Newsletter 57a - September 2006
In the family
Thank you for those who prayed for suitable work for Pinuccia. The third day of school (a lot earlier than expected) she got a phone call with three job offers, and took up a part time job (three hours per day) doing the after school care in the afternoon, and which lasts until the end of December. It was just the sort of job that she was hoping for. With the travel that means she is away about four hours a day, so I look after Stefania in that period. We do the shopping together, but since she does not sleep in the afternoon any more, unlike before the summer break, most of the rest of the time I have to stay with her. Especially as she has just learnt to crawl, and has become a danger to herself and the house when left alone! She has walked (with help) since the beginning of August, and is close to learning to walk by herself. She also continues to be lopsided in her growth – she has the average height of an Italian girl four months older than her, and the average weight of one three months younger!
In the church
All of the church activities have now restarted after the summer break. The biggest change has been in the group at Rovereto, which has doubled its membership. A Brazilian family (Gershon, Maitè and children) that were missionaries in Africa moved to Italy a couple of years ago, and are working in missionary training. They live a fair distance to the south of Trento, closer to Verona in fact, but have been coming to church at Trento for about a year. The group at Rovereto is the closest to them, so they will be going to that group (when the husband isn't in Africa or Norway or some other part of the world training missionaries). In any case they are looking to move house closer to Trento soon, and maybe to Rovereto itself. Another couple from southern Italy (the first Italians!) moved to Rovereto during the summer, and will be coming as well. Pray that this renewed group will get to know and support each other quickly, so that it will be able to then reach out to be a witness and blessing to Rovereto. And that one day in the future we will see an autonomous church in that town.
We have had the first of our "cell group leaders coordination" meetings, which is the part of the leadership meetings that I will be running. I see one of my roles in this period of the life of the church to be to help it in the transition from a small church to a medium sized church, with a number of small groups working autonomously but not independently. We want to make sure that the cell groups are working with the same vision and objectives of the church, but doing it in different ways. So these meetings for coordination, communication and training will be important to keep them moving in the same direction, and so that they can help each other as they share experiences.
At the end of August, there was a mission congress organised to encourage Italians to think about going on and supporting missions. I represented European Christian Mission there. It was good to see over 300 people present, and I pray that all will think more about God's mission in the world as a result. I considered how I can encourage a missionary outlook in the church (and during the summer one of the elders thought similarly that we could do more to help mission), and so each of the cell groups this year will be supporting one missionary or mission. Pinuccia thought similarly for the Sunday School, so they will have a missionary component to their program this year as well.
On a related note, Gherson is taking a group to Senegal for most of October on a missionary trip, and Jury and Gloria from our church will be going as well. Pray that it will help their understanding of the worldwide church to grow, and that when they return they will be able to transmit what they experience learn to the rest of the church.
As is often the case in September, there has been an influx of new people to the church; pray that we can make them welcome to the church, and get them involved in the small group ministry. What is not usually the case in September is that seven Christians have arrived independently from different countries (India, Nigeria, Indonesia, …), all on scholarships to do a one year Masters course in Computer Science. They have even all been housed by the university in the same street. When I was involved in the GBU at the university I never saw more than two Christians arrive to study at the same time! None of them speak Italian (the course is in English, but next month they will be able to do an Italian course), so the church is considering how it can help them in their spiritual life and witness at the university.
Another newcomer is an Argentian (but with grandparents from Trentino) lady with her 16 year son. He would like to be involved in the teenagers' group, so hopefully he will be able to start coming soon. The problem is getting him from his home on the other side of Trento to our house for the meeting, and then back again. The only male in the group at the moment (who is the same age) is overjoyed, that he will no longer be by himself amongst a few girls.
Another group that is forming is a number of late teen and early 20s males – Gherson's sons, two children of one of the church members that have restarted to attend after a period in which they did not come, and the son of a lady who started coming a few months ago. There are practical problems in getting them all together, and also a lack of resources to lead such a group. Even though such a group is very important at that age.
Thinking about it, I guess this last case illustrates the two biggest challenges that the church is facing. The first is that the people in the church are spread out all over the province (and beyond), at times over an hour by car from Trento. This is why we would like to and are praying to plant new churches in other towns in the province. The second is that the church is growing faster than our leadership resources and training can cope with. That is why I am staying here still, to try to create, with God's help, more mature Christians in the congregation that can then disciple and train others, and to help them plant new churches.