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Friday, July 01, 2005

UPDATE JULY 2005

Convention at Torre dell'Orso. 100+ Christians gathered in south Italy for the annual convention sponsored by the Restoration Workshop magazine, published by Pino Neglia, preacher of the Lecce congregation. Jesus taught many things while sharing a meal with someone. Our speakers brought thoughtful messages on "Jesus' Table Conversations." At the meals, we made use of Jesus' method, to encourage disheartened believers. Besides preaching, Harold talked with a declared atheist and a skeptic, who sensing our love attended the convention... anyway! Enid distributed 72 books and pamphlets, to broaden Christian workers' Scriptural knowledge in that area of Italy.

Our convention site has the equivalent of two separate motels, two restaurants, a swimming pool, a tennis court, etc., and is close to the Mediterranean Sea. We are especially grateful for the off-season rates they give us. However, there were enough sessions, extra meetings and vital conversations to keep us from having much time to relax. Next time, we may stay a few days to rest up.

Counseling about Church Problems. After the convention, Antonio and Enza Ligorio opened their home to us in Latiano for several days. So leaders of the Latiano church invited Harold to teach at their weekly Bible study with brethren present from three towns! We saw lots of old friends that we hadn't seen for at least 15 years.

Dinner under the stars. One evening we went to Mesagne for an outside dinner with about 25 Christian friends. This typical southern Italian meal started about 8:00 pm, so it was nearly 1:00 am when we got to bed. The fatigue of such schedules is far less important than the private counseling about church problems in which we were able to participate.

Pray for our Residence Papers. Our permission to stay in Italy has just expired, so we have begun the paperwork to get a permanent residence permit to end the hassle of short-term permits. The local police interpretation of the new European laws excludes our qualification as "religious workers for the Church of Christ." Other Christian workers possess this special permit with our qualification; so we shall argue our right to be granted one too. But it is critical that the police accept our request for a permanent permission to continue to stay and work in Italy. This is an item of prayer and concern every time it comes up for all of American Christian workers here. Now it is our turn...
Our appointment with the immigration authorities is set for 18 August at 8:30 am. Would you put that on your calendar and pray that the Lord open all the doors necessary to get that permit? We have the official papers ready, that the law calls for; but then, there are also officials to deal with. So we ask you to pray.

The language barrier. We feel that we are working in a spiritually burnt-out land, because many people here act as if they think they know all there is to know about Christ and Christianity, and have moved on to other gods, post-Christian philosophies and the like. So, as we present the Gospel, we use all the familiar Scriptural language, but with a Biblical content that is often diametrically opposite theirs. But because they have already heard our (Bible) words before, their minds automatically run to the old mental concepts they think reflect the Bible meanings. So, how does one communicate? Even if we are fluent in Italian, we face a significant language barrier. It's also a question of the heart.

Thanks. You have blessed us with your love and prayers, and we are grateful! May the God of hope give you peace and joy in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit! (Romans 15:13)

Harold and Enid Fowler