It’s early Sunday morning. It looks like another lazy summer day here at the gates of Perugia. It’s so quiet I hear a dove coo, and then flutter away.
I couldn’t think of a more peaceful start to my day. The sun is rising over the steeples, I hear a bell in the distance marking the time.
But all is not peace.
The people of Perugia are on the verge of stepping into a Christless eternity.
As most people around the world, the people of Perugia seek to ignore the signals of their demise. Perugia is full of wonderful little town festivals during the summer, with the best local food you can imagine and plenty of folk dancing. It’s enough to temporarily drown out their sorrows for a life without hope and without God.
But tomorrow morning they will wake up and the burden is still there.
- Their soccer gods failed them completely during the World cup, ranking one of the worst teams of the tournament.
- The economy gives them no hope, with an all-time record unemployment.
- Their religion gives them no hope and no certainty.
In fact, the word hope itself in the Italian language speaks of uncertainty, not of certainty.
As I talked last week with Maria, a very catholic woman, I saw how proud she was of the humility demonstrated by her favorite friar because he told his flock that he doesn’t know where he is going when he dies and he needs their prayers to move him toward heaven.
As I think of what Maria told me, there is turmoil in my heart as well.
How do we reach the thousands of damned souls, even within eyesight of my balcony, with the message of hope that only Christ’s atonement can give?
There is hope, and there is certainty. That hope is in Christ, that certainty is in Jesus, and nobody else.
And God is certainly at work in Perugia, Italy.
We have seen several new doors open to the Gospel within the last month:
“So what can I do?” I can almost hear your voice echo in my ears…
When we are overwhelmed, when we are weary, when we are confused by all the opportunities coming our way, there is nothing more vital than the prayers of God’s people uplifting us, providentially moving the Spirit to accomplish His work through His unworthy, ineffective servants.
- Pray for the people who we are reaching out to with the hope of the Gospel.
Pray for Claudio, my dear brother who has accompanied me to most of my oncologist visits to Milan, broke his femur, had an embolism in his lung and had to be put on oxygen. Praise the Lord, because after a near death encounter, he is making a comeback. Most of all, pray for his wife Donatella , who has been able to share the Gospel with many people in the hospital.
- Pray for the work in Spoleto, which is only a little more than a dream at this point. Christine and Maddie, Romanian women living in Spoleto, an hour away, have come to faith and have asked us for help because they do not have an evangelical church in their area. My Dad and Giuseppe have been going to Spoleto every Thursday to minister in the high security prison there, so they were able to meet with these women as well. It reminds me so much of Acts 16, when Paul received the “Macedonian call”. In Philippi it was first of all through Lydia, a godly foreign woman, that Paul’s ministry in Europe began.
- Pray for the nomination and training of deacons at the Centro Evangelico Battista.
- Pray for the training of Italian pastors, Sunday School teachers, worship leaders and families.
- Pray for my uncertain health. My health is stable at the moment, but not progressing.
- Pray for our uncertain residence permits. We applied for a permanent residence for Melodee, but unless God intervenes, it will probably be rejected.
- Pray for more workers in the harvest and the ability for new missionaries to reside here legally.
- Pray for boldness in sharing the Gospel in our families, with our neighbors, friends, countrymen (I hear a slight echo of Shakespeare in this statement).
- Pray for good management of our time, ministries, money, health, spiritual health.
Pray most of all that Italians will give up their false sense of security in exchange for the peace that only God can give.
If you have prayed for these few things, you have done more than we could ask for and we can only thank you and praise God because His answer is sure to come.