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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

UPDATE FOR DECEMBER 2005

Home Bible Studies with Amedeo and Marta. What a joy to work with young disciples who really long to know the Word like this young couple! Because they live about an hour's drive from us, they are working at creating a "house church" in the little town where they live. Converted in the Matelica church, they were accustomed to "beefsteak" spiritual nutrition. They felt the need for deeper studies to meet the questions of people with whom they talk. They asked Harold to lead them through the letter of 1 John as a beginning course. This book is relatively simple but deep, and gives clear, solid principles for dealing with several forms of unbelief we all encounter in Italy. They are bringing others into this course too.
Enid's Identity. For the 41 years we have been in Italy, every single burocrat with whom we have dealt, demanded that Enid use her maiden name, and that we change all of her Italian papers (residence ID, driver's license, fiscal card, etc.) to "Enid Kraxberger". No matter that her American passport and her Italian (!) permission to live in Italy, have always called her ?Enid Fowler?! With the formation of the European Union, however, they changed the rules, and the burocrats now require that she go through the headaches of changing all of these documents back to her married name. They required that the American Embassy in Rome declare that "Enid Kraxberger" and "Enid Fowler" are the same person! The Lord blessed her by making most of it go relatively smoothly. Oh well, we knew she was our dear Enid all along, no matter what they called her!
Thank you for your prayers. A crisis arose involving the literary editor who corrects Harold's material. The former choked spiritually on the preface of Harold's book, not understanding its direction, and refused to read it. For ten days Harold worked, sweated, wept and prayed over a Scriptural clarification of the ideas being questioned. You prayed too, and Angelo read with eagerness (his word) the answers Harold sent. He was convinced, and began work on the book. Your prayers do count with the Lord, and we are so glad you prayed.

UPDATE FOR NOVEMBER 2005

Aprilia convention. Try to imagine 200 Italian Christians gathered together at Aprilia, south of Rome for a challenging convention theme: "The Church of Christ: Dwelling Place of God?" This non-instrument congregation invited us to a meaty, spiritual feast, and what a warm, loving reception we experienced! Although we already knew some of the convention-goers, we expanded our range of fellowship. Speakers developed satisfyingly mature presentations on questions like: "Religious Formalism," "Jesus Goes Beyond the Law," "What Kind of Church?" and "Mercy: God's Measuring Stick." The depth and far-sightedness of these brothers? messages bodes well for the future of the Italian church.
One of our major emphases is encouraging Christian unity by going to the other churches of Christ, to make acquaintance with our brothers and sisters there, to offer our personal fellowship so they may get to know us. Someone said: "It is easy to distrust someone whom you do not know well, but quite a bit easier to love someone who is willing to make the effort to love you." So we try.
Second Edition of Stroop's book on Bible interpretation. Harold is finishing a complete revision of J. Ridley Stroop's book: Why Do People Not See the Bible Alike? The first edition served preachers who asked just for the basic ideas; the second is geared to a wider readership in the churches. The book will go to an Italian editor to check literary clarity and smoothness of expression, after which we can go to press.
Books for prisoners. Mario Baldini, a Christian in Prato, works with rehabilitation of prisoners in the local penitentiary, and took us to meet some of them. One spin-off: our church at Matelica, wanting to contribute to his ministry, immediately sent 25 copies of the Pictorial New Testament: Acts of the Apostles, illustrated by Paul Nash (College Press, Joplin, Missouri). Lecce Christian Mission and the Literature and Training Ministries (Joplin) published this helpful book in Italian. Mario was thrilled to have these books for distribution in the Prato prison. He asked for this number of copies to "test the water," because he is limiting his ministry to 23-25 prisoners. He says, "It is better to work well with fewer men, than to commit oneself to too many, and end up working with no one well."