I’m often asked why I don’t have a Facebook profile. I enjoy occasionally viewing Tia’s account and am glad she has it. It is a great way to exchange information and stay in touch. On the other hand, it just doesn’t appeal to me on some level. Maybe it’s the introvert in me. Maybe it’s because all the social media and news media outlets run together and create a kind of “things I may need to be aware of” overload, and it’s hard to stay on task. Maybe I just need to stop overthinking things and create an account. But…I think I’ll hold out a little longer. 🙂
The first weekend in May, Jeremy and I taught an all-day seminar in Vicenza on servant leadership for the men from the nearby Ghanaian congregations. There were 28 in attendance; the largest turnout we have had for these seminars. We explored the scriptures as the source for understanding true leadership, stressed the need for preparation and spiritual growth, and looked at the faith and character of some of God’s leaders in Scripture.
We also used this seminar to discuss an idea some of us have been praying about for some time. Lord willing, in August we will start a part-time Saturday Bible School in English at the Padova church building. It is designed specifically for Ghanaian men and women, though all English speaking Christians are welcome. A typical daily Bible school designed to prepare for full-time ministry is not possible given the current socioeconomic circumstances of the Ghanaians here. The goal is to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures, to provide training in personal Bible study and to help develop Christian character and ministries in order to strengthen the surrounding congregations. The name will be “Latreia Bible School” based on the idea of cultivating our “reasonable/rational service” (Romans 12:1). We want to help mature this lifestyle characterized by informed, deliberate, loving service to God and others as Paul elaborates on in the rest of Romans 12.
The school will provide 120 classroom hours divided among 6 classes each year. We also hope to have three levels (years) of study with a certificate of completion at the end of each year. We expect that there will be 10 to 15 people enrolled in our first year, including a Japanese sister. As you may be aware, many Ghanaians here do not speak English or Italian proficiently. So another objective is that, in future years, the most capable Ghanaian men can teach the previously completed levels in their native dialect. We want their learning to become something they can duplicate and build upon…ideally even in other European congregations. Please pray that this program will grow.
Our two summer interns, Katie and Kathy, arrived the latter part of May. They were part of Harding University’s Global Outreach program. It was the first year we have hosted interns, and we grew quite attached to them. They were excellent workers with great attitudes and it was hard to let them go. Thanksto them, we developed a friendship with their landlords, a family with two children close to Ameleah’s age. They invited us one day to their summer home near Venice and have visited our worship service a few times. Kathy and Katie also helped with cleaning and painting at the church building, sat in on our midweek studies, took Italian language classes, taught English using the Bible, assisted Tiawith the children’s Bible class and an English play day for children in our neighborhood, and helped us host the Harding Chorus.
The Harding Chorus was a blessing to the church. Though the venue we had found for them cancelled their performance, we were able to host them in our small building with short notice. There were a few guests present, and we are still following up with a couple of them.
Tia and I were blessed to have Ken and Terri Graves and Shawn Daggett in our home since they were travelling with the chorus. Some of you know they were foreign missionaries for years and currently teach in the Center for World Missions at Harding. Shawn and his wife Donna lived in Bergamo, Italy and have always given us a lot of encouragement in our work.
We are happy to report that on June 15th, we attended the first worship service of the new congregation planted in Bassano del Grappa. Several brethren from nearby congregations were present to offer their encouragement. The Lord generously allowed our plans to come together, and we found a convenient meeting place with two classrooms to use twice a week for about $200 per month. It will take some time for all of us to get used to the change. Tia and I will continue to worship with them at least once a month, as will Jeremy. Daniel and Melanie Lopez and their boys in Aviano will also visit when possible. One of the brothers from Bassano made the comment, “we have a lot of work to do; now I see how much we were not doing before”.
Other activities include: a visit from Jim and Jane Cox, a Let’s Start Talking couple in Florence; visits with another LST team in Vicenza (where I unexpectedly saw one of my students from last year at Harding); a two day Ghanaian youth retreat in Vicenza where I spoke on peer pressure; and at the end of the month, Ameleah and I left for the summer Bible camp.
I’ll close with that and give you the details of the camp and other activities in our next report. Ameleah and Davis are enjoying their summer break, though Ameleah’s school gives her plenty of summer homework to make sure that she will not enjoy the break too much. Our teammate, Jeremy, is currently in the States on his reporting trip and will also be seeking additional funds. Please continue to keep him and all of us in your prayers. We appreciate you so much. The Lord bless you in the coming months!
In His service,
Jeff, Tia, Ameleah and Davis
1. Leadership seminar in Vicenza
2. Latreia Bible School announcement
3. Ameleah and interns Katie and Kathy at teen Bible study in Vicenza
4. English play day with interns
5. Kathy and Katie helping in children’s Bible class
6. First worship service in Bassano del Grappa
7. First ladies class in Bassano del Grappa
8. Harding Chorus in Padova
9. Ghanaian youth retreat in Vicenza