11 people were baptized in church this month- last year 10 people were baptized in the whole year! The church is growing in numbers and in love and commitment to Jesus.
The greatest moment when someone is baptized is the moment they come back up out of the water. There is nothing like the look on one’s face as they come back up from the water- as they leave buried in that water all their past mistakes and sorrows and choose to start a new life following Jesus. The look on their face is pure joy and peace. The first thing they do is hug the person who is standing closest to them- they want to share their joy! It is a special moment and it is a privelege to watch so many people taking this step in their lives this month.
This weekend, January 6-7, Gianluca and I attended a retreat as representatives and leaders of i68 for youth leaders in Puglia. The retreat was focused on how to create unity amongst the churches in Italy and specifically among the young believers in Italy (more specifically the region of Puglia). Several churches from around the region were represented at the retreat as were a few different youth movements. It was a great time of reflection upon all God has done through GENS the youth movement here in Puglia, and all God continues to desire to do. Each church representative had the opportunity to share about what they are living right now in their particular reality and how, in their opinion, we might achieve more unity between the churches. It was a great 2 days together and it was amazing to see the maturity that each young person and leader was able to show in sharing about themselves, their difficulties, church dynamics, etc. We are certain that God is doing great things and the He wants to unite His body in Italy in order to better show His glory to the world around us. To be a light, we must live in His light.
Pray for unity in Italy….great steps have been taken, but there is still a long road to travel.
Gianluca had the privelege of bringing a large group of young people to a conference in Germany December 27 through January 2. It was a great opportunity for the youth to be exposed to the world of missions. Several of the missions candidates attended this year, which provided them an opportunity to get to know missions organizations, agencies, and opportunities around the world.
God did great things in the hearts of those who attended, and He continues to stir many young people’s hearts towards dedicating their lives to the mission field.
A New Year’s celebration Maya style! To celebrate the upcoming “end of the world” we celebrated the beginning of this year Maya style. It was a great night of fun at il Rifugio, our center in Ruvo. It was great to reflect upon all the things we have lived through and grown through this last year and look forward to all that the Lord might have in store for us in this new year to come.