John 19:30 records that when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. It was not the cry of surrender, but a cry of victory! These words rang throughout heaven and earth! Later on, the Apostle Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 15 “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
We serve a risen Savior! God the Father approved the sacrifice of Christ, as “He raised Him up and has given Him a name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is our hope, joy and mission. We live surrounded by people who do not recognize the immense and complete sacrifice Christ has accomplished.
Returning to Italy after a recent trip, I had the opportunity to speak to an American couple. They were planning to visit five cities in Italy – five places that seemed very random to me. They were not famous, nor close to each other. I asked them how they had chosen these places and they responded that they wanted to visit five churches where Eucharistic miracles had taken place. They went on to explain that when the priest blesses the wafer, the sacrifice of Christ is repeated, because the wafer becomes spiritually the actual body of Christ. In these five churches the “host”, because of the unbelief of someone present, had literally transformed into human flesh and blood, as documented by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church! When I told them that I taught the Bible and served as a missionary, their interest in continuing our conversation quickly disappeared and they went to sleep. What a blasphemy, to believe that Christ must die again each time the mass is repeated!
We serve in a country where most do not believe that the work of Christ was sufficient. For the last two months, we have gone out with the believers of our little church and passed out tracts that we have written. We are encouraged to see that people do take them, and we trust that God will use the Gospel message to attract His own to Himself. On the tract is the address of our church and the times we meet, so please pray with us that God will draw them to come and hear more about Him.
Anna came as a result of our first distribution. What an encouragement to see Anna come to the ladies’ Bible study. Loredana was teaching that day on the “Love of God on the Calvary.” Anna listened carefully and seemed interested, but had a concern: she did not believe in hell or that anyone goes there. Loredana promised to take time in the next Bible study to teach from the Bible about hell. Anna returned the next week and listened, but seemed unconcerned about what the Bible says. She cannot believe that a loving God would ever condemn anyone. She did not return this week, but our prayer is that God would use the words she heard to stir her heart. Pray with us for Anna.
David has finished a four-week course on evangelism during our weekly Tuesday night Bible study. All those who can (which are most of the church!) come to listen, for they eagerly want to learn how to present the Gospel more clearly to their families and friends. They are all writing out their personal testimonies, so they can make sure to be prepared when they have the opportunity. Next week we will take the whole Bible study time to pray for unsaved friends and family members whom we desire to reach during the rest of the year. Our goal is to pray regularly that God will open their hearts. Will you pray with us for these people?
Millions will come to Italy in the next months. Over 20,000,000 people from all over the world are expected to come to Milan for EXPO 2015. Many will come from countries where the Gospel cannot be preached. So we are preparing two evangelistic booklets that will contain the Gospel in five languages! We would like to have 100,000 copies of the first tract for distribution. We are now working on its content and on finding those who will do the follow up in the other languages. The second pamphlet will be similar, but for a different group of people. The Roman Catholic Church has announced that there will be an extraordinary Jubilee in 2016. During this time, over 22,000,000 pilgrims are expected in Rome, promised that if they go to the five basilicas and pray the right prayers, they will receive plenary indulgence. In other words, all their sins will be forgiven committed up to that time. We will keep you informed as our plans continue. Will you pray with us that God will give us wisdom as we plan for these events?
We are so grateful that Christ has given us the privilege to serve Him here in Italy. A newsletter is not sufficient to share with you all the Lord is doing in us and in our ministry. We know that we are here because of His grace, and that He is encouraging us through your prayers and financial support. We serve a risen Savior, we are certain of our eternal destiny, and we must share the Gospel with a world who needs it desperately!
Your co-slaves of Christ,
David and Loredana
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