God is at work in Foligno! An update

Several people wrote me asking me: “How did it go?”

Vocal Artists of GRThe amazing thing is that I have not been back in the office since the day of the concert.  I think we set a new record of busyness!
Thursday night we got back around midnight from the concert.
Friday and Saturday I went to translate for a pastor’s enrichment conference in Assisi and was gone until supper time.
Sunday I was in charge of baptizing three people.
Yesterday I tried to stay away from technology and spend time with my family, who was starting to forget what I looked like!

We feel like the concert was a great success. 

Certainly there are things we could have hoped to go better, but overall we feel very confident that it was a good investment of time and money.

Paolo and JonPaolo put it best in his prayer: “Thank you Lord that there were not so many people to make us proud and so few people that we didn’t feel like we made a difference”.

Here are a few things to celebrate:

  • The musicians did an outstanding job.
  • My presentation during halftime went well.  I presented the reason for the concert and invited the audience to come to our next meeting on October 28th.
  • The church planting team from CEB did an amazing job.  Teamwork was incredible.  We even had some members who were able to share Christ with some of the people present!
  • We had a good attendance of about 150 people.  Several people asked for Bible calendars and pick up materials, and at least half of those present were unbelievers, many in contact with us for the first time!
  • Were starting to recover from the challenges.  Daniel is out of the hospital from his appendectomy, and a few of us (including Melodee and I) are getting over our influenza without missing a beat.  I’m also starting to get over the fact that I backed into Donatella’s car on our way to the concert Thursday night!

Meetings

You may be asking: How can you pray now?

  1. Pray for Sunday. We have our next meeting on the theme of the reformation in a beautiful setting that can guest as many as 50 people.
  2. Pray for preparations for the Bible study.
  3. Pray for me as I finish filling out royalty paperwork for the concert.
  4. Pray for the team as the recuperate and get ready for this next event!
  5. Pray for a good crowd and that everything will go smoothly!

Foligno: Make it or break it!

When we returned to Italy on September 5th we didn’t have the slightest idea how rapidly God would be moving the work in Foligno.

Now we have an urgent prayer request for you.

This year Perugia celebrates 25 years of its sister city relationship with Grand Rapids, MI (where are sending church is located and where we went to college).

They asked us to invite a choral group from Grand Rapids as we had done in the past and they organized two concerts for them: one in Perugia and one in Todi.

We realized that this would be a great opportunity to also have them sing in Foligno, where we feel God would have us invest in a future church plant.

We were able to rent  the most beautiful and large concert hall in Foligno for next Thursday, October 18th at 9 PM (3 pm EST) for a concert of classical music and artists that I work with and also vocalists from Grand Rapids, MI.  If we fill the hall we will have 540 people in attendance!

We have decided to use this event as a way to get our name out with unbelievers in the city and announce that on the Sundays of October 28th, November 18th and December 16th we will have three meetings in a beautiful medieval hall just outside the town. We could fit up to 50 people in this hall.

Meetings

Advertising the meetings

After these initial meetings on the theme of the reformation we hope to have some contacts to start a Bible study in the new year. 
We have a core of people from our church and especially a young couple who we have previously mentioned who are busy with the legwork.

Please pray:

  1. – Pray for the concert hall to be full.
  2. – Pray that the right people will attend.
  3. – Pray for the concert to go well.
  4. – Pray for the presentation of the project during intermission.
  5. – Pray for our monthly meetings to be full, and to have the right content for those meetings.
  6. – Pray that we will be able to start Bible studies next year.
  7. – Pray for out protection and guidance.

I am asking you to pray with us and gather prayer warriors for this project.
We are in it way above our heads, so we need so much prayer.

I’m asking you boldly because God has already done above and beyond our expectations.

Great opportunities ahead!

Five ways everything is about to change.

As I write this note to you from the comfort of my in-laws’ dining room, I’m conscious about the fact that everything is about to get a little crazy.

I’ll admit, this summer has not been the epitome of relaxation:

  1. PreachingWe spoke almost 20 times and tried to meet with as many friends and family as possible.
  2. We have slept in about 20 different beds.
  3. We racked up over 5,000 miles of driving on our borrowed car. (Thanks Mom Z!)
  4. We have had physicals and dental work (for a total of nine fillings!).
  5. We have been in three week-long conferences.

All the while trying to keep up with people in Italy and Noah’s summer homework.

One man innocently asked us: “Why are you here?  Do you need money?”  The simple answer is that more than anything we need prayer.

If we have prayer God will provide the money too.
But if we don’t have prayer, all the money in the world will not suffice to meet our needs!

We need prayer because we are about to embark in some of greatest adventures yet:

  1. Sunday evening we will be speaking at Starkey Road Baptist Church, in Seminole, Florida.  This will be our greatest chance this summer to share our vision with people who are not already familiar with our ministry.  Please pray that we can make significant new connections and partnerships!
  2. Tuesday morning Melodee’s Dad will take us to the airport to fly back to Italy. We will be arriving Wednesday morning in Rome. (Thanks Mom and Dad W!). We are still waiting on a few important things we ordered online, such as extra suitcases.  Yikes!  We’re cutting it close!
  3. We begin strategizing to reach the unreached city of Foligno, a half an hour drive from Perugia.
  4. We continue to invest in people and train leaders for ministry at the Centro Evangelico Battista.
  5. We continue to reach people through personal evangelism; connecting with people at our kids’ schools, through music (my quintet already wants to plan the next rehearsal).

Pray that we can make the best use of our time and organizes our life around the most important things.

Pray that we can make the most of every one of these opportunities! 
It’s so easy to fall back into the routine and neglect the most important things that God is calling us to do.

Will you commit to pray for us every day this week and, why not,  this whole next month?

There are great opportunities ahead, but we can’t do it without you!

Lost and Found

 

DepartureI’m sure you can relate…that sinking suspicion that something is missing…
As we stood in line to re-enter the United States Tuesday evening, we realized that with all the craziness we had left Melodee’s purse on the airplane.
All of Melodee’s Italian and American documents (except for her passport, gratefully), money, credit cards and wedding band were in that purse.
We knew exactly where it was.  We even knew how to get there.  But we could not go back.  It was too late.  Would we ever see it again?  There was no guarantee.  Nobody seemed to know where it was and kept passing us to another office.
As we went through customs, as we waited for our next flight, as we flew on, as we arrived in Fort Myers to the welcoming arms of Melodee’s parents, as we tried to sleep…all we could do was pray that her purse would be found.

Jesus knows that we can relate to that theme.  In fact, he equated our salvation to something precious that had been hopelessly lost.

Sometimes you have to realize how much you are lost to truly appreciate that you’ve been found!

Praise God for his precious gift of salvation!  Why is it so hard for us to remember that there is nothing more important in the world for us?

Our trip has had other adventures. 
We had to purchase a top carrier to fit all our luggage as we drove through tropical storm Alberto.
Obviously, without a driver’s license, Melodee could not drive.
A little before Daytona, our service transmission light went on.  God provided a mechanic who promptly took us in, right there in the car racing city.
God provides above and beyond.  The purse was found.  The car is fine.

First Week Itinerary

First Week Itinerary

We get the idea that perhaps this message we must share is important enough to attract the attention of the devil.  So much to share! Such important news!  God is a work in Italy!

Sunday we will be at a Meet and Greet at First Baptist of Elkhart, Indiana (see the rest of our itinerary here.)

From there we will settle in to our mission home for the summer in Grand Rapids.

Here are a few quick prayer requests:

  1. Travel protection
  2. Spiritual protection
  3. Refining our presentation and making good connections
  4. Preparing worship for the Baptist Mid-Missions Family Conference
  5. Keeping connected to people here and Italy

Our theme this year comes from Colossians 4:2–3

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. [3] At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison. (ESV)

Thank you for praying!  We never want to leave home without it!