Newsletter 40a - April 2002
An effective prayer
During the summer of every year, I have always prayed for new students for the Bible studies at the university, and asked others to pray in the same way. And every year God has replied with at least one person. Now is the time to start praying for this again, because at the end of May the last student in the group (Robyn) will be leaving Trento, and so we will need new students for the restart of the academic year in October.
This same prayer has had an effect in the Valsugana valley as well. This year the group has struggled to meet together, and with some people moving out of the area we were down to a couple (Massimo and Ester) and a single (Giorgia), as well as myself. Knowing that we would be arriving at this state, all year we have been praying for new people to come to the group, just as I had prayed every year at the university. And God replied in the same way, all in the last month. First there were Jury and Gloria - Jury got a job in the valley, so they will be moving there in June, back to the town that Gloria comes from. Then we heard of Andrea, who is the boyfriend of the daughter of the pastor of a nearby church (ie 120 kilometres to the north-east). On the weekends he goes to that church, but has started coming to the studies in the Valsugana every second week (in the other weeks he works in the evening). Finally, Alfonso is an Albanian Christian that has been coming to the church on and off for a few years - on and off, because he would work in Italy for a few months, and then go back to Albania for a few months. Last time he was in Albania he got married, and then returned with his wife Luli. They are permanently staying in Italy now, and last month got an apartment in a town in the valley. So all of a sudden there is a good sized group again, more than replacing the number of people who had left. We have even started talking again about doing evangelism in the valley, which was not possible before when we were only talking about surviving as a group. I suppose though that in the next couple of months the group will need to settle down as we get to know each other, and then there is the long summer break. But there is a lot of promise for next year. Especially as these is one of the areas in which we would like to plant an independent church in the future.
At the university
It is only April, but already it is time to start thinking about the end of the (academic) year. As I said, Robyn will be leaving in about a month, so it is time to start praying for new students for next year. Either that would move to Trento to study, or that might start coming as a result of a couple of evangelistic events in the next month. The first is next Thursday, when there is the regular Bible study. But we have made it a special meeting, organised for friends we might invite, and we have done some advertising around the university. The second will be on June 1, when there is the annual end of year festival at the Engineering faculty, and where I will have a stall together with the other associations.
On a national level, due to a lack of numbers, unfortunately the "Communicating the Word" conference I mentioned last time had to be cancelled (or maybe postponed until next year). This meant however that I was unexpectedly free last weekend, and I was able to join the town band in their trip to Porec in Croatia, where we did two concerts. It was good to be able to spend more time with these friends in the band. Pray also for continuing opportunities to speak with them about Jesus.
In the church
Now that spring has arrived, as happens every year people are more social and more willing to do things together. So for example, in April the average participation at the Sunday services was back to what it was in October and November, after dropping by almost a third during the winter. This spring life is also reflected in the other events which the church is organising in this period - for example a pizza together next Saturday and a weekend away as a church in June. Vincenzo and I will also start a monthly literature distribution next Saturday, starting with just us two but then hoping to also get others involved.
May 2: Evangelistic study at the university
May 15-17: GBU staff meeting
May 27: FEMI meeting for missionaries
June 1: Probable date for the end of year festival at the university, where I will have a GBU stall.
June 2: Baptism of Claudio and Nicol - they arrived in the church in November, and since then I have visited them and done some studies with them fairly regularly
June 21-23: First ever church houseparty
June 24-July 9: Summer mission at Perugia - more on this next time.