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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

UPDATE FOR JUNE 2009

Victory funeral for Rosetta Cassano Italiano. Can any funeral be a blessing and turn out to the victory of the Gospel? It sure can! Rosetta, wife of Giuseppe Italiano, preacher at Terracina, lost her battle with brain cancer of the very virulent type, but she had already won the hearts of those who knew her. Three different posters announced her funeral, using the various names by which people in town knew her for over 40 years of Christian witness in the seaside town of Terracina. The church there is small and their worship building also. However, such had been the testimony of Giuseppe and Rosetta, that the bishop of Latina (!) offered them the use of a spacious building for her funeral. This structure seats 250-300 people, and it was full on the day of the funeral. A number of brethren from the churches of Christ in south Italy made the 1000-km roundtrip journey for the occasion. Some of them led the program, read Scripture, prayed. Enid played the electric organ, Harold preached the Gospel of God's grace to a full house. Rosetta's son, Roberto, himself a well-known local TV sportscaster, recounted later that at least 50 people from the Catholic congregation had approached him, happily surprised and impressed by the quality of the Christian testimony that the church of Christ people had left in the minds of the Catholics present.
Only the Lord knows for sure what good may come from this event. Pray with us that the incredible events that came together here may give God glory and lead to the building of the Lord's church in Terracina, Italy.
Church Growth conventions. In May, the Viale Ionio church in Rome an "a cappella" church sponsored its 29th lectureship at Velletri. In mid-June the "instrument" churches led by the Lecce church pulled together brothers and sisters from both groups for a fine meeting. The dates were close together, but we experienced no conflict, but rather a warm sense of brotherhood. This is coming together out of many friendly contacts over the years. The theme chosen for both was "Church Growth," so, not surprisingly, both groups tended to work on expressing some give very practical expressions of real unity.
At this latter convention, Harold spoke on "The Church that Teaches", emphasizing various areas in which the local congregations can organize courses on the four Gospels to develop their members to be greater disciples of Jesus. He urged courses on the Old Testament that "is able to make the church wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." He urged the audience to proclaim and practice the grace of God in three sectors: the so-called "pattern for the church," in the area of church unity, and in the area of what to do with groups of believers that are not associated with our movement. He mentioned prayer to depend on God as an area of needed by self-made, self-dependent pragmatists. We need courses in defense of the faith and explaining Scripture correctly and Christian ethics. All this, because some congregations have slipped into a stultifying style of Christian life and worship that is unattractive, unconvincing and unproductive. The other speakers emphasized other questions that brought balance to the overall picture, and blessed their hearers.
Enid distributed more of our books at this convention than at earlier ones, because, like any bookstore, we are reaching out to new people every year.
One of our neighbors who owns some land in the country, has been giving Enid farm-fresh eggs from her hens. Recently the woman invited Enid to pick cherries from her tree. (An afternoon's work yielded 13,2 lb of fruit.) This contact with her has already raised some spiritual issues. So, Enid is going right ahead in this friendly context.
Thank you for the consistency of your praying for us! This is encouraging.
We send our love and prayers,
Harold and Enid