Newsletter 42a - November 2002
In the church
The new group at Trento the first of what I hope will be a series of cells in the city is going well, with six attending: Claudio and Nicole, Salvatore and Anna, Luli, and myself - plus three toddlers and a minus two month old baby. I am still looking to get other people involved in the group as well.
The group in the Valsugana has five regulars, including myself, but with the desire amongst all of us for the group to grow. So we decided to pray specifically this year for new people not only in the group, but that they would become Christians as well. The prayer will soon be answered in an unexpected way, as Salvatore and Anna with their family will move back to the valley, and so will change from the new group at Trento to the Valsugana group as well. There has also been more interest lately amongst Ester's friends to whom she has been witnessing for many years, with some starting to come to the group occasionally. This has meant that my stock of prepared evangelistic studies is getting thin, as I have kept having to change the study at the last minute when I find out who is coming. Pray especially for Flora and Bruno (sister and brother), who are interested and have come at times, but have personal difficulties as well which make it difficult for them to attend regularly.
Those that heard me speak when I was in Australia last year might remember that one of my projects was to start a Youth Group in the church with the four teenage girls that there were at that stage. That never got going, as some of them moved away, others lived too far away, and other reasons. The church is making another attempt now with the three teenage girls in the church, although someone else (Pinuccia) will be looking after the group rather than me. Although there will be soon the same sorts of problems one goes to England to visit her boyfriend every 4-6 weeks, and the other two belong to the family moving out to the Valsugana. There could also be a fourth girl in the group, but she lives 45 minutes away in another direction, and so can only come to church occasionally. In any case, they will start the group now, and see what can be done after the Christmas break. It is incidentally for these sorts of problems that the church wants to start new groups in the different valleys and towns around us if we could have four youth groups, one meeting in each area of the province, and not just one at Trento, all the youth could attend close to their own home and it would be a lot easier. So keep praying for that vision, and that new people would come who want to start new churches in the valleys.
At the universities
The Bible studies at the university have still not commenced for this academic year. There is a Christian student at the university (Filippo), but since he still has not yet found an apartment at Trento he commutes from his home (almost two hours by train) when he has too, and so is not at Trento often or regularly. We hope nevertheless to have some meeting before the Christmas break, and then to get going in the New Year.
As mentioned last time, I have also been helping a few students to form a group at Verona. I travelled there to meet Michele, who is the main student involved, to talk to him about the GBU and the sort of things they could do to evangelise at the university. Then the following weekend three students from Verona were at the GBU student training weekend for northern Italy at Florence that I helped at Michele, his girlfriend Jessica, and Patrick (an Irish student studying at Verona this year; although we had not met he knew my house, as he slept in my bedroom returning from the summer evangelistic team two years ago, when I was in Australia). I also discovered recently that one of my 'clients' is in this group somebody that uses my computer program to study the Bible wrote and mentioned in passing that he was starting a group at the university of Verona with a few friends, and I was able to reply saying that I already knew about this and was praying for it. They had their first meeting last week, and are planning to continue each month with an evangelistic meeting, and with another monthly meeting for the Christians for planning and prayer.
In the band
I am happy for the friendships that I have with people in the band. Other Italians say that people from Trento are not really Italians, as they are closed and cold. And it is true, it takes time to develop deep friendships here, which is perhaps good for me as I am like that too. So after almost two years in the band, even though I have had friends there all that time, now I see that the friendships are less superficial, and that they are trusting me and asking me for help. For example, I am now meeting with Francesca weekly for English conversation, and Michela and Paolo (see the photo from last time) have asked me to play the organ at their wedding in April. This Paolo, after constantly asking me about Australia for ages, has now started constantly asking me about religion and Jesus.
In the news
Last Saturday's copy of La Repubblica a national newspaper had a one page feature on the Bible, and especially on its distribution using new technology. Part of one of the articles said:There are many sites that offer all of the possible versions of the Bible and others, like the Online Academy of Biblical Studies (www.oabs.org) or "La Parola" (www.laparola.net), that bring together various communities of scholars and provide answers to questions of interpretation.
Not too accurate, but no advertising is bad advertising. In fact, there were about 100 visitors more than normal that day. (The daily average at my site is 500 visitors, but there are usually less on Saturdays.) Talking about a three day course organised by a lay association on An Introduction to the Bible that was attended by 180 people from all of Italy, another article said,Three days to discover the roots of a text which is fundamental in the European and Western culture, to learn to handle a book that Italians continue to ignore. But this has been known for a long time. The novelty is that from some time in Italy a new interest in the Sacred Scriptures is being manifested.
7-8/12: Church bookstall at the town market days, with lots of scripture calendars to give away. Andrea, Jury and Carmelo are organising this. 15/12: Mario, one of the people in the church, has a collection of old prints of Biblical subjects, and in mid November organised (with Renzo and Andrea) an exhibition of these prints in a small town just outside Trento. It went so well, that he has organised another exhibition in the centre of Trento for the 15th. As well as having the prints displayed, he talks with all the visitors and gives them calendars and other Christian literature.