Dear prayer companions,
Thursday June 6th marked the first year since Cristina and I arrived in Perugia. We are grateful for God’s sustaining grace and for his guidance as we are striving to encourage and animate one another in this new and awe-inspiring endeavor to plant a confessional church in the city of Perugia (located in central Italy in the region of Umbria). There are a number of things for which we are particularly grateful.
Making friends. One thing we are learning anew it’s being simply present with people. Contemporary mission work requires this as it did for Jonah. The prophet arose and went to Nineveh that was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth and Jonah “began to go into the city, going a day’s journey”. As Jonah had to enter into the heart of Nineveh and as the One greater than Jonah came into the world, so I am seeking God’s guidance to enter into the heart of Perugia and Umbria. Just to make a couple of examples to explain how I am attempting to do this, Cristina and I joined a walking group and every Thursday evening we spend about one hour and half walking with other people living in the area; also, we are participating to a painting class at Perugia’s University in order to meet new people.
Evangelistic plans. In the effort to enter into the heart of Perugia, I’ve been thinking how to reach out to the city with the gospel. Because of its religious history and the legacy of people like Benedict of Norcia and Francis of Assisi or mystics such as Angela of Foligno, in general people in Umbria retain greater religious interest than more secularized places in Italy and Europe. This more religious atmosphere should be an advantage, so I am preparing to start a number of evangelistic endeavors. First, I hope to begin at some point in 2020 bi-weekly meetings at the center of the city. The plan is to have one week regular Bible studies on some portions of Scriptures evangelistically relevant such as the Gospel in Genesis, the Gospel in Ecclesiastes, Isaiah’s four Servant Songs, Christ in the Psalms, the parables of Jesus, etc. The following week there will be a regular reading group interested in the pursuit of spiritual classics such as Augustine’s Confessions, Pascal’s Pensées, Luther’s 95 Theses, Benedetto da Mantova’s The Benefit of Christ, Calvin’s Institutes, Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress, etc. Along with these permanent bi-weekly meetings, I am planning to have at least a couple of annual conferences, maybe more. One should be on some historical topic such as the Reformation in Italy, or on some theological subject considered historically, or on the theology of some important Italian theologians, etc. The other conference should be on contemporary relevant topics such as secularization, theology in a technological age, Christianity and Islam, the Family, etc.
The pleasure of learning afresh to be a pastor. Finally, I am grateful for a new opportunity to become a more mature Christian and a better pastor. Even if beginning a new church-plant at the age of 50 and after more than 20 years in the ministry presupposes that a man has a measure of maturity, capacity and experience, I am praying that I don’t take those things for granted and that I may again experience the gladness of seeing new growth in my own life and fruit in the life of the church, for the glory of God as well as for my own delight.
Besides what was said above, I would like to conclude with some other prayer requests.
After a year in a provisional meeting-place in a decentered area, we began looking for a new meeting-place for the church as close as possible to Perugia. The problem with Perugia is that it is built on a hill and it is not easy to get to the city center. It is not possible reach the center by car (unless you are a resident) and you need first to find a parking place and then to take a train, a bus, or an escalator. So we are praying to find a place in an area where trains, buses, and escalators intersect.
Cristina and I also need to start to look for a new home. The rented apartment where we’ve lived for one year was a provisional choice as it is too small so that – for example – we cannot exercise hospitality as we wish. Moreover, all our furniture and especially 2/3 of my library are still in Milan. Therefore, we are praying for guidance in this practical matter.
Last but not least, we ask you to pray for out sons Simone and Daniele and for my widowed mother Ivana, who continue to live in Milan.
On behalf of my wife Cristina and of the members of the Chiesa Riformata of Perugia, I express a felt sense of gratitude for your faithful prayers and generous support.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Andrea Ferrari.