Newsletter 35a - December 2000
When I was at Perugia in July for the summer evangelism team, there was an afternoon to talk to the team about the GBU in Italy, and to pray for it. When I talked about Trento, I mentioned that once again there was no-one else in the group, and that I was praying for one other person to read the Bible with at the university - an annual summer prayer point for me, and one that so far God has always granted. So I was praying for one student, although I told them that they could exaggerate if they wanted to and pray for two others. It is now a few months later, well into the academic year, and for a few weeks I have been meeting at the university not with one other person, not with two, but with three. It is three and a half years since there have been four people in the group. There is Markus, the German exchange student who I mentioned last time. Then Eleanor, a Scottish lady that teaches English at the university and that has been attending the church for almost a year, said she would come along. And not only did she come, she brought her niece (Jacqueline) with her - it is good to have one Italian student in the group! We are reading Ecclesiastes at the moment, and everyone is enjoying reading the Bible together, and learning about our priorities in life before God. In fact, Jacqueline was so happy to find other people to read the Bible with at the university, that in the first meeting she came to she started crying when we prayed together at the end. So please pray for this group, that we can help each other be better disciples of Jesus. And why not, pray that even a fifth person will start to come to the Bible studies! And don’t forget to pray for the preparations for the mini-mission that we will hold in the first week of March. There are five people from other GBU groups that have expressed an interest in coming to help us, although there could be others as well. As I said last time, if you would like to contribute financially to a fund to help the students come here, you can send a gift to European Christian Mission (PO Box 15, Croydon NSW 2132), indicating that it is for the Trento Mission, and they will send it on to me.
Last weekend there was a GBU training weekend for student leaders - the first time we have done this. Unfortunately, due to a clash with the church bookstall, I was only able to attend for one day, but it seemed to have been helpful for the students. There were also two students from each of Messina and Bari; in both cities there are some people looking into forming GBU groups at the universities there. Since only 11 of the 44 university cities in Italy have GBU groups, naturally it is always good to see the Christian students in other cities come together with the desire to talk with their fellow students about Jesus.
Leaving the training weekend early, I got back to Trento to help out at least for the second day of the bookstall at the town market day. Unfortunately, we were not able to concentrate on the Muslims and other foreigners, as I said in my last newsletter, because for various reasons the people necessary were not able to participate. We will probably do it instead at the second bookstall of the year, in March. But we were able to distribute about 500 Bible calendars to people that asked for them, including to many that searched us out, having received one last year and wanting another for next year. Pray that all the Bible verses read will have an effect on these people.
One unexpected surprise was, during my shift at the stall, seeing Paolo and Joana on the other side of the street. They were only at Trento for a few hours, during a week of holidays in Italy, and were about to meet up with Maurizio, and it just ‘happened’ that it was while I was at the stall. (Paolo and Maurizio, for those who don’t remember, were part - the pillars in fact - of the GBU group for four years; the last time I saw them was over a year ago when I went to Portugal for Paolo and Joana’s wedding.) Although I do hear from them occasionally by e-mail, it is not the same as being able to catch up with them face to face. I was glad to hear from them how they are all growing in their walk with God.
My main activity of the past couple of months, though, has been doing five Bible studies a week - at least in theory, because for one reason or another there is also at least one that gets postponed. There are two of the church’s mid week groups (at Trento and in the Valsugana valley), the study at the university, and two individual studies with younger Christians. This has kept me fairly busy lately. So continue to pray that I will be able to faithfully and effectively teach the Word of God in these studies.
The downloading of my computer Bible to study the Bible in Italian goes ahead, even though in this period I am not doing much work on it: most of my time is spent preparing Bible studies and meeting with people in the church, and the computer work is a low priority at such times. But of course, it continues to be used anyway. Here is one message that one received last month, with a different use: "I wanted to say that I downloaded the Bible program, and that from the 13th of November it is installed on 10 computers of the Multimedia Laboratory of the school where I work: the Professional Institute per Industry and Artisans of Jesi. The teacher of religion had asked me to do it, and it was a great pleasure to be able to do it. I am helping him during the lessons to use the program (I am on the technical staff of the Laboratory). I pray from this possibility that the Lord will create interest in the Bible in the students (and in the teacher), given that only in rare occasions in Italy does one read the Bible during the hour of religion."
A final piece of news: civilisation has finally arrived at Trento. Last weekend McDonalds opened their first restaurant in the province, in a new shopping centre about 10km from Trento. In the first half of next year, a store will open at Trento as well.