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Friday, February 01, 2008

UPDATE FOR JANUARY 2008

Mid-Winter Rally. With what superlatives can we describe our annual family reunion of old friends from the Czech Republic, Kosovo, Romania, Germany and Italy? How should we summarize the highly thought-provoking studies led by Larry Niemeyer on "Incarnation and Discipleship" and "Letting God Bring His life and His wisdom to influence our lives"? Larry and his wife are a couple whose lives as disciplers have touched the lives of 24,000 other people who became disciples of Jesus Christ. Don Rohrkasse led us to study why men do not easily identify with "Church." Randy Smelser raised our sights by asking "Why Do Some Churches Reproduce?" Harold and Enid team-taught on "Spiritual Nurture for the Long Haul." She described her odyssey as a missionary wife and mother for 44 years; he talked about attitudes and approaches to self-nurture when one cannot attend seminars for constant edification.
Colditz Castle. Our conference took place in the European Youth Hostel located in one of the castles that became famous during World War II.
"After the outbreak of World War II the castle was converted into a high security prisoner-of-war camp for officers who had become security or escape risks or who were regarded as particularly dangerous. Although it was considered a high security prison, it boasted one of the highest records of successful escape attempts. This could be due to the general nature of the prisoners that were sent there. Most of them had attempted escape previously from other prisons and were transferred to Colditz because the Germans had thought Colditz to be escape-proof. One lavish scheme even included a glider that was kept in a remote portion of the castle?s attic, although it was never used because Germany surrendered to the Allies before the scheduled date of the planned escape." (Wikipedia)
These well-trained men made 300 escape attempts using many ingenious schemes, but only 30 succeeded. We did not want to escape, because we thoroughly enjoyed our rich fellowship and left only because the rally was over!
Weissenfels! This little town south of Leipzig in East Germany was the birthplace and home of Enid's grandmother. Randy and Katy Smelser accompanied us there to help as translators and chauffeurs. We walked among buildings that Enid?s relatives could well have seen, some of which were erected in 1470, a short 22 years before Columbus discovered America. Public offices were not open for the holidays, so we could not examine the genealogical records. So we did the only decent thing proper Germans should do: we stepped into a restaurant to have some delicious stollen and cake, pots of coffee and tea! On the return trip, we did the only decent thing proper Americans should do: we dined at the Weissenfels Burger King!
Thank God for the nearly perfect driving conditions for the 1800 miles in the middle of winter in Germany. There was just a touch of snow, but nothing to slow us up. Our old cars made the trip just fine. Thank God for our 9-year-old Honda Civic because it is a real joy, especially the good mileage: even after 83,700 miles we are actually getting better mileage than the car did when it was brand new!
Andrea Gentile, from the church in Ciampino (Rome), went with us, and our conversations with this young missionary, whom we have known all of his life, were delightful.
Prayer Objectives: please pray specifically for the Matelica Church that this group may accept the challenge to be a self-reproducing church in 2008. Pray that all the Italian churches may overcome the priest-pastor syndrome that leaves responsibility for church growth to the preacher and little, if any, to the people. Pray for the non-Christians whom we are teaching, that they would accept the Lord of life.
We send you our love and gratitude.
Harold and Enid Fowler

UPDATE FOR NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2007

We rejoice that the God of Heaven wanted all of us to know HIM and share in His gift to us. Praise to His Name in this special time of the year when many think of Him. May we praise Him more each day in the New Year!
We rejoice with you! You prayed with us that we could complete our latest book project, and the Lord heard your prayers. We have just received 1,000 copies of Tim Woodroof?s fine book, A Church That Flies, and have begun distribution among Italian-speaking Christian workers. Woodroof?s solid upbringing among churches of Christ gives him a unique vantage point from which to work on the problems that short-circuit a successful return to the New Testament Church.
For big publishers, 1,000 copies is a small print-run, but this first printing is adequate for our specific market among churches of Christ in Italy. We hope to extend the book?s influence among other religious groups, encouraging them to reflect on and apply the same Biblical principles too. Our publisher retained 100 copies for distribution from her website. Our primary goal is to help those who have some understanding of restoring the New Testament Church, but have become blocked by traditional interpretations that have nothing to do with true restoration, and are actually detrimental to its realization.
Health problems in Matelica. Three non-Christian friends of our group have experienced health problems: two suffered broken legs in separate accidents and one is undergoing a long recovery after knee surgery. This gave us opportunity to get into these families that do not know the Lord. As the Italian proverb has it: "Not all ills come to harm you." Sometimes God uses pain to get our attention, so we can hear Him when He speaks.
Harold preached at Rome. Taking advantage of his presence in Rome, the Viale Ionio church invited Harold to preach on Wednesday evening to their midweek group. Two special people were present: a seeker who had left the Catholic Church and is now searching for something solid, and our publisher, an evangelical who came to deliver the books. Both responded favorably to the lesson and asked good questions.
Worship every Lord?s Day at Matelica is led by Italian Christians. Harold teaches at Midweek on Galatians and at Sunday Bible school on "Christ in the Gospels." Enid helps teach Bible school too.
Thank you for your loving encouragement over these many years. We appreciate especially your very practical assistance in prayer. May the Lord of Harvest bless you as you go forward empowered to serve joyfully and effectively in the Kingdom!
Love from both of us,
Harold and Enid Fowler