The past few days I have been working on an application for a church, trying to get support. In the process, I realized that many of the questions the application are some of the same questions that I am asked by the people I have met with when telling them about my mission trip to Italy. So for those I haven't met with or ones who want to know more, here it is!
1.) Briefly describe the mission and ministry of which you are or will be a part.
I will be a part of a team consisting of three married couples that are International Campus Staff, and three Short Term International Missionaries. We will be seeking to reach 100,000 college students at the University of Bologna. In a community is which less than 4% of the population attend church regularly. Furthermore, the University of Bologna has not had an effective evangelical Christian organization present for 20 years.
Our goal will be to build relationships with the students at the University of Bologna in two ways. The first will be to host an English club with the students that will allow us to interact with them on a constant basis. The second will be to attend an Italian language program that will help us both connect with students as well as participate in the culture. We are hoping that by building these relationships with the students, that they will be able to see something different about our lives, our hope and faith in Christ, and want that too.
Once we reach them for Christ we are looking to disciple them. We will do this by encouraging regular church attendance, quite time, prayer, and reading the scripture. We are also going to be leading small group bible studying to encourage growth in the word of God.
2.) What will be/are your specific responsibilities?
They categorize my responsibilities in four major categories.
The first is to love my Lord. I will do this by maintaining my relationship with the Lord through constant prayer life, and studying God’s word. I also will seek to grow as the Lord works in my in the coming year, and to allow the Holy Spirit to help me maintain this relationship.
The second major responsibility I have is to love my team. How we interact with each other will determine how those we are witnessing to will view us, and Christianity. We are to be an example of fellowship and of God’s love. We will have a team covenant and norms that I will follow. I will participate in all team activities and make sure that I do my share of the work.
Our third major responsibility is to launch a movement. Our plan is to go after the Italians in Bologna in three ways. The first is to work with high school students. By working here many of the students going into a University from Bologna will have had an opportunity to hear about Christ. The second in to penetrate the family life in Bologna. Many Italians are replacing the close family relationships with the same things they are replacing their faith with, materialism. Some of my team will be focusing their attention there. I will be a part of the team seeking to make a difference with the 100,000 college students at the University of Bologna. We will be working to share Christ with students who don’t know Jesus is the son of God. At the University of Florence last year they interviewed 100 students who all said that they do not believe that Jesus is the son of God. The students at the University of Bologna are very similar. I will also be working with my team to follow up and disciple those who trust Christ, building up Italians to also share their faith and become spiritual leaders in their community.
My forth task will be to Learn a new world. I will be working to learn Italian so that I can both connect with students but to also be able to be a effective cross-cultural laborer. I will also adapt my life style to better be able to serve those who I seek to minister.
3.) Provide a brief story of how you became a Christ follower.
My freshman year of college, I had no sooner moved into my first dorm room, than my grandmother called saying that a friend of my cousin’s would be picking me up at 8:30 Sunday morning and taking me to church. At this time, I knew of God and had prayed some, considered myself a Christian, but had never really gone to church or had a personal relationship with the savior. That semester I began attending church regularly and learning what it took to walk with the Lord. I knew that I could not earn salvation on my own, but that I needed it to forgive my sins and allow me into the presence of the Lord. In October, I met with the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bryan and confessed my sins, and my need for a savior. Christ became to one to whom I would follow and would turn my old life over to. Slowly, things in my life changed and I became ever aware of God’s grace and his loving relationship with me.
4.) Briefly explain how God led you to pursuing this mission.
When I went to Florence last year, our team of 16 was grouped into groups of 4. Each day that we ministered in Florence, one group would go to Bologna, an hours trains ride north. When my team got the chance to go to Bologna, I didn’t know what to expect. We were there to meet two more International Campus staff, Jesse and Tricia Marcos.
Before, we started our afternoon on the University of Bologna’s campus, we sat down for café. Tricia mentioned that they had come to Bologna because of a friendship their son had with another student at the Black Forest Academy in Germany. Their son’s friend’s father was a pastor in Bologna, and had been praying with other churches for over 20 years that someone or group would come and partner with the churches in reaching the University students there. Long story short, Jesse and Tricia moved to Bologna in 2007 and began scoping the campus looking for a way for Campus Crusade to partner with the churches in reaching Italian students for Christ.
When I arrived, Jesse and Tricia both had decided that an important part of reaching students for Christ at the University of Bologna would include building relationships with the students. One of the ways that had proved successful at other campuses was to have a English club or English teacher involved with reaching students on campus. Tricia at that point had already heard that I was an English as a Second Language teacher, and was interested in having me come back in the fall of 2009 to fill the role.
I was certain that I could serve as a E.S.L. teacher, but as a missionary I wasn’t sure. I mean, God knew I was a sinner. I came back to the states thankful she had thought of me but certain that someone else would fill the role. Around January, God began moving my heart in a major way. In church our pastor, Ken Horton was teaching through the book of Acts. In my young adults group, EIKON, we were reading through the New Testament, starting in the book of Acts. In my small group, we keep going through studies that included a lot about the book of Acts. I don’t know about you but I felt that God had a message for me in the book of Acts.
I paid close attention over the next couple of months and one of the things, that I felt God was leading me to with the help of the Holy Spirit was that Paul, who used to persecute and martyr the Christians, was transformed by God. Paul then spent the rest of his life reaching out and sharing the news of Christ with the gentiles. I realized that if God would use Paul he might use me too. I also realized that everyone God used in the bible other than Jesus himself was an imperfect person, and God called them too!
God grew me in other ways too in preparing my heart. He used the story of the woman at the well to teach me that I could leave my jars, or valuable things, and share the good news of Christ. He used words from my pastors and many stories from the bible to show me God’s will could include room for me. Needless to say I can’t wait to share God with the Italians in Italy.