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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

UPDATE FOR MAY 2008

Civitavecchia Trip. By special invitation, we visited a small group of believers living north of Rome at Civitavecchia. Harold shared with them the biblical concepts expressed in "A Church That Flies." Because this group came out of varied backgrounds, they could appreciate the wisdom of this message. As a young Christian group, they had experienced all the frustration of examination and excommunication by self-appointed "watch-dogs of orthodoxy" whose sectarian views immediately categorized this group?s "entry-level" faith as unfaithfulness toward God! Can you foresee that they readily warmed to someone who loved them, even if not sharing all their views?
Free publicity announcing the publication of "A Church That Flies" is beginning to go out to a readership among brethren from Churches of Christ in Italy. Our announcement has been accepted for publication on their website and has begun to reach our intended audience.
Pray for Harold's message. He is the leadoff speaker at the coming convention at Velletri in mid-May. His task is to introduce the book "A Church That Flies." This theme can prove to be a real godsend, but it faces some unsympathetic hearers, so we would seek your prayers for the favorable reception of the book's pioneering message. The date is May 16; the time is 11,30 EST, but your prayers are welcome and appreciated even now. A public distribution of this book will be made at the convention.
Kingsley evangelized in Nigeria. We introduced you to Kingsley Eseguee, one of the Nigerian Christians that participate in our church at Matelica. In April he returned to his homeland briefly to participate actively in an evangelistic campaign in his hometown. Our Italian group helped him to purchase food and equipment for the program, since he worked alongside other Nigerians in this evangelistic effort. Our group is thrilled not only that he took this opportunity to reach out in his home country, but also for his zeal here in Italy. His fervor is a good model for our people too.
Visitors. We were blessed by two sets of guests: Randy and Katy Smelser and Dale and Barbara Mallory. These missionaries in Germany were in Italy to work on the Mid-Winter Rally planning for this year's end. Although guests of the Italian committee members, they had free time to bless our lives too.
We appreciate you and your prayers!
Harold and Enid Fowler

UPDATE FOR APRIL 2008

Enid stocked up for the women's convention. She printed books and booklets almost non-stop, working them in between her other tasks. She then distributed our publications among the churches represented by the women attending the meeting.
You should see our new color catalog. This innovation enhances the look of our publications. It's amazing what a new color cover can do for some heavy Bible studies. Just because the content requires thinking doesn't mean that the covers have to be dull and uninteresting! By scanning the new book covers and reducing them to thumbnail size, we were able to issue a good-looking catalog.
"A Church That Flies" PowerPoint presentation begun. Harold has begun work on a message for the family week of the Velletri convention in May. His task is to introduce the book he translated.
This book's content could be perceived as controversial to some who attend the convention, for whom a conviction that "all necessary truth has already been learned, so further thinking is unnecessary." So we would again ask your prayers that he be able to make a good presentation and then respond well to the questions that will surely arise during the question and answer time that follows.
One of our co-laborers has already received some negative letters from former missionaries to Italy who question the appropriateness of printing such a book. A few complaints from some Christians who have begun to call the book "heresy." We are looking for the initially open response that the Apostle Paul received in Rome when he gathered the Jewish community. They responded, "We want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect." (Ac. 28:21 ff). We can expect something of the same result he got: "Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves?" Rejoice for some positive comments are beginning to come in too.
Thanks for your prayers that make our work in Italy possible! You may not hear all the "domino-effect" answers your prayers launched. Certainly, only the Lord can reveal their long-term effect to you at the Judgment, but may we encourage you to keep praying? anyway. Some problems have been ironed out, almost before we knew we had them. Praise our heavenly Father for pleasant surprises like this.
We have finally had some rain and the first snow of the winter. This could be critical this summer if the water sources begin to dwindle and water is rationed, as it has been in the past. The neighbors said, "We are going to plant potatoes this year, due to the dry weather." So, Enid planted potatoes too, with this difference: she prayed, "Lord, we need some snow up on the mountains" and it began to rain and snow! Thank Him for His goodness. We are probably not the first to tell you that the buying power of the American dollar is dropping. But let us remember that we have only one fully dependable Supporter, and even with a falling dollar, He can provide however He wishes, even with home-grown potatoes.
We appreciate you and your prayers!
Harold and Enid Fowler

UPDATE FOR MARCH 2008

Harold and Enid take turns being sick. When we got our flu shots last November to immunize ourselves against the flu, they must have given us a placebo, or else the proper vaccine against this year's "new and improved" microbes did not work. This has really slowed us down this year. Thanks for your prayers, because we spent little down-time in bed, although, for awhile, life was a drag here!
Enid is printing books. This Spring we are anticipating taking our books for distribution at three brotherhood conventions. The ladies' convention comes up at the end of this month, the family convention in May, with another in June. So Enid is doing everything necessary to have sufficient copies of all of our materials for each meeting. These conventions offer opportunities to share information, Bible study materials and promote good books.
THREE ENCOURAGING ANSWERS TO PRAYER:
Giuseppe Perrone, one of our brothers in south Italy, emailed Harold, asking for study materials on a given subject. Little did he know that, at the very moment he was typing the email, Harold was at the computer finalizing a book on the very subject he asked for!
Vittorio Vitalone, preacher in Rome, emailed Harold asking for part of his PowerPoint presentation of "A Church That Flies". It took no time at all to attach this material to an email and fire it right back to Vittorio! When we have something ready, sharing it with our preaching brothers is no trouble at all.
Harold to speak at Velletri. The committee that organizes the Velletri convention this year invited Harold to present "A Church That Flies", the book we recently published. This opportunity to give the lead-off message at this convention is a real first for him. He has waited over 20 years for this invitation, because, for many of the participants at these gatherings, we are "on the wrong side of the keyboard." It has taken a great deal of patience to wait for such an opportunity. In the meantime we continued writing and publishing Bible study materials to help everyone do his or her job of teaching in the churches. This time was well spent, because it was earning the confidence of the brethren. These years of patient waiting are beginning to pay off. Now, please pray that the Lord help Harold to speak well at this upcoming convention and meet some real needs. These dear people have blessed us too, and we really want to bless them wherever we can.

UPDATE FOR FEBRUARY 2008

Kingsley led worship! Back in February 2005 we introduced you to Kingsley Ezeguee from Nigeria. This young brother lives just 15 minutes from us and works in our area and brings a breath of fresh air and joy to us. We have treated him and his other Nigerian friends to meals in our home. He was prepared for Christian ministry in one of the Bible schools in his native country, but since he was just beginning to learn to speak Italian, he could do very little at first. Whenever he was called upon to pray in the assembly or asked to preach, Harold translated his "Nigerian English" into Italian. Now, however, he is quite fluent in Italian and accepted to lead the worship. Our people were patient and pleased that he could use his gifts in this way.
Because he comes from the Ibo tribe in Nigeria, he links up with other Ibos who have migrated to Italy to work. He shares an apartment with three Muslim young men his age. He courageously encourages Ibos to talk about their faith, and invites them to come along with him to worship with us. He has brought Catholics, Evangelicals and even a Muslim from Bangladesh.
February sickness. Even though Enid and Harold took their influenza shots back in November, they came down with varying degrees of flu. Enid had stabbing pains and fever for two or three days, while Harold just felt weak. They had to cancel two Bible studies, but seem to be back on their feet.
Enid has a small cookbook. A missions committee, working on a missionary fair for their church, requested the missionaries to furnish four or five recipes typical of their country of service to create a missionary cookbook. So, Enid put together several for Italy. They are delicious. Need we say more?
Matthew Commentary. Work is proceeding slowly on Harold?s Matthew studies. These he inserts as sermons preached here in Matelica, between other sermon series. He shares printed copies with some of the men who will be preaching. It is very interesting to see what use they are able to make of Harold?s work as they preach the material back to Harold during their own service in the Matelica church!
Thanks Debbie! Debbie Alwardt, of the Southern Heights Christian Church in Lebanon, MO, has faithfully served as forwarding secretary for many years. We are deeply grateful for what she has done and is as a trustworthy Christian servant. She?s the kind of friend "you could entrust your checkbook to", literally! We have watched her children grow up and rejoice in their accomplishments. Thanks also to Mike, her husband, who has worked quietly behind the scenes to take care of this beautiful family.
Thanks Dan! For those of you who receive our Newsletter, maybe you did not know that Dan DeNeal of Hoopeston, IL, is the professional printer who adds the finishing touches to our Newsletter and prints it. He then ships it to Debbie and she affixes the mailing labels, sorts and organizes everything according to postal rules so that the mail will go out.
Thank you all! With friends and help like you, the Lord has been able to make use of our efforts to encourage Italian Christians and become a point of reference. Some younger missionaries even call Harold "Gandalf". You have prayed, we have worked and the Lord is praised!
Pray for our lost calendars. Every year our people distribute calendars with a well-written Christian message for each day. These are appreciated by their non-Christian and Catholic friends. Our order for these got tied up in the Christmas rush complicated by a lengthy and crippling strike by truckers. We believe our order (and that of a lot of others!) is tied up in some postal warehouse. Would you pray that these tools for evangelism may be delivered, and more critically, that the Christian gospel may be proclaimed in one more way that is appreciated by its recipients?