Archive for June, 2008

25
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

                                                                                                                                                                   To Milan on my way to Gatwick, London.

YOU THINK I’M FINISHED OR AT LEAST I OUGHT TO BE…

The truth is, I have only scratched the surface of all that God is doing. I wish I had time to tell you of Pius, the eighteen year old Kenyan boy who lost his family in the recent uprisings, how he made it across Chad and Libya to be found by Pastor Francesco on the streets of Parma and how they have taken him in and brought him to Christ.

 

I wish I could tell you about Giuseppe who, three years ago, attended every night of my classes on evangelism and the gospel and how he was baptized on Sunday last.

 

Or about other new Christian’s like Fabio and Marcello, Italian’s who have so grown in the Lord that in one year they have become leaders of the Christian’s in Parma. I’d like to tell you about Ruthie, Kevin, Daniel, Denny, Jessica, Cristiano, Clara and thirty other young believers who are surrendered to Christ and the gospel. I’d like to tell you of Belkis (Dominican Republic) and Victor (Argentina) YWAM workers living in Parma after being expelled from the Sahara.

WHILE WAITING ON MY FLIGHT IN THE MILANO MALPENSA AIRPORT…

I met Chris in the Easy Jet line. Though twenty years younger than I, right from the beginning we hit it off. We were trying to match one another with jokes and small talk. He had been from London to Italy to play football and binge drink for the weekend but confessed to me that his fellow footballers managed to get more soused than he. Chris liked me enough to follow me around to my table in the airport coffee shop.

 

Finally, when it came round to what we did, it turned out that he was well traveled in American and familiar with such obscure cities as Raleigh, North Carolina. How, I asked it was, that he might have visited Raleigh and it turned out that he works for The Body Shop in the corporate ethics division. I knew something about The Body Shop and its leadership in the development of corporate ethics. I wanted to know where the ground for ethics came from? He confessed that they just sort of made it up by why that thought was best. I pointed out (tongue in cheek) that this is what Hitler and the Nazi’s did. I then talked to him about the ‘Ought” from C. S. Lewis. Where does “Ought” come from? Why should I “Ought” not push him from his chair. Anyway, to make a long story short, he was very interested in how I knew all of this stuff. I inquired if he had ever heard of Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Colson or C.S. Lewis and then I remarked that Colson had once spoken on Ethics to the Harvard Business School for a week before he realized that the students had no idea of what he had been trying to present. I was able to explain that, in order to have ethics, we have to decide from what source they derive. If they (ethics) emanate from the mind of man they are simply conveniences for one and inconveniences for another – appropriate for one, inappropriate for another, protection for one and perilous for another. Fifty-one percent of the people give us our justification for whatever we decide and if this is true then we can murder whomever we please. We don’t have to worry about what our research might do to a rabbit. He liked it.

 

AFTER CHRIS ROSE TO LEAVE I STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION WITH I THOUGHT MIGHT BE A HINDU OR SOME SUCH THING…

This fellow was also young and seated alone though I had earlier seen him with a young woman who turned out to be his wife. If I had seen her up close, I would have known that, at least, she was a Hindu as she had the third eye and red guru strands around her wrist.

 

I noticed his jacket. He had embroided over his breast pocket, “Love all of those that HE loves.” When I saw it I thought that it might be Christian because it had that sort of Christianese ring to it. If I were to guess, I would imagine that, in fact, it was a Christian slogan to begin with. He simply bought it because he liked the sound of it. He didn’t have a clue as to the implications so I asked him, “Who is the HE?”

He was surprised that I had spoken to him so he said, “Excuse me, sir?” He replied, “Who?” “

“The HE, who is the HE,” I repeated.

Excitedly he answered, “Oh, God!”

“Which God?” I wanted to know.

So he did his best, “God.” At the same time he said this, he gestured upwardly with his finger.

“Any God?”, I queried.

I went on, “I mean are you a Christian?  Hindu? A Buddhist? A Muslxm? “

“Oh, I don’t follow any particular religion,” was his hesitant response.

“My God is without attributes. He is just God – the unknowable God.”

 

Without boring you with the details I simply tell you that he played right into my hands and said exactly what I had hoped he might say. “So then, why do you wear the slogan when the “HE” is capitalized? This indicates exactly the opposite of your proposition. This is a clear indication of personhood.” Oh my, can you imagine what the next ten minutes might have been like as I explained to him the God who has attributes, is trustworthy, merciful, all knowing, righteous, et al?

 

SUSAN FROM NEW ZEALAND

Cute and perky she took the seat between me at the window and another, older man on the aisle. I saw that she was with someone, a strong looking fellow who would turn out to be her fiancé and also from New Zealand. They were both living in London. She had been a banker but had left three months before to pursue a career in cake decorating and he had moved into a new profession as a broker. We exchanged courtesies and backgrounds and then she asked if I was on holiday. When I told her that i worked in Europe she wanted to know what it was that I did and I asked which answer she wanted? Would she like the real one or the “politically correct” one. She opted for the real one. For twenty minutes I talked about the meaning of life. She was getting married to the young man two rows ahead of her so I suggested that she must have employed philosophy in order to say, “Yes” to his proposal. I told her that all of life’s decisions required a certain amount of philosophical reasoning. I asked if she considered the gene pool she was marrying into? She agreed that she did think about that. I wanted to know if she thought Gary to be moral, a man of good intentions and character? She liked this course of discussion so I took her to Jesus and building her house upon a rock and then suggested that she and Gary visit Holy Trinity Church in Brompton and commence their marriage upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.

 

MORE? OF COURSE THERE IS… BUT THIS IS ENOUGH.

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25
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

 SUNDAY, JUNE 8…GRUPPO CRISTIANO LATINO AMERICANO, PARMA…

Photo from CastelloTorrechiara, near Parma.

The church began to fill up and by the time services began more chairs were being brought out of the back and lined up against the walls. This is a new facility but even before they opened the doors and had their first service

the church was full. What began about four years ago has grown from 20 people to 150 with an average Sunday attendance of more than ninety. On this particular Sunday there were one-hundred and two people in the auditorium. We regularly see people converted to Christ.

 

With Mariela translating, I preached on “Making the Good Thing Happen” from the feeding of the five thousand. At the close people were seemingly excited as I demonstrated how a few people passing the bread causes the miracle to happen. The good thing never happens if people hoard what little they have. When I look at the leadership, the church, the people, the money and resources, the city of Parma, Italy, Europe, I see nothing but extremity and yet a great miracle is taking place because people are passing what God has placed into their hands. It was a powerful closing message to Doug’s week of teaching on small group ministry.

25
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, JUNE 6 and 7 –

VISITING WITH LOCAL BELIEVERS…

On Friday at lunch, Doug and I had seafood risotto and calamari with Osvaldo and Margarite Azzone and their three children. They lead the worship in the Spanish church. In the evening I managed to get in an hour of counseling before the class began.

 

Saturday we hopped on a train and went to Fidenza (12 minutes west) where we had lunch with OM MuslXm worker and our Italian translator, Simona Restori, her two children and another missionary, Irene from Germany.

 

   

    Irene

 

Simona and her children, Camella and Josiah. 

_____________________________________________________________________

Visiting with Latino leaders in Parma.

                                                                        

 

  Luciano and Marilene.

 

After several hours with friends we went back to Parma where, in the evening had an amazing Columbian supper (no wonder I walk all over Italy but never lose any weight) with Luciano and Marilene workers in the Latino Church. Pastor Aldo and his wife, Mariela joined us. Since I had to pack, preach and then travel to England the next day, we retired early.

 

 

   A Columbian supper. 

24
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

The Kingdom Grows! 

                                                        

PRESENTLY ASSISTING SIX CONGREGATIONS

AND MORE THAN

670 BELIEVERS…

Via Garibaldi in Parma.

When I began in Europe I had no contacts. Today ACCI in Italy and Slovenia have first level relationships with Gruppo Cristiano Latino Americano, Parma (150 people), Chiesa di Evangelica di Parma (50 people), Temple of Light (Parma and Casalmaggiore (220 people), Parola di Grazia, Sassuolo (80 people), Trento, Italy (80 people), The Pentecostal Church of Ljublijana, Slovenia (70 people). We are excited to see how God is using our efforts. All of the churches are growing both numerically and nutritionally. We have other developing opportunities but need more qualified workers who can come under and assist the vision and leadership of local pastors.

23
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

(Our 42nd Wedding Anniversary) –

OFF TO CASALMAGGIORE

TO SEE PASTOR JOSEPH MENSEH…

Joseph came to Italy from Ghana when he was only 18 years old. He originally came to work and help support his family still in Africa. When he first arrived he found a couple of other young men who were willing to join him for prayer. As he put it, “How can we make it without the help of the Almighty.” In the twenty years that followed that small prayer group has grown into a church of more than 200 African’s and is now one of the strongest churches in the region. Joseph, a simple man without formal theological training, has led his church to two congregations, their own facility that seats four hundred and a witness to the Italian people. I met with him to see how we might encourage him. I wanted to find out if there might be any way in which we could combine our resources and thereby be more supportive and effective. I have worked with Joseph on a couple of other occasions and have found him to be a good friend and tireless Christian. I went away feeling more inspired by him than he by me. We have decided to see how we (ACCI and Temple of Light Ministries) might link our efforts.

 

 

 

Amazing achievment! The Lord has helped this immigrant church to purchase and remodel this large ministry facility.

23
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

Piazza Garibaldi in Parma.
TOMORROW ACCI MEMBER, PASTOR FRANCESCO ABORTIVI
TAKES ME TO MEET PUBLISHING AND MISSION LEADERS
IN THE TORINO AREA…
We intend to meet with the Italian OM Director where we will discuss teaming with them in missionary training.  We will then go on to meet the Director of La Casa di Bibbia, the largest publisher of Christian materials in Italy. It is possible that at the same time we will meet a similar person from Switzerland who cooperates with the Italian group. These are important opportunities for our Norwegian partner, New Life Literature and their printing house in Sri Lanka. We would love to see Europe flooded with quality Christian books. At the present time there may be fewer than 100 titles translated into Italian with virtually nothing available on evangelism, apologetics or theology. When in Slovenia we were able to find only one title on evangelism.

TUESDAY EVENING DOUG HAMM BEGAN HIS COURSE ON SMALL GROUP WITH 44 PEOPLE FROM TWO CHURCHES…

 As reported earlier, Doug Hamm, ACCI Board Member from Victoria, BC came over

to join me. He taught four nights with forty-four exposed to some portion of the course and 27 regulars showing up each night. The school ended on Friday night with enormous thanks from all and an indication from the pastors that the content came at just the right time.

Break-out study session on Tuesday evening.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4 –

TO TORINO AND MEETINGS WITH OM AND CASA DELLA BIBBIA DIRECTORS…

Francesco picked me up at eight in the morning and we rushed on to the Autostrada and drove to Torino, one of the largest cities in Italy some 350 kilometers away. At 160 kms. per hour it seems closer than it really is. By the way, we were easily being passed by BMW’s and Alpha Romeo’s going in excess of 200 kms. or 120 miles per hour.

OPERATION MOBILZATION DIRECTOR, ELISEO GUADAGNO…

Before reaching Torino we met along the highway with Eliseo, a tremendous young man who has previously served with the OM Logos ship. I had met his wife last fall while she was serving with the muslXm outreach (Love Ishmael) in Parma. After meeting with Eliseo in a short meeting of an hour we decided that we liked each other and that we would partner wherever and whenever possible. In particular we discussed how ACCI, Bethany and OM could work together by putting more missionaries and teams into Italy and Europe.

Our associate Francesco with Italian OM Director, Eliseo.

LA CASA DELLA BIBBIA (The House of the Bible)

DIRECTOR GIANCARLO FARINA…

This is the number one Christian book publisher in Italy. Every year Giancarlo and his team attempt to translate and publish twelve new titles for the Italian church. We, in Canada and America, take books for granted. In Italy and all of Europe it is almost impossible to get good Christian literature. I set out to meet Giancarlo for the purpose of telling him about our low cost NLL printing partnership in Norway and Sri Lanka. With Francesco there to translate – when I got stumped in Italian and Giancarlo in English – we were able to discuss the many ways in which ACCI and NLL could compliment his effort. We returned to Parma just in time for a quick pizza and Francesco’s appointment to translate for Doug.

 

Print products from La Casa della Bibbia.

 

 

23
Jun
08

Italy and Slovenia Ministry Report / Spring 2008

BACK TO TRIESTE AND THE TRAIN TO PARMA…
We arrived late into Parma and picked up at the train station after 10:30 at night. Hot and tired from ten hours of travel we looked forward to the National holiday and a day of rest on Monday.

TONIGHT,

First night with forty-four students in attendance.

DOUG BEGINS HIS SMALL GROUP TRAINING COURSE…


We have about thirty  enrolled or should I say,”expected” to take thecourse.  Enrollment is a hard thing to procure in a country where people work long hours and have transportation challenges. We begin the classes amidst tension as the neighbor has gone ballistic against the church and has done everything but call the police. He is now making videos of all that goes on and on Sunday was livid and abusive with Pastor Aldo before the church services began. He refuses to discuss what he wants and appears to be completely irrational on the subject. Please pray. Things of this nature take their toll. Nevertheless, the church recalls the story in Acts and believes that revival must be on the way as they are being told that they can no longer speak or teach in this name. Over the last few weeks we have seen a number of conversions and new people coming. Surprisingly some of the visitors are Italian’s. We now have a good Italian contingent with about ten or fifteen believers.

Doug Hamm with ACCI missionary and translator, Francesco Abortivi.