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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

UPDATE FOR OCTOBER 2006

Anzio Beachhead. Near this famous landing area for the Allied troops during World War II, there exists a small church of Christ. These brethren invited Harold to present his seminar on Christian Liberty and the Law of Christ. They gave him six one-hour sessions to speak to brethren present from churches in Rome, Aprilia and Prato. Enid set up our book display too. The primary purpose of these PowerPoint lessons was to deepen people?s understanding of what it is that we are trying to restore, and what hinders the return to New Testament Christianity.
October 21. We again ask your prayers for a second meeting on October 21 that has the modest goal of making mutual acquaintances out of which could come other conversations on Christian Unity. It is easier to ignore someone whose faith is not well known, or worse, suspect his motives and orthodoxy. Christians from various parts of Italy need to get acquainted. Many will do so at Anzio on October 21. Please pray for this encounter. Out of these acquaintances can come friendship and a sense of brotherhood.
Pray with us that ANZIO will be a beachhead for a significant, spiritual assault on the problem of division among God?s people, that the world may believe.

UPDATE FOR SEPTEMBER 2006

Summer?s End Conference at Florence. The Harding University Florence Branch sponsors a convention each year, and this gives us opportunity to display our publications. We are enthusiastic because the high quality of the messages each year meets deep needs of the churches. We are able to make new acquaintances from various parts of Italy, even if for that brief period we have together to share life, experiences, prayers and hopes. This is spiritual capital for future investments!
Enid the Printer. In preparation for two conventions, Enid kept our photocopier running hot (it was also summertime) and spiral-binding Bible study books and lessons for distribution at these meetings.
Since it was summer, she watered her garden, and we have enjoyed a few roasting ears, the green beans are beginning to come on. The growing time is longer for us, because her garden is located in the shade of one massive pine tree and our apartment building. But, thank the Lord, the garden does produce, and we enjoy fresh vegetables.
The Law of Christ and Christian Liberty. Some will remember Harold?s Stateside presentation of this subject. Churches here are asking for a replay of this program. He has now updated the Italian version of this Bible study in PowerPoint format for presentation in the churches. Pray that out of it may come further contacts among Churches of Christ. The purpose is not mere academic instruction, but bettering the quality of service to our Lord and unity of the Body of Christ.
Pray for unity among God?s people. We are planning to meet with other brethren on October 21 to begin working on practical steps to Christian unity among the heirs of the Restoration Movement here in Italy. Put this date on your prayer calendar, as the Lord?s people look for His face in other committed believers.

UPDATE FOR AUGUST 2006

Answer to prayer ? answer to depression. Recently, both Harold and Enid were discouraged about problems: the work was not progressing as we hoped it would. We simply stopped what we were doing and prayed, and, wouldn?t you know it? Within one hour a brother from another section of Italy, called to invite Harold to present a seminar to a church we have not visited before! The caller knew our work because of our publications, books and tracts that he had used, and, so he is inviting folk from other area churches for this meeting. What an encouragement this was, to return to work, highly motivated! Praise the Lord!
There?s more! That same day, the Lord prompted another brother from north of Rome to drop us an email, requesting us to come alongside another brother who is going through some deep depression. The writer also requested information about books on the validity of the Bible, for his nephews.
These brethren probably did not realize that, by treating us as a point of reference for help, they were serving the purposes of ?the God of all encouragement.? Pray that we may support the weak as He has reassured us.
Pray for Francesco. At the Thursday night Bible study, this Matelica church leader is teaching a fine series on the Gospel of John. His positive input is blessing his own life as much as that of those who study with him. John?s point is to build faith in Jesus and give eternal life to the believers. Francesco is catching this and passing it on to the others. Only knowing Jesus furnishes the motivation to get down to the essential functions of Christianity, and participate in the joy He brings.

UPDATE FOR JULY 2006

Retirement? Not yet. Someone thought that we are living in retirement in Italy! We do get tired, but we?re not at all RE-tired! In fact, with permanent permission to remain in Italy, we have gained our ?second wind?. Believe it or not, we actually have more, varied projects, now that we have gained ?grandparent? status with the younger Italian families. Just pray for our moral strength, and health, too, will you?
Fowlers to visit American churches in 2007. We are planning to visit our supporting churches to share pictures of some of our spiritual children and grandchildren in the Lord. Our rough draft calls for visiting Colorado in April, gradually moving east in May and June. If you would like for us to speak at your church during this time, let?s begin to talk about it together. Tell us what basic period would fit your schedule best, and what you would like for us to do while there, if possible.
Martins visited Italy. Enid?s sister and brother-in-law, Carole and Frank Martin of Denver, delighted us with two splendid weeks together. They attended one of our conventions in south Italy. English translation was needed to help them enjoy the Italian program, but they got a first-hand view of some of Christ?s work in Italy. Yes, they saw the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Vatican library, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter?s. Franca Gentile kindly hosted us all in Ciampino, giving us the opportunity to participate in worship with that church on Sunday. No one else was prepared to preach that morning, so they invited Harold.
Torre dell?Orso convention. In a comfortable environment in south Italy, brethren from churches of Christ and Christian churches met for a truly heart-warming rally. These came in roughly equal numbers from both sides of the musical instrument question, to preach together, to pray together, to sing together, to worship together, to eat together, and to talk together. TOGETHER! What a glorious word! We participated in the Lord?s Supper, we walked forward together to receive the wine and bread. As the line moved slowly to the Table, no one could really discern the others? difference in background. No one could count the people at that table of the Lord like this: ?Black sheep, white sheep, black sheep, black sheep, white sheep, white, white, black?? All we could see was ?the flock of God?! For this we had prayed, and the Lord heard. Praise the Name of the Lord!

UPDATE FOR JUNE 2006

Ministry of Reconciliation. Of the many ways of describing Christian service, Paul chose ?the ministry of reconciliation? which proclaims that ?God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ? and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation? (2 Corinthians 5:11?6:2). Not only does the Gospel reconcile men to God, but also to each other. We have seen this reconciling Gospel the joyful fruit of, as we encouraged some estranged brethren to forgive and embrace each other. God is faithful and His gospel helps us to live with one another, despite our imperfections! Praise His Name!
Evolution and Genesis. Teaching evolution as fact is definitely not dead in Italian schools. One of our regular Bible students requested information both about the Genesis account of creation and some responses to evolutionary thinking. His brother is preparing a report for one of his highschool classes, which is a heavy background of evolutionary thinking. So Harold updated lesson materials he prepared years ago, readying them as one more study available for the churches.