Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bologna, Italy day 5 and 6

Yesterday was pretty hectic, and so was today, so I am just getting around to posting the blog.  Yesterday morning we went with David to a local cafe and met with Fabio.  Fabio is an Italian believer from a Catholic background.  He came to faith in Jesus after he felt something was missing from his life.  He had been reading books important to Italian culture and asked himself, "why don't I read the Bible?"  Through reading the Bible he came to know that there was more than what he had experienced.  Through God's blessing and timing a missionary family came who had a son Fabio's age.  They began playing Basket Ball together, and through there conversations Fabio grew in his conviction and faith for Jesus.  Some time later he realized that he really needed someone to help him grow.  He called his old Basket Ball friend up to ask if he knew anybody.  With only a few degrees of separation, that conversation led him to David Hannah.  Fabio has been attending the Bible study that David and Nicole host.  For David, Fabio is the dream.  That is, he is Italian!  He knows the language, the culture, the heritage, and the history of The Italian people.  So he is much better suited to reach people.  David has been disciplining him since September.  Helping him grow in his faith and encouraging him to reach out to those around him.  It was really awesome to meet with Fabio, hear his testimony and see how God is moving.

We then took time to do some Soularium training.  Soularium is a tool used by CRU (aka. Agape in Europe).  It is primarily a means to engage people and get them thinking about life and spirituality.  It is a series of five questions about life, God and spirituality that the participant is asked to answer using one to three of the fifty images that are on cards.  The conversations that happen around these cards, if nothing else, gets people to think about things that they wouldn't normally think about.  But it also fosters opportunities for relationships to develop and even deeper conversations.  After our crash course in Soularium we headed toward campus.  Matt, an intern here in Italy with CRU, helped us get our feet wet and very shortly after we had set up the board with all of the cards we had people showing interest and engaging with us.  It was very interesting to see the wide range of pictures that would be chosen for each question and the reasons given for the choice.  One of the persons we had an opportunity to speak with was a you woman who spoke pretty good English, which she had learned entirely through movies and television.  She spent some time answering the questions and talking with Alissa and I as Matt was working with some Italians who didn't speak English.  Who knows what will come out of that conversation, but she had stated that she handed thought about religion since she was 18, but now she is.

Matt going over the finer points of Soularium with Forrest and Kim

It has been hot here, the whole time we have been here.  There are few places with air-conditioning for any relief so David said that we would only stay out in the heat for a few hours.  We also rotated.  We finished up about mid afternoon when things really die down for "the pause," which is a period of about two hours when stores and shops close down to head home for a nap or break.  So we headed in.  That night the team decided to take David an Nicole out to a nice meal.  They have been preparing for there return to the US for  furlough so we hadn't had a whole lot of time to just fellowship with them and hear what the last year had been like for their ministry.

Forrest and Alissa doing Soularium with an Italian art student while
Kim plays with Shine, the young ladies dog.

This morning we got up and David took us down to the University district where we set up the Soularium board once again, but this time it was just us.  David headed off to take care of some last minute business, and we paired off.  One group did Soularium while the other group headed off to do some prayer walking around the campus.  During this time Alissa and I had a really great conversations with a young girl who was Catholic.  Her answers to the questions seemed to suggest that she would be a really fertile soil for the Gospel.  She seemed to have really thought about things and was seeking things that Jesus could really answer in her life.  We invited her to the Tex-Mex dinner that was tonight and got here contact information to pass on to the Hannah's and CRU.  We then switched and as Alissa and I went prayer walking Kim and Matthew had there own great encounter with a young man who said he was an atheist, but was really seeking.  They talked with him for a while and invited him along as well.  Soularium gave us an opportunity to be on campus and see a small part of how some of the ministries look here in Bologna.

After that it was time for some packing and a last swing by a couple of places to get some stuff for friends and prayer partners back home.  We then headed to Nuova Vita to set up for the Tex-Mex dinner party.  This was a CRU thing that they do at the end of their six week summer project.  It is an opportunity to meet bring the people that they have been developing relationships together and solidify those bonds.  Our role was primarily to help set up and to interact with people touched by these ministries.
I can tell you.  It is night and day between the last time that I was here and now.  It was rare for us to be out with David and him not run into someone he knew from the university or the community.  There have been people come to a faith in Christ, ministries have begun and lives are being changed.  It has been really encouraging to here stories of how God has moved in ways that no person can claim credit for.  He is an Awesome God!
David and Matt "manning" the grills

Meet and Greet

Madison, here with the CRU summer project teaches 
some Italians how to Line Dance

As i wright this it is nearing midnight in Bologna.  We have to be on our plane in about six and a half hours.  But think all of us can say, even me who was here last year, that the same people are not coming back to Nashville.  We have been challenged, encouraged and convicted by our experience here.  There is so much to pray for, so many people to lift up, so much work to be done.  It is a good thing that we serve a Big, Big God.

God Bless!



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