little body of believers here in Ancona.

If you don’t know already, we are here on the field alone for a few months. Our teammate, Kyle, was married on August 5th, and he and his bride, Rebecca, will be stateside until January. Also, our other teammate, Marcus, is on home assignment until November. Pray that all have a wonderful time of rest and renewal. Of course we look forward to their return, but are thankful that they have this time away, as well.

I feel like I have very little to say this month. I suppose these are the moments when I rely on you the most. Thank you so much for your prayers. Thank you for your financial support. Thanks for being a part of this “team!” We really appreciate you all.

Can I ask you to join me in prayer for something? There is a very specific prayer that has been on my heart in the last week or so. Let’s pray together that God will bring us a new family by the time Marcus gets back. Then, that God would bring us another family by the time Kyle and Rebecca arrive. Lastly, pray that our friend Michaela would become a believer while she is a foreign exchange student this year in Wichita. She is an only child, and it would be amazing to see her come back and bring her parents to the Lord.

Until next month…

08.01.12

A Blank Slate

Posted in Ancona, church, ministry, Newsletters at 9:11 am

You may remember from two months ago that Cristina, a woman in our church, had been meeting with a co-worker, Valentina, to talk about Christianity. What made these meetings so wonderful was the complete lack of any missionaries. Cristina relied on the help of the Romanians in our church. The “professionals” … that is, the American missionaries, were completely out of the picture.

Within just a few weeks, we heard that Valentina wanted to get together to talk about getting baptized. I have to confess that I was a little concerned about how fast everything was happening. When you work in a culture where conversions often take a long time, it’s a little surprising to find someone who wants to dive in so quickly.

I returned to the US to attend my grandmother’s funeral, but on the day I left the ladies in our church were headed to meet with Valentina on her break. They read a few passages from the Bible, and Valentina pointed to the Adriatic sea nearby and asked why she should wait and if she could be baptized right away … in her clothes. So Cristina and Valentina waded into the sea and Valentina became a brand-new baby in Christ.

Unfortunately, Valentina has a terrible work schedule and isn’t able to come to worship with us on Sundays. So until her schedule changes, we are sending a few of our members to her to meet before church.

It doesn’t happen very often that someone becomes a Christian and is a completely blank slate. At least in Italy, there is an underlying knowledge of Christianity, even if it’s only surface-deep. But everything for Valentina is new to her. I’ve asked her to read a chapter a day in the gospel of John, and on Sundays we discuss things like who the Pharisees were, and if the Spirit the descended on Jesus at His baptism is the very same that lives inside of her after her baptism. For Valentina, the Good News of the gospel is two-fold: it’s both good and new. What an amazing privilege to be a part of her first steps as a Christian.

Please pray for Valentina in these first days of being a Christian. Pray that we as a church can surround her despite her work schedule. And pray for others like her who need Good News.