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Friday, January 16, 2009

UPDATE FOR DECEMBER 2008

Midwinter Rally in Germany. Again the Lord provided perfect weather for driving to Colditz in east Germany for our fellowship rally between Christmas and New Year's. This year the featured speaker had to cancel at almost the last minute. The rally committee was really on top of the problem and enlisted local missionaries on short notice to speak in his place. Each evening we heard some encouraging sermons and Bible studies on 2 Thessalonians from Randy Jones (Cosovo), Harold (Italy), Scott Caulley (Germany) and Randy Smelser (Germany). Randy and Josh Furnal (Italy) presented seminars analyzing "Post-Modernism and the Emerging Church" examining some of its implications for our work. Paul Daniels (Kentucky) brought Stateside workers to lead the music and children's program. Enid participated with Katy Smelser, Karen Richardson and Marcus Van Doorn in a "Talk Show" format discussing "Long-term contentment on the mission field." Just a list of the topics may give you some insight into the workings of the missionary's life, especially that of the wife and mother:
- Does having no children, or not having them around, cause for discontentment?
- In what situations do feel homesickness for the States or family or loneliness?
- Is a furlough/reporting trip to the States something that helps you in the area of contentment?
- Do you feel that you can use your gifts, or are you forced/needed to be something that you are not?
- What strategies for being content have you learned?
People Stateside may not realize what it means for the missionary wife and mother not to have her children nearby, and the power of contentment to keep her laboring faithfully over the years. All of ours are in the States?
Each morning three missionaries or groups presented several items for specific prayer. We then broke into small prayer groups to hold up these prayer requests before the Father. During this rally we prayed for roughly 50 different needs, activities and people, and wondered where the time went!
Wittenberg. Our convention site was just a relatively short drive away from the site of Martin Luther's famous stand against abuses in the Church, so we took the opportunity to visit his church and tomb, and yes, his 95 theses were still nailed on the door. However, the church was seriously damaged by French cannon fire (1760) but was quickly rebuilt and later restored (1885-1892). This time Luther's 95 theses were nailed on the new door? inscribed in bronze! A reminder that men may attempt to hinder God's work, but it can come back stronger for the opposition it encounters.
In addition to the messages on the Gospel of John and lessons on Ecclesiastes delivered in Matelica before going, Harold prepared two sermons, one for the rally and another for the Peine church where Randy and Katy Smelser minister. At this church we enjoyed sharing with old friends German and American.
Fighting with Bees? Anyone who has disturbed a beehive has thought better of it almost instantly. The bees' sense of danger brings them out in mass to swarm over the enemy and defend the hive. The "enemy" may mean them no harm, but the bees don't know that, and so they attack. We often feel problems that swarm around us like bees. It seems like we are accomplishing so little because some of them may be several years old. We prioritize and begin on what is important, and then the "bees" of the urgent launch an attack. We try to work on Bible lessons for publication among our churches, and the "bees" of someone else's urgent need demand our attention. Every year has its own built-in to-do list of summer and winter, heat and cold, conventions and contacts, weekend preaching and teaching. These require time, energy, direction and good choices, all of which makes completing our long-term projects difficult. But you know this, so let's pray together, that our common mission may be fruitful in the long term for the Lord's glory.
We pray for you too that the peace that passes all understanding may guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.
Love from both of us,
Harold and Enid Fowler

UPDATE FOR NOVEMBER 2008

We baptized a "twenty-first century Lydia", like the one in the New Testament (Acts 16:13-15). Ettora Mariotti finally realized the dream of her life to be obedient to the Lord in Christian immersion. This devout Catholic already understood many things from reading the Scriptures. At her baptism, Ettora gave a well thought out, moving testimony, convincing for its freshness, simplicity and depth. She accompanied her spontaneous confession of faith by a confession of sins. It was the first one our people had ever witnessed. These were not the sins of thievery, drunkenness and the like; she confessed spiritual sins like pride, manipulating people, self-will and resisting God?s leadership.
Her confession of faith left a lasting impression on the minds of our people here. There were tears in many eyes, as they saw her submit herself to Christ. When she finished, there was no reason to ask her to repeat a formal question, "Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ??", because her testimony had eloquently answered this question, even better than we could have expressed it ourselves. We rejoice with her; however, she lives near Assisi, a two-hour drive to Matelica, so we pray for someone to assist in the formation of a new congregation in her area, that this "twenty-first century Lydia" may have regular fellowship with other believers too.
Our church people have now sponsored children. Recently, the regional representative of Compassion International visited our church to seek support for Third World children. Our people adopted four children from varying parts of the world, committing themselves to provide regular support and correspondence for these children. This was a significant step of faith for them to take and means that they have grown considerably. Rejoice with us.
Thanks to North Joplin Christian Church. This Missouri congregation is disbanding as a corporate body, and its members will be moving into other churches in Joplin. This move gives us a sense of loss, since we have known this group since 1958 and loved its people. We have many fond memories of these brethren who encouraged us as we went to Italy the very first time in 1964. We are grateful for what they have meant to us over the years. So, even as they disband, through us a portion of their zeal for the Gospel will continue here in Italy, thanks to their faithfulness and love.
Thank you for praying for us. We rejoice in the power of God to surpass the problems we face. He is every bit as faithful, as He promised.
Harold and Enid Fowler