Newsletter 34a - September 2000
The long summer has now come to an end here, which means a change in my lifestyle. After an unusually long two months at home, I have started travelling again, with two trips away in the last week. The first, with some people from the church, was to two ‘theological days’ organised by an evangelical theological institute at a city not too far from Trento. The second was to a conference. Since it started on my birthday, and ended on my eighth anniversary of leaving Australia and which was also the opening day of the Olympic Games, it might have seemed to have been organised in my honour. But rather, it was for church leaders and missionaries in Italy. I have been to many such conferences in my time, but this was one of the most helpful and encouraging. First of all for the teaching, that centred on the exposition of the Bible and the importance of the truth of the Gospel. Secondly, for the participants: more than 200 leaders of the evangelical church. My knowledge of evangelical church history does not go back far enough to be sure, but it was probably one of the largest ever such gatherings of evangelical leaders. Certainly, it seemed that ‘anyone who is anyone’ was there, with the vast majority of my friends and contacts that serve God in other churches, and that I see only occasionally, present. So it was a good time for catching up, ‘networking’, and sharing experiences. What was interesting in both of these trips was being able to meet up with many of what I call my virtual contacts and my clients - people I have corresponded with, and at times collaborated with, by e-mail, without having ever met. Or people that use my computer program to study the Bible or visit my web site, and recognising me from my name tag came up to greet me, even though I had no idea who they were.
With the end of the summer, there is also the restart of the church activities. Those that I am in mainly responsible for - the Bible study at Trento and that in the Valsugana - are restarting this week. After talking with the leaders of the church, we decided that there would be a slight change in my responsibilities this year: a little less time in the group at Trento (where there are others able to take on some of the work), and more in the group in the Valsugana. Then, at the beginning of October, classes will be restarting at the university, and I will then start trying to initiate something there. So you could pray that these activities get going well, and that this year they might lead to a growth in godliness of those that attend. There is also my annual prayer request: that I might find some students at the university willing to read the Bible with me. It is a request that I repeat at least every year, but, looking back, it is also a prayer that I can say has been answered positively almost every time.
Some events in the coming weeks:
October 11-14: GBU staff meeting.
October 20-22: A weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GBU this year.
October 24: Prayer meeting for north Italy, at Milan.