The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’ John 3:29 – 30 

Where is our joy? It surely is in the news that the Bridegroom has come. John the Baptist recognised Jesus as Israel’s long-awaited groom, selflessly rejoicing to see that day. And this groom will return! He will not delay endlessly to bring in that wedding morning – the Christ we love will come. How we, his friends, want to be ready for the return! How we want our Bolognese contacts to have their vessels full and lights burning to welcome his return too. The day of dining at Jesus’ banquet awaits many. We pray that like John the Baptist our ‘lamp’ will increasingly light the way for others to come to him. This month we write to you about our fragile flames flickering in the dark city of Bologna.

Our silver wedding

This summer we celebrated the milestone of being married for 25 years. Grazie Gesù! We give thanks for the Lord’s goodness to us and all that we have learnt about him in married life. We made the most of the occasion by inviting several contacts and friends to a local restaurant to celebrate. We had such a happy time and were able to share something of the Father’s loving faithfulness in sending Christ to win and form a spotless bride for himself. A small number from Forte Torre joined us in ‘fishing’ during the evening. 

Give thanks for all the conversations had over dinner and for the freedom for both of us to speak (before cutting the cake)! 
Please pray for our friends who came, that through our/Forte Torre’s testimony the door would not shut on them on that final day.
Give thanks for the joy of Sue’s parents who also celebrated 60 years of marriage and had a similar celebratory event back in the UK.

Studying Hebrew

For a few years now, JP has contributed to a useful preaching conference organised by fellow Crosslinks missionaries, C and M. Through contacts made at this conference, JP has been able to extend the Applicazione course to a wider audience and is now teaching Hebrew weekly in conjunction with IBEI (a tiny evangelical institute in Rome). Also, in early September, one IBEI lecturer (A) came to contribute to Applicazione, teaching at Forte Torre on the Minor Prophets. It has to be the first time in Italy (in 13 years!) that I, Susan, have heard someone other than my husband explain the Scriptures with the same zeal and careful attention to the Hebrew text. It was a joy to see the treasures the Spirit intended when he inspired the writing of the minor prophets. We were grateful that our own Hebrew class students could see the importance of studying the biblical languages.

Please give thanks for A and his service at IBEI and pray for the institute’s work in offering both residential training and correspondence courses. 
Give thanks for around 25 people signed up to JP’s weekly Hebrew course. Please pray that long and slow investment will result in careful and faithful exposition of the Old Testament Scriptures across Italian church pulpits in years to come.
Pray for perseverance, diligence and good fellowship with students nationwide, giving thanks that one student (here for one year) has bible translation in mind. Who would have thought a Hebrew class held at Forte Torre could have such ripple effects beyond the borders of Italy! 
Give thanks for bridges being built with Roman Catholic contacts interested in Hebrew. Pray that their hearts would burn by the power of the Spirit as they meet Christ in Old Testament scriptures. 
Give thanks that ‘we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which we will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts’ (2 Peter 1:19).

The ongoing bureaucracy

The intricacies and contradictions of Italian law continue to make life rather difficult and complicated for the evangelical church in Italy. This is made worse by a certain individualism and stubborn reticence in many churches to engage with the state. We at Forte Torre are trying to do everything to meet new legal obligations, in registering our existence as a religious (and cultural) organisation, working hard to collaborate with neighbouring fellowships so as to present a united response.

Please pray for clarity and unanimity within our fellowship for the decisions that need to be made and their financial implications, so that we can close this long bureaucratic chapter.
Please pray for an Italian church ready to engage meaningfully with their communities, cities and national authorities, wherever they are present in the country.  
Please pray that through the work of ‘Alleanza Evangelica italiana’ (Evangelical Alliance), the Italian state will, in time, give formal recognition to evangelical churches.  

Sending our love and praying that you will keep your lamps burning, ready for the groom to return.

JP and Sue xx

Prayer points

Praise God that the groom will return and pray that we will have our vessels full and our lamps burning to welcome him.
Pray that our friends who came to our wedding anniversary celebration will be ready for the return of Christ as a result of our testimony and the door will not be shut on them.
Pray for the long and slow investment in Hebrew study, so that there will be a generation of Italian preachers who expound the Old Testament faithfully, so that hearts burn as they meet Christ.
Pray for churches to want to register formally and shine as stars in the communities where they live. Pray for the state to recognise the evangelical church.

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