Archive for March, 2013

New services

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, for Good Friday, there was something new in the church – our first Pakistani/Indian service. This came about through the Pakistani pastor that God sent to Trento as he fled from persecution, as he has been making contacts with the immigrants not only at Trento but also in other parts of Italy. So there were about 45 Asians at the service, from Trento and elsewhere, as well a number of church members who wanted to participate. This sort of ministry was certainly not in our vision a year ago, nor how we thought that the new premises would be used when we decided to start renting it, but it is exciting to see how God leads us and uses us if we make everything – including ourselves – available to him.

Pakistani/Indian service

Pakistani/Indian service

Witnessing

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

There were two important meetings in the church this week, although I had to miss both of them. The first was whilst I was returning from my mission meetings in Spain, namely a public meeting on religious freedom in Pakistan. A Pakistani pastor who now lives in Italy was the main speaker, together with representatives from the Catholic Church and the Province. A few people not from the church came, including five Muslim Pakistani students who contested the stories told by the pastor, as if they were not true. They created a bit of tension and fear, as they took notes on what was said, but the pastor continued anyway. As you probably know, there was another serious case of persecution of the Christians in Pakistan a couple of days ago, which upset the pastor and his family. So there was also an opportunity to manifest our fellowship with the persecuted church through the encouragement and support of this family.

Ladies' meeting

Ladies' meeting

I could not go to the second meeting as I was not invited – it was for females only. It was an opportunity to witness to many of the church members’ friends, as three ladies spoke on anxiety and worry, including the wife of the Pakistani pastor. It was good to be able to use our hall for such activities, that we could not do in the past. Pray that they will help our continuing witness, both in the public sphere and towards our individual friends.

Not a coincidence

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Last week, I had a message forwarded to me from someone who runs another Italian site on the Bible, who had received a message with questions he could not answer, on the parsing of a Greek word and the possibility of having Italian or Spanish commentaries on his Windows Phone. Over the next few days, after I replied to the questions, the person sent me some other messages with further questions. On Sunday afternoon I went to Madrid for some meetings with the mission, and to avoid getting hit with a backlog when I return I try to reply to as many e-mails as I can whilst away – although replying did mean I got even more messages from this person to reply to. On Wednesday evening he sent a message to thank me for my answers, and said that if I ever need help he was available at Madrid. So I mentioned that I was actually at Madrid as well at that moment, but leaving the next day. He replied that he was keen to meet me. Usually it would not have been possible, as I catch the first flight out in the morning after such meetings. But due to a strike my plane had been cancelled, and I had instead a 4pm plane. So we met at the airport to talk for a couple of hours. As always with my Internet contacts, I had no idea who he was or what he was like, just a name and an e-mail address. But he turned out to be a “kindred spirit” in many ways, with a number of common friends in the Italian evangelical church.

Why did I title this Not a coincidence, when it seems to be? Because my impression was that the meeting was too impossible to be a coincidence. I was passed Achille’s message from somebody else, just before I was due to go to Madrid. In a decade of receiving e-mail inquiries, maybe a handful of times has someone mentioned in passing where they were living. Usually when I am away for meetings, I have no free time to meet other people, but just go airport-highway-office, where I sit for three days, before going as soon as possible back to the airport. But this time the strike gave me a bit of extra time. So I am sure God had a reason for bringing us together. From talking with him, I found that there are some ways that I can help him in the way he wants to serve God. Whether this is God’s reason, I do not know yet, but I will find out as I follow the way God leads us both in this.

Warming up

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

We are starting to warm up now, not only with the temperature but also in the life of the church, as we move into our typically most active period. March arrived, and suddenly lots of events are organised. Yesterday (Friday) we had a planning meeting for the children’s camp in June, from which I went straight to band practice. Today there was one of the monthly training days organised by the young adults, but which many from the church went to, on Biblical counselling. Tomorrow is the monthly church lunch, which I will miss because immediately after the service I will catch the train to Milan, and from there the plane to Madrid, where I will be for meetings for the mission until Thursday. Pray for the family that will have to try to juggle the various commitments without me. In the meantime, on Thursday afternoon there will be a public meeting on religious freedom, in which the main speaker will be a Pakistani pastor who fled the country 18 months ago due to various threats, ended up at Trento, where who was granted asylum and recently joined by his family. Play for a good witness by him as he shares his story! On Friday there is the monthly meeting for the whole church, where we will be praying together, and on Saturday an evangelistic meeting organised by the ladies for their friends. Pray also for this opportunity.