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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

UPDATE JUNE 2004

This month has been rich in cooperation!

Annual Women's Convention. At Velletri, south of Rome, Enid participated with more than 40 ladies who met for mutual encouragement. She enjoyed very much their warm fellowship. These godly sisters dealt with some heavy problems, including how to deal with some so-called "Christian" women who insist on continuing their "live-in" relationship. This convention centered on the gifts that God has given in the areas of giving, exhortation, administration, and mercy. The women seem to be growing in their ability to help each other in their local churches, and more open to examining their own problems. They also purchased a number of our Bible study books and tracts.

Two interns in one month: Micah Baird. While studying art in Italy, Micah is seeking to learn how he can utilize his gifts in the Lord?s service here. We took him to hear Team Expansion leaders describe their approach in Ancona, then we described our work in Matelica, before he went on to Ciampino to visit the work of Andrea and Heather Gentile. In collaboration with Rob Harris, we are hosting another intern, Jerrod Sharp, who comes to us from Lincoln Christian College. Shortly after arriving in Italy, he assembled booklets and worked on the computer music program for Enid?s hymnbook. His first assignment is to take a full immersion crash course in the Italian language at Perugia. Then he can help Harold prepare study books in Italian.

Fowlers work at Ancona too. In close collaboration with missionaries Matt and Angie Crosser, and Jason and Heather Casey, Harold is teaching monthly Bible studies to the Ancona leaders. The main thrust is to equip them by concentrated study of 1 Corinthians, to lead their "Life-Group" cell-groups. Our Matelica group furnished an Italian family to bless and strengthen their efforts at Ancona.

Ever been bothered in church by Jehovah?s Witnesses? Members of our Matelica congregation, plagued by that sect, began asking for Bible teaching on what we call "the Trinity", so Harold presented this study in several weeks of teaching. It seemed satisfying, because it gradually became clear to them how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all participate in our salvation and sanctification.

And wouldn?t you know it? Our people requested this Trinity study just weeks before a Jehovah's Witness hit team rolled into church. A man and his girlfriend showed up for worship and Bible study for a couple of weeks before revealing their religious identity. Then, because Harold was teaching on the Trinity, the man opened up full force with 100% pure Watchtower doctrine! This deceiver denied they were Jehovah's Witnesses, but everything he said, Harold has been reading in Watchtower publications for 40 years. After several vigorous discussions, the JW gave up his attempt to take over and stopped attending our meetings. However, it was invigorating to see how our God organized our church's preparation just before these attacks, in view of countering them from a position of strength!

Pray for our men. We continue to encounter problems that have blocked spiritual growth in our Christian men. These are long-standing issues that rarely surface in their true form, and they defy solution. Nevertheless, the Lord is greater than everyone?s hearts, and we ask you to join with us in praying for their resolution with deeply spiritual methods and results. Without divulging any private information, we are free to say that these are "normal" problems deeply embedded in Italian society, but they require radical surgery by the Holy Spirit. Pray that these men may reflect the glory of Christ!