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After months of being bombarded with news of the COVID virus I tried not to write on this post anything about what is happening in our world today. However, God has taught me many things in this difficult time so I have decided to share some of that here.
We returned to the states on February 26th for our tenth furlough only to see the closure of Italy on the heels of our departure, California closed after our services there, New York was hit hard and closed after we left to drive to Ohio for services and after our first mission conference in Ohio the churches were forced to close and we found our selves in the basement apartment of dear friends for almost 50 days.
In those days of watching the news constantly fear began to seep into my
thoughts. This pandemic was claiming thousands of lives and was described as “lethal” and “deadly”. Italy where my four children and 14 grandchildren live and serve God was one of the worst areas. Would they get sick? I’m in danger because I am over 60! What can I do to keep safe?
I would waken during the night with a dry mouth and throat or cough and ask God to help me. Had I gotten the Coronavirus? After weeks we finally ventured out into a store for groceries equipped with gloves and masks. If someone got close to me in the store I panicked and changed aisles. We wiped everything down with Clorox that we brought into our home before putting anything away.
Little by little God spoke peace to my heart. Is God still on His throne? Do you know what is going on here? God’s Word answered my questions and fears through His Word. “Lord you know all about me. You are all around me – in front and in the back and have put your hand on me. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body.”
All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. God examine me and know my heart; test me and know my nervous thoughts. Psalm 139:16
Those who go to The God Most High for safety will be protected by the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, You are my place of safety and protection. You are my God and I trust you. The Lord is your protection; you have made God Most High your place of safety. Psalm 91: 1-3, 9
Will some of us get the virus? Maybe. Will most of us get better? Most likely! But let’s not waste time and energy panicking when we can rest in the good care of our Father who knows and loves us.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things we are added unto you. So don’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will have it’s own worries. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof! Matthew 6: 33.34
As Fred and I have been far from our beloved church in Perugia Italy and quarantined for months so that we could not attend church in the USA I have been reminded of the importance God gives to belonging to a local church. It is not only a place where we hear the Word of God taught (I can get lots of messages online any day of the week.) but the local church is where we learn to love, serve, edify with our words of encouragement and even correct when needed (Matthew 18).
Ephesians 5:19 says we are to address each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. I hope you have missed all of that.
Wednesday recently, our pastors had some of our folks share their testimony and how God is meeting their needs in this time of separation and what we need to pray for them about. Wow how precious was that? Those were my sisters and brothers in Christ who shared a piece of their lives – joys and their burdens in a few minutes on tape. I loved that. I know better how to pray for them now. Are we willing to be vulnerable with our fellow church members? They were.
As you read the New Testament note how many “one another” there are. Don’t be satisfied with an online message once a week. God wants us to part of a Bible-believing and teaching local church where we can grow together helping and encouraging one another.
Additional Scriptures to encourage you:
Acts 2:41,42, 46,47; Ephesians 4:1-3; Titus 2; Romans 12:9-16; I Corinthians 12:14–20 – One body
Fred and I left Italy at the end of February with a brutal schedule which included reporting in supporting churches every weekend except one ending the 5th of November when we fly back to Italy. We would be traveling from California to New York to Ohio to New York to Houston to Saint Louis, Missouri to Chicago to Edmonton, Canada to Richmond Virginia to New York where we would speak in the majority of our supporting churches. We made it as far as Ohio when most states were shut down and our friends allowed us to quarantine in their basement apartment for 50 days.
Our tenth furlough is the first one in which we have had a “long restful time”. But we soon realized we needed to redeem the time and find useful things to do. We were able to continue our contact with the church in Italy through the internet and have lovely prayer times on Wednesdays with different members. They too are only allowed to worship through the internet. Fred began spending an hour a day studying his Hebrew course but what could I do? Would retirement look like this? Would I no longer have a way to touch the lives of our precious nation of Italy?
After a few weeks, I was contacted by a man who had asked me in our furlough of 2016 to translate a booklet that could be used to help Sunday School teachers and parents present the Gospel to the children in Italy. This booklet will now be distributed in Italy on kindle and they wanted the translation of the revised version. Yeah. I could take on this project. The booklet is, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel by Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk. Why am I so passionate about getting this booklet into the hands of our folks? I am convinced that in many churches and in many Christian families children are encouraged to say a prayer to “accept Christ” before they have understood the Gospel. As adults, though they have never loved God nor obeyed him they feel safe from eternal damnation for the prayer said.
I am an example of that kind of evangelism. I only understood and came to know God during my second semester of Bible college. God made me realize during prayer meetings as I listened to people conversing with the God they loved and served that I had never truly been born again.
I highly recommend purchasing Helping Children Understand the Gospel through the organization Truth:78
After many years of service on a very difficult field, we arrive at this point in our ministry with grateful hearts, full of anticipation for what God will continue to do for the sake of His name in Central Italy.
Please pray for the next generation as Fred has transitioned to Pastor Emeritus and passed the ministry baton to Jonathan and Daniel. Pray as they work to disciple and train men to shepherd and serve the church. Pray that God would raise up a man to lead this church as a non-missionary pastor. To God be the glory!
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