Our biggest news is that we joined the church! “But,” you ask, “shouldn’t missionaries already be in the church?” Well, since moving to this southern area to share the Good News, we’ve been without a church family.
We knew this work would go slowly. People here are often suspicious in general, and especially of anything non-Catholic. And the mountain villagers most of all.
So yes, we knew it would be slow, though not quite this slow. And people often ask, “Aren’t you discouraged?” Our answer is, “Yes, and no.” We get discouraged when we see people around us dying without Christ. And facing life’s difficulties without the Lord’s marvelous help. And discouraged because when we share our faith they say, “That’s nice,” but are too afraid to grab hold it for themselves. But our past 20 years have been great preparation for just a time as this.
But anyway, these two missionaries finally joined the church!
We often visited this church (where Hubby already preached some), in a larger town about 45 minutes away, in-between travels. It’s a vibrant, growing church, with a good mix of older and younger people. The pastors do a great job. And we’re pleased they accepted us as members.
It’s a new experience for us to simply be church members. We’ve almost always held some leadership role in our years here. But all we want to do is serve, and we pray the Lord will help us both serve and encourage our new family.
News from the Northern Church
We made at least 3 trips up there since our last news update. First for the baptisms of several youth, including our two oldest granddaughters!! What a joyous day. No photos though, as I was hobbling on crutches, and Hubby was helping with the baptisms.
Then we went to help ordain church elders. What an encouragement to see this couple growing strong in the Lord. And what a blessing they are to the church! Please keep them in your prayers.
We no longer hold church meetings at the camp, as we decided it was better to bring them to church with us. They need the exposure to Italians and the Italian language. Please pray with us that they will feel welcome and manage to fit in.
The sad story of one refugee.
Ill-prepared to live away from home or handle funds, he got drunk and violent. And as it was 2nd offence, they thew him out. Leaving him on the street with no documents and little money.
He called us for help late at night. Too late to find a place for him, so we bought him a hamburger and fries, then brought him home to sleep.
Many said we were crazy to do so; that it lacked wisdom. But it was below freezing out. And all we could think was, “What would Jesus do?” So we set up a camp cot (image below) for him in the dining room, closer to the pellet stove, as he was frozen through.
He was scared and worried, but we yelled at him anyway, hoping to keep him stop doing more stupid things. He seemed to think that little cot was a luxury bed, and was ever so grateful.
But we couldn’t keep him here, and needed to get him where where he would receive better help. To make a long story short, we sent him to Naples, where he contacted the Catholic relief aid. Thankfully, he got in with a good priest (also a lawyer!) who found him a place to sleep. If all goes well, should get a 6-month document soon.
The needs among the refugees are so great. But the authorities don’t really like us helping them.
When unsure what to do about Joseph, Hubby took him to the police who handle immigration issues. They wanted to arrest Joseph, but didn’t because Hubby has done interpretation work for them. But they did tell him to stop helping illegal immigrants or he could get arrested.
“Arrest me then,” my husband said. “Because I will open my door in help to all who ask.” We can’t leave anyone to freeze to death or send them away hungry. If feeding and helping others is a crime, then we are guilty. And we will continue.
Our Summer Base:
Due to lack of time and lack of a heating system, we haven’t been there in a while. But the folks are on our hearts and minds. We hope to go around Easter time.
Please keep us and the people we serve in prayer. And remember that all special to us. We appreciate the words of encouragement, the giving, and most of all the constant prayer. We couldn’t do with out it, and you are very much a part of anything we do here!
Love in Christ from Italy,
Mario & Sheila
[Images are our own.]