I’ve probably put it off long enough, talking about my trip to Italy. I’ve been home for almost a week already and am finding it hard to put into words all that happened on the trip.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’ll probably word dump here, and it might take more than one blog post.
Hang with me while I try to sort it all out, O.K.?
So why did I go to Italy of all places? First of all, why not Italy? As I wrote before I left, Italians need Jesus too, so why not? As I found out while I was there, Italians really need Jesus—a lot. As is much of Europe these days, Italy has become a post-Christian culture. Sure, many still attend the Roman Catholic church that their families have attended for generations, but I would guess that if you asked the average Italian why they attend church, if they attend at all, they would be hard-pressed to give you an answer.
“Church” is just one more cultural symbol to them. It’s just what you do on special holidays. It doesn’t have much to do with average, everyday Italian life.
We went to Italy to join with three very small Italian evangelical churches to put on a sports/English camp for Italian youth. But it was much more than that; this was also a chance to share Jesus with Italian kids. The people we worked with there have a vision to reach younger generations for Christ and to start a movement that will affect families for years to come. It makes sense, and it’s working, but the work is slow and difficult.
So what did our days look like? Each morning we would start at 8:00 a.m. with a team meeting. Mark, the missionary from our church, would read a passage from Philippians and give us encouragement for the day. Then we’d spend some time in prayer before we welcomed the kids.
The days of camp went so fast! The mornings were filled with sports and games as well as a brief time of Bible study and discussion. After lunch, we’d have English lessons for about an hour and a half, followed by a gelato break (!) and more games.
The kids were picked up at 6:00 p.m.
After that, our team would meet again for about a half an hour. Each day Mark would ask us two questions: “Where did you see Jesus today?” and “Where would you like to see Jesus show up tomorrow?” These were important questions to think about because sometimes, when the day flies by as quickly as ours did, you forget to stop and think about how the Lord is working.
And, boy, did He work!
Tomorrow I’ll share a bit about how Jesus showed up at the camp.