Newsletter 47 - November 2003
In the church
The new cell groups at Trento continue to be a big success, at least in incorporating peripheral people in the church and people who are new to the church. All three of the groups have grown since we started them a couple of months ago. When I wrote my last newsletter I said that two thirds of the people at Trento had signed up for a group; the figure is now that three quarters belong to one of the three groups. This still leaves eight people not in a group, whom I would like to see join one of them. On the day that I was making these calculations for a review of the cell groups by the church, I also sorted out some photos and came across one that I had taken exactly a year ago of the group in the Valsugana valley, just after we had decided to pray for one new person in the group in the following year, maybe even someone that would become a Christian. In that photo there were two couples (Massimo and Ester, Jury and Gloria); with me who took the photo there were five of us in the group. So what has happened in the year since we prayed in that way? Two people have become Christians, a non Christian is coming to the group, a couple in the church moved from Trento to the valley, someone who was peripheral became more regular in the church and started attending the group, and one of the people in the church from Trento, who can not attend the other groups because of work, comes to the Valsugana group with me. So now there are 12 in the group. This is starting to put a bit of pressure on Massimo and Ester's lounge room, but fortunately they are about to knock down a wall, so shortly will have room to have 25 people meet in their house. So pray with us that the group more than doubles once again in the next 12 months!
So the cell groups are going well in achieving the aims of drawing people into the life of the church, and having more people read the Bible and pray together. There has also been some progress made in the other aims, such as using them for evangelism and for training new leaders, but now that a solid base has been laid in the groups, and the group members are thinking about inviting new people from the church, I want to concentrate more in the next few months on these other purposes of the groups.
In my previous newsletter I mentioned a couple of events to pray for. The first was the service for Reformation Sunday, for which we filled a public hall with about 70 people – a bit more than half from the church, the rest visitors from the German speaking part of Italy and from the Italian Evangelical Alliance. It was a good opportunity to remember the faithfulness of God over the centuries, and those of the Evangelical Alliance were particularly happy to be able to preach on Reformation Sunday in the city of the council of the counterreformation.
In the third week of November there was a conference organised by ECM-Italia on the use of media to plant churches, during which I helped a bit, and more afterwards as I need to write up the report of the conference. This was the third such conference, and further progress was made in defining and doing exactly what is needed to better use the media to further the kingdom of God here. It is now up to an ongoing committee to try to put into practice what the conference attendees had decided was best to do. Johan Lukasse – one of the speakers and one of the major experts on church planting in Europe – then came back to Trento with me, came to the Valsugana group, met some of church leaders from German speaking Italy at a prayer meeting we regularly hold together, and spoke at a seminar in church. The feedback I have had from the church members is that his time at Trento was helpful in getting them to think about how better to reach out in our province, in evangelism and to plant new churches, and especially how to use the new cell groups.
In the family
Thank you for praying for a regular job for Pinuccia – the day after I sent my previous newsletter with that request she got called to a school, and in the six weeks since then she has only gone one day without work. The jobs are always for two to five days at a time, and can be at anytime of the day, which makes it difficult to plan things together and means she has had to miss a few of her English lessons, but we are thankful for what she has. Her English continues to improve – recently she started meeting once a week with Anna, an English lady in the church who arrived at Trento about six months ago to teach English, for conversation exchange and reciprocal lessons, and having some private tuition from a professional English teacher is helping a lot.
Over the new year we will be going to Sicily together for a fortnight, which will include the final preparations there for the wedding. When we will return we will start seriously looking for an apartment (since we would like to find one available from March, and it is too early too look for such apartments at the moment), and then do a seven week marriage preparation course.
Something that I have found enjoyable and useful lately is visiting other people with Pinuccia, or inviting others to meals with her or going to her house when she invites others. We have not done it often, still living in different houses and having separate lives, but these visits and meals have gone much better than if we had done them individually. She really is a suitable helper for me (as I hope to be for her as well).