I should tell you from the outset, I’ve been especially contemplative recently. When we returned from our time in the States, we were immediately faced with some difficult situations. Thankfully, these were also accompanied by some unexpected encouragement. The past two months have brought a sudden acute awareness of God’s sovereignty and goodness.
Even as Christians who recognize the truth of the scriptures, we often allow our perspective on life to be dictated by personal feelings and cultural pragmatism. On one hand, this appears to be inevitable. On the other hand, we endeavor to study and discern the divine realities of life through the eyes of faith, knowing that only God has the truly accurate perspective on life.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that a study led me to Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. There are plenty of reminders that our walk in this world is filled with generally predictable experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant. Even so, we are caught off guard by those we face and are unable to comprehend their significance, sort through the emotions or determine the best course of action. If we are honest, even retrospect does not provide us the clarity we desire. Over time, these experiences may cause us to lose that youthful perspective that our life can have a meaningful impact. There is truly no human certainty that our endeavors will meet our expectations or have any permanence. These realizations alone should show us it is impossible to be captain of our own soul and end up anywhere satisfying (not to mention virtuous). However, praise God that living in Him we can know our experiences have meaning and our endeavors can be eternally gratifying…and virtuous.
Please allow me to share a couple of difficult situations, but limit the details. Two of our close Christian friends here have turned away from God. Though the circumstances were unrelated, both involve a conscious, unrepentant choice to leave the faith and live by their sinful desires. We are constantly hoping and praying that these choices will not be permanent. We know that practically all of you have friends and loved ones in similar situations. It is simply impossible to communicate the pain and sorrow it causes. Our other trying situations pale in comparison and are not worth mentioning. They only involve the everyday challenges of life.
The encouragement we received in the midst of this came from an unlikely place. You may remember Anna, a woman I baptized six years ago. About a year after her conversion, she expressed feelings of resentment that her life did not turn out the way she wanted, and she was angry with God. She stopped coming to studies and worship services. We have tried to stay in touch with her and have prayed for her ever since. In January, she told us she wanted to mend her relationship with God and has since been at every worship service and mid-week study. In addition to the joy this brought the congregation, it provided a tangible case that inspires hope and prayer that others will one day make the same choice.
We have also been encouraged by the friendship of Daniel and Melanie Lopez and their two boys. They are from Texas and stationed at the military base in Aviano. They recently extended their service there for four more years. Jeremy has been in close contact with them for a while, and they come to worship in Padova from time to time. Jeremy, Daniel and I are currently exploring more ways we can work together to build up the Ghanaian congregations in our area. Stay tuned for some exciting ideas we hope to nail down soon.
My studies with the teenagers in Vicenza have resumed, along with two other mid-week studies here in Padova, and I’m given Jeremy a break from teaching our Sunday morning Bible class. The meeting on January 6th that we mentioned in our previous newsletter went very well. Franco Verardi gave two lessons on “The Love of God” and did a great job. We had a crowd of about 45 English and Italian speaking Christians in attendance.
The four busiest months of the year are coming up. Tia is about to drive some women in our area to a weekend ladies’ retreat near Rome. Next month, we will both teach at the bi-annual European lectureship hosted by the Ghanaian Christians in Verona. The Vicenza church has invited me to speak at a two-day meeting. The Harding Chorus plans to sing in Vicenza and Padova in June, and we will host two missionary interns for six weeks. Then, Lord willing, Ameleah and I will attend the summer Bible camp. There is more, and we will send you the details as the events draw closer and plans are firmed up.
Tia and the children are all well. It finally got warm enough for a trip to a nearby park. We attached a picture that Tia caught of unexpected dinosaur attack. Davis has had a hard time readjusting to Italian pre-school, but it is getting easier for him. Tia’s parents, Charles and Pam White, have completed their move to Boise, Idaho. Quite a significant change after 37 years in France!
Let me close by emphasizing that we very much need and appreciate your prayers! God be with you all in the coming months!
In His service,
Jeff, Tia, Ameleah, and Davis Brauer
|Jeff, Tia, Ameleah, and Davis Brauer|
15 35010 Cadoneghe (PD) Italy
To the order of:
“Mabelvale Church of Christ”
“Brauer Mission Fund”
Fund mailing address:
Mabelvale Church of Christ
P.O. box 345 – Mabelvale, AR 72103
Photos: 1. Anna and Ameleah cooking together
2. Daniel, Melanie, Ramon and Raul Lopez from Aviano
3. Padova conference on “The Love of God”, January 6th
4. Ameleah and Davis facing a dinosaur attack at a nearby park