War and Peace: two words that sum up a lot of what we have experienced in our first weeks in our new home.
We are at war with mosquitoes, things that crawl on the floor and fly in the air; not because we don’t necessarily like these creatures, but they have been eating our legs, arms and other parts at every opportunity. Guaranteed to keep you awake at night. They seem to have built up a natural resistance to our sprays, both the ones that are supposed to protect us and those designed to kill them.
We are most certainly at war in the spiritual realm. Spiritual warfare is something that is hard to put a finger on. It’s invisible, difficult to gauge, and hard to explain. But ask any missionary, and they will tell you – it’s very real. It’s maybe easier to tell you what it looks like on this side of the invisible. Everything you try to do, even though it should be ridiculously easy and straightforward, becomes difficult and frustrating. There is sometimes a feeling of isolation. You pray and pray, and fast and pray and sometimes get breakthroughs. Sometimes, though, you get an insight into what’s going on. Like last week.
Mrs Flour came in to chat. She said she was having a hard time. We started talking about her family relationships, one thing led to another, and before long we were talking about prayer. ‘How do you pray? Can you just talk to God? What do you say?’ We offered to pray for her there and then. ‘Do you pray out loud? Into yourself? Do you have to close your eyes?’ We prayed for her and she was visibly touched. On her way out, she said she frequented a priest who invoked many saints to deliver people, and he was a really good man. When we pray to anyone but the Father, we are praying to dead people or demons. If there is a resultant power, and an answer to this prayer, this is not from God. This is part of the background to the spiritual warfare. We believe that God has put us in this place to be a part of His rescue plan for Mrs Flour, among others.
Last Sunday we were joined by Mrs Flour and her brother and sister-in-law, who had come up to their country house (next door to us) for the weekend. We talked for a long time at a deep level about the power of forgiveness and the shackles of unforgiveness, and what we believe as evangelicals. More new relationships.
At the end of March, I preached my first sermon in Italian in a long while, using Hebrews 1:1-3 as an exposition of the Gospel. I was greatly helped by your prayers. Thankyou.
On Sunday 3rd June, the Rocca church had its first baptism, Josh’s eldest daughter, Rebecca. We were joined by Josh’s parents from Perugia, missionaries in Italy for forty-five years, another church from a neighbouring town, Forlí and by a lady called Dot, who hosts our English Bible study with her husband Dave. Dave is a believer, Dot isn’t. It was her first time in church in very many years. We believe the Lord is softening her heart. The baptism was held in a plastic paddling pool in the little patio area behind the church building – previously a shop. One lady in the neighbouring apartment was hanging out her first floor window, participating from a distance, loving it.
We have also been able to get to know some of our church people better in these two weeks and have had them at our home.
What to pray for:
- A lasting solution to our internet issues. This may sound very technological and a luxury, but the internet, or lack of it, helps us to stay in touch through WhatsApp, Facebook, email etc, Carol also needs it for her audio-typing. So the internet is essential for us; pray that we would get a lasting, effective solution.
- Mrs. Flour, her brother and sister-in-law, Dot, and the other unbelievers that we are in touch with.
- June is when the English classes begin to peter out, so that July and August could potentially be lean months. We want to live in the abundance of the Father’s provision. Pray also, to that end, that Stan will be able to get up and running with translation and that he will have success in this.
- Alberto is coming over between 16 – 26 June. Pray that we will have a great time together as he gets to see our new home.
- Pray that our next attempt to get a certificate of residence will be successful. This piece of paper should then allow us to get other documents which would result in us being able to open an Italian bank account and get registered with the Italian health care system, and eventually register our presence in Italy with the Italian authorities.
We appreciate your collaboration in our ministry, in fact, we couldn’t do it without you. So thankyou for not being like the lady on the first floor and participating from a distance. Thankyou for standing with us, together for the Kingdom and for His glory.
Stan and Carol