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Weathering The Storm Together

06.16.20
by Vincent; Missionary in Italy
in Church Planting, Italy, Stories
"It is always so good to listen to the message; it does good to the heart and the mind. It touches me deeply; it is as if God tells me: “I am here, I didn’t forget you, listen!"

    Several years ago, a lady phoned, “The people in Burano receive a nice calendar every year. What about us in Sant’Erasmo? Why are we neglected?” Roberta and I gladly made the one-hour trip from Pre-ganziol to the seaport and boarded the ferry for Sant’Erasmo.  
     Anna wasn’t home, so we left a calendar in her mailbox and distributed 50 calendars in her neighborhood. Two weeks later we returned with several boxes of calendars for the rest of the island, and our first stop was at Anna’s house, who welcomed us with open arms. As she was preparing an espresso, I asked her how she got our phone number. She replied. “Preganziol!” “What about Preganziol?” I asked. She replied: “My daughter Monika used to work in a hair salon in that town.” Roberta and I looked at each other! Our son Jonathan and I used to go to the very salon where Monika used to cut our hair. Every year I would give a calendar to all the hairdressers; Monika always asked for an extra copy for her mom.
     The visit to Anna’s house has become a yearly appointment. She always gives us a small bag of “Bussolai”, typical Venetian cookies and a small gift to help with the expenses. Thanks to Anna, we got the vision to bring a scripture calendar to all the people of Sant’Erasmo. We were not able to go to the island before the end of 2019.
     Finally, the last week of February, Anna Rita, Giusy and I went there with several boxes of calendars. The people were eagerly waiting for us and thank-fully received the precious gift. Rose saw us from her balcony, came down quickly and said: “I was waiting for you. I knew you had not forgotten us!" She gave us 10 Euros, which was the exact amount for the parking fee. The lady lit up when she saw us, “Thank you so much! Without the calendar I find it difficult to go on!” A week later the Covid-19 crisis hit. Thankfully, we got the crop in just in time.

     Prior to the COVID-19 crisis we were using scripture calendars to encourage others, but God continues to provide opportunity to share of the good news of the gospel, even in the crisis.
     Italy was one of the first nations to be hit by the pandemic. As the quarantine kicked in, our concern was to minister to the believers of the Treviso church and reassure them that God was totally in charge, regardless. The first Sunday we sent the script of my sermon to the church.
     In March we began to send an audio recording of the sermon, not only to our church family, but also to all our contacts and friends who live in various parts Italy. The response has been just amazing: “Thank you for the weekly Sunday message. It blesses us and makes us feel less lonely, which is priceless”.  “It is always so good to listen to the message; it does good to the heart and the mind. It touches me deeply; it is as if God tells me: “I am here, I didn’t forget you, listen”! “It’s like receiving a very precious gift; I have listened to it with attention and gratitude.” Thank you, it was so good to receive the sermon. May we pass it on to some of our friends”?  “Roberta, thank you for the meditations; if you have others, please send them; does me good to listen. I also read the Scripture calendar that you sent me.”  
     Since the first Sunday of April our church has been meeting via Zoom, but we still record and sent the sermon to “the congregation at large”, as so many have expressed the desire to continue receiving them, even after Covid-19. We are so thankful to the Lord for opening such unprecedented opportunity to share the Good News. Before the pandemic it had not even crossed our mind to send audio messages to our friends and contacts, most of whom hardly attend church. Please pray that the Word of God would take root in many hearts now, and for eternity.

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