Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Pizza, grassy parks, cappuccino, sweaty campers, Nutella, Roman streets..... All these conjure up memories of smells from our 2 weeks in Italy. Yet the most lingering fragrance is of the people we met and partnered with for the Gospel, from whom we sadly parted. They remain in Italy, joyfully proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus to many Italians, each one opening up his or her life to love, encourage and give hope to lives without true purpose. I think of Mark and Ruth, passionate about the people in Bologna, trained and ready at every turn to connect with people, care for them and share the truth of the Gospel with them. They follow the lead of Mark’s parents, Andy and Linda, who continue to shepherd the flock given to them by the Lord and who minister to all in their sphere, even in the midst of personal difficulty. An inspiration to me is Ester, whose deep love for teens and desire to share her relationship with Christ with them, keeps her eyes on an eternal goal, gives her creativity in vision and helps her to persevere with joy. I think of Stefano and Jenny and Juan Luca and his wife, leading their churches with God’s word at the center and with His direction. And there are Jean-Paul and Sue, strategic and compassionate in mentoring and teaching and moving forward to plant a church in Bologna Center. Jean-Claude and Licia, my dear friends from Florence, who followed the Lord’s leading to minister to married couples and families, struggling within the church. They give godly, Biblical wisdom and counsel to heal the brokenness within. And I remember the passion and energy and hope of Giovanna, Elena, Giacoma and Linda, young women mentored by Ester, who step forward in faith to open themselves up to a life of ministering in Christ’s name. These beautiful servants of Christ, united in their love for Him, persevere with joy and gladness and leave with me the true sweet perfume of Italy.