It brings me great joy to report that the gospel ministry here in Milan continues to flourish by God’s grace. Services are well attended, the congregation is learning and memorizing the catechism, and we are regularly blessed with visitors and inquirers. Updates include:
In Italy, there is a common saying to describe the amount of time and patience it takes to accomplish something important: “Pian piano.” Literally, it translates as “slowly, slowly.” But the expression is used to mean something more along the lines of, “Slowly but surely” or “In due me.” I remember how my Italian teachers would use this expression whenever I lamented how I wanted to learn the language more quickly. They would usually smile with some appreciation for my zeal and simply say, “Pian piano.” In other words, “Just keep at it, and it will come. You can’t rush the process.”
On Sunday, January 6, 2019, I had the honor of being installed by the Consistory of Chiesa Riformata Filadelfia (the Reformed church in Milan, Italy) as minister of the Word and sacraments. Using an Italian version of the URCNA form for installation, elder Vittorio Calderaro read the form and gave the charge to me and the congregation.
FINALMENTE! By God’s grace, we finally made it to Milan! This came only two days after I was installed at Escondido URC as a missionary. We arrived on November 21. The following Sunday, the congregation of Chiesa Riformata ‘Filadelfia,’ which I will be serving as their minister, warmly welcomed us with a fellowship meal and festivities.
It’s been a long road to the mission field, but, by the grace of God, we are leaving on Tuesday, November 20. I have accepted a call from the Escondido United Reformed Church to be sent as their missionary serving in Milan, Italy.
Little has changed since our last update. We continue to wait for the Italian Consulate to grant us visas so that we can leave for Italy and labor in the country. They have held our passports since May 15 and referred our application to Italy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has yet to make a decision. This caused us to miss our scheduled flight of July 9. We have a new flight scheduled for August 21, but we will need to receive our passports with the visa in order to board the plane.
We ask everyone everywhere to pray. The Italian government is not generous when it comes to granting religious visas, especially to Protestant ministers from America who want to labor in a church that they (the Italian government) do not officially recognize. If the visa is delayed and/or denied, we will face some new uncertainties and challenges.