09.30.13

Definitely Worth It

Posted in Ancona, church, culture, ministry, Newsletters at 6:12 am

I was sitting on the beach with the rest of the church members, waiting for everyone to show up. The breeze was a bit chilly, and nearly all the other beach-goers had already packed up and gone home. We were there to celebrate the baptism of one of our church members. Her daughter was baptized just a few weeks earlier, and she finally decided she was ready as well (“…faith like a child…,” indeed).

My teammates often tease me about how bad I am with details and dates, and their teasing is very accurate. So I asked her, “How long have you been a part of our church?”

We took a trip down memory lane and remembered her first contact with the church: our monthly coffee houses. She was interested in practicing English and was friends with others who were regular attenders. Many conversations later, she began to attend our weekly church services. She was on the fringes for a while, unsure in her own Catholic faith, but not quite sure what to do with us Protestants either.

Slowly her faith grew and realized her need for a real relationship with Jesus. But that new relationship meant leaving a lot of the old behind. It meant a lot of wrestling with the truth we find in the Bible. It meant time spent with the believers to see if their faith was the real thing.

And in the end, about six years later, after many conversations and studies and prayer, she decided to put the exclamation mark on her conversion and be baptized in the Adriatic Sea.

Six years. And her experience of slowly coming to faith is not unusual at all. In Ancona, we’re not starting with new, freshly plowed soil that is just waiting for seeds. We’re dealing with soil that is hard, perhaps even damaged or covered with weeds. And it often takes years of prayer, study, and time with other believers to prepare a person’s heart for real grace and forgiveness.
It’s a long process, but definitely worth it.