‘Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”’ John 21:11-12
Wouldn’t you love to have been there on the shore of Galilee with the risen Christ around the breakfast fire? We studied and meditated on this chapter in our closing lesson of the Applicazione course this semester, reflecting on how Jesus is Sovereign of the catch, a large one at that! We rejoiced that he will not let one of his own be lost. When fishing for Jesus, it’s wonderful to know he has his Church in this city. He has called us to be fishers of men and he will ensure his fish are not snatched away. We write this month of our fishing exploits, despite the disruptions and restrictions of lockdown (which are slowly easing).
Before the building project, we regularly ran apologetics evenings (Buona Domanda) for our contacts in the city. In the middle of shutdown, we re-launched these events and were delighted to be over 40 people present on Zoom with approximately a quarter being guests. The event was called ‘Christ and suffering’. GP spoke from John 11 and the church joined in in answering the many questions raised.
Please pray for Forte Torre church to grow in how to give bold and biblical answers to their lost friends’ questions. Give thanks that the message of Jesus’ cross and resurrection was proclaimed faithfully. It was the first time in ten years that some of our longstanding friends from the Insurance company where Sue teaches came. Also relatives of church folk, the local lawyer who managed some of our building project issues, and an accountant friend who helps us at Forte Torre. Pray for hunger for the word of God amongst those who came, and that in time we could create further contexts in which some of our RC friends can hear and read the Scriptures.
On 12 June, Forte Torre was decorated with sheaves of corn and cornflowers to accompany the chosen theme of GL and S’s wedding: ‘sowing the seed and bearing fruit’ (pictured at top of page). It really was a joy to have our first wedding ceremony inside Forte Torre and we were delighted that the building allowed for JP to preach Mark 4 to a good number of unbelieving relatives (also on Zoom). Yes, the bride and groom were in masks and the numbers were much reduced, but the word of God was sown, conversations were had and we pray for fruit. Please pray for GL’s family, many of whom were struck at the content of the ceremony. Please pray for this young couple to be great fishers of men in their new home.
We give thanks to the Lord for how the doors opened for us to proceed to serve our Quartiere (neighbourhood) with our annual children’s day camp. It included the Joseph narrative, crafts, games and English! Recruitment was a miracle - the Lord gave us one non-church family, who then proceeded to invite all their pals! This was a wonderful answer to prayer, as up to now we had not tapped into the families and local schools of our new neighbourhood, despite praying for some time for openings. 14 children came and obeyed the refrain ‘Metre-Mascherina-Mani’ (metre apart, masks and hands)! But more importantly they heard about the God of Joseph who was working behind the scenes for the good of his people within his covenant purpose.
Give thanks for new features this year, the puppets who appeared in the afternoon to consolidate the morning teaching, and the team of church volunteers who arrived every evening to clean and sanitise everything to meet the COVID regulations. Praise God for new leaders who learnt to teach OT narrative well to children, and for the team of assistant leaders who were particularly struck by the typology of Jesus in Joseph. Praise the God of Israel, that despite his servant being hated and unjustly treated, he exalted him at the right time to bring blessing to the nations, the salvation of many!
During lockdown, our daily prayer meetings continued and we prayed and wrote for the third time to our local neighbourhood council expressing our church’s desire to seek the good of the city. After the peak of the virus crisis, the President of the neighbourhood organised a meeting between five counsellors and Forte Torre to make plans for the autumn. Give thanks for trust growing with the council and their imminent visit to our premises. Pray for wisdom regarding two projects under consideration, one regarding helping the elderly, another serving teens afterschool.
Sending our love to you and please do write and tell us how we can be praying for your fishing exploits!
JP and Sue x
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