Friday, April 22, 2011

Some Good News on this Good Friday

As of this morning because of some great help from Mike Davis and Rich Burrill (ReachGlobal Guys in CA) and of course a lot of prayers it looks like I already have 3 churches willing to open up their doors to me while I am back in California!!!  This is a huge blessing and a great piece of Good News!  Rejoice with me!

In other news tonight our Home Group will be celebrating a Seder Meal .  We have been studying God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and it being Holy Week and all seemed like a natural way to celebrate God's faithfulness.

I have a bunch of friends coming over to celebrate Easter with me on Sunday!  (Going out to look for a Ham today, wish me luck.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2:40 am

There are somethings I wish Young Life and Youth Ministry had not prepared me for, like for example chatting with prostitutes on the streets.  It is 2:40 am and I just got home from handing out Easter candies and Easter cards to the girls working the streets on the outskirts of the Eternal City.  I am gonna be completely honest with you and say I was super nervous about this new venture.  Sure I went to the Human Trafficking Conference and I have read articles and watched films, but going out for the first time to actually have conversations with prostitutes is a bit unnerving.

Just 4 of us went, and we spent time in prayer before, during and after.  I went assuming, even though I had been informed at the conference otherwise that these would be women, that they would be tough and stand offish, I was wrong.  Friends these were girls.  These were girls I would place between 14 and 20 years of age.  These were kind and gentle teens, excited for the chocolates and even for the invitations to church for Easter.  These were someones kids, many of whom had an understanding of church from some part of their life.

And after talking to the first two girls I recognized that this was in fact no different than the first time I went to the SLV High School campus.  It was just as intimidating and then all of the sudden it wasn't.  These teens were no different other than the fact that they are working the streets of Rome.  They were smiling and chatting and dancing. 

I never in all my times at the High School campus imagined that God was preparing me to chat up prostitutes in Italy, but it seems God never lets anything go to waste.  This was only our first encounter with these girls, and I ask you to begin now to pray for these 18 gals that we had the opportunity to talk to, that God would continue to show us how to build relationships and that He would draw them to Himself.  The 18 that we met with are only the tip of the iceberg here in Rome, so you can pray that we might find ways to be a blessing to more and more girls.  Pray for these girls; for their safety, for peace and for them to come to know that their is a God who created them in His image who loves the with a true love that they might not even believe exists.  And this may be harder but pray also for the men who are soliciting these gals that they might no longer desire them, but instead have a deep desire for God.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sickness, Sadness, and Despair...People Dying Everywhere...Happy Birthday

"Sickness,Sadness, and Despair...People Dying Everywhere...Happy Birthday...Happy Birthday"

These are the uplifting lyrics that I remember my dad chanting now and then to celebrate someone's life.  They also happen to be the words that sum up the last few weeks here in Rome.

As it turns out I am sick a lot here, whether that is from living in a new place with new germs, or the fact that it is a city with 4.5 Million people most of them using public transportation and not using good practices such as hand washing and covering your mouth or perhaps it is that some kids I am helping with English happen to attend schools and bring home with them every little bug that is floating around including the flu, pink eye and chicken pox all in the last few weeks.  Whatever the cause here in Rome I find that I am constantly in need of a tissue and a cough drop.  Which yesterday at the park came in handy as a mom there also was in need of a tissue for her little girl and I was able to reach in my Mary Poppins bag of tricks and come to her little girls rescue. 

If you read my latest news letter you know I am sad to be leaving here in just 20 days.  But you may not realize that I am not the only one who is sad, many of my faithful supporters have written to express their sadness and even frustration on my behalf.  And my team is sad along with me that I will miss the arrival of our newest team members and these next 3 months of ministry here. 

My sadness is not just sadness, in many respects it is despair for the people here.  Many of my close friends are in a world of hurt right now, and it is breaking my heart.  Pray with me for them.  Without giving away private information you can know that I have friends with marriages that are on the verge of collapse, friends who are in the midst of difficult pregnancies, those who have been without work or working without pay for months,  many friends who have parents and loved ones with serious illnesses, friends who need homes, documents, and most of all a lot of friends who need the peace that only God can provide.

And, yes there are people dying everywhere.  Of course there always are.  But last week I was invited to my first Italian funeral, one of my friends lost his Grandma and invited those of us in our Bible Study to attend.  It was an honor to be there for him, and also to be introduced to his family.  Later that same day as I was walking not far from my neighborhood I came across my second encounter with death for the day.  There in the middle of the sidewalk lay a man dead.  There surrounded by Italians but completely alone lie a man I would guess in his late fifties.  This image has stuck with me for over a week now, reminding me of the urgency of spreading the Gospel, because no one knows the day or the hour.

This has also been a season of Birthdays.  I have had at least one if not 2 or 3 Birthdays to celebrate every week for the past month.  It is encouraging to know that I have made so many friendships.  And I am thankful for each new friendship that God provides!  What a blessing to be included in the celebrations of these lives.