It Has Been A Year May 14, 2014

Thanks for being at my side.

Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. Ezra 10:4

It is hard to believe but it has been one year since our first arrival here in Rome.  It has been some kind of year, WOW. I came with ideas and plans and as I sit here today I can say I have gained love and faith. God didn’t necessarily have the same ideas and plans as I did but He did have a plan and in retrospect I must say His was much better and I am glad to have learned that. 

Val and I have kept a journal where we share our thoughts each day. Val keeps telling me I should share my experiences with all of you and I keep saying it is hard to (at least for me) open my heart and share the emotions of daily life as a servant of God.  And honestly most of my journal entries are too long. So I will pick a few parts of a few entries to share with you.  

    I spent a several hours today with …. We had our deepest conversation yet about Jesus and the teachings of the Bible. Very open and honest. They are clearly desiring a closer relationship with Jesus ….  Good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. Love you, miss you and thank you for your understanding and love. To God be the glory. M

    Last night I went out with the Angel Squad to reach out to the Treasures (women enslaved in a life of prostitution) on Via Cristoforo Colombo and Viale Guglielmo Marconi.  I served as the “watcher.” The ladies of the Angel Squad go out in teams of two, the watcher goes with them but keeps a discreet yet safe distance and monitors the activity surrounding the visit. The driver remains with the car ready for a quick departure if one is needed. The ladies share God’s love with them as well as applicable  scripture, snacks, convenient toiletries, and information regarding local services that available to help them. It is a very simple and effect outreach. All but a few welcome the encounter and openly share their stories, none are in this situation by choice. They are glad to hear that God loves them, they feel that because of their life style God has/would reject them, so when scripture that tells the story of Jesus compassion for the lost is shared with them it gives them a glimmer of hope. You could see it very clearly in their body language. After each encounter the team records the context of the exchange and the name, country of origin and age of each Treasure. Many of the Treasures were know by the team from previous encounters, some asked for bibles in their native language so the team provides one, in cases where one was not immediately available they would get one and keep it until the Treasure is located again. Last night we had one where they had been looking for this Treasure for more than two months. She was very excited to receive her bible. None of the Treasures were Italian. To God be the glory. M

    I am going out Friday night with the ladies to reach out to trafficked women. Remember the Sunday night we had so much fun riding the buses coming home from Peters and we ran into a bunch near St. Paolo’s? Well that’s where we are going. We will be meeting at McDs at 10:15 PM. Another new road on my life journey. “Not all who wander are lost.”  M

    Good day at JNRC, the guys all know me now and know why I am there. I get a lot of friendly hand shakes, hugs and greetings, they know I care about them and their well being. Even those that were hostile in the beginning have now become friendly. M

    At bible study today we read the passion. I am thankful for this group and their faithfulness. I did not ask but during the prayer time one of the ladies said a prayed for you and our family in the US, and gave thanks for your sacrifice which has allowed for me to be able to be here and serve.  Several of the ladies were talking about volunteering at St Andrews where they pass out lunch to refugees, they mentioned the man that is always on the street selling scarves with the rolled up hat. Of course I had already shared with them about Nasim, so when I told them that was Nasim they were all excited. It’s a small world. Danielle sent me an email and said my phone should be here tomorrow (for those of you that don’t know my iPhone was stolen). Miss you, love you, and thank God everyday for you. ✌️M

    “He’ll be coming and going he had said. One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) C. S. Lewis 

    Today Nasim showed me pictures of his Mother and Father. He was so proud. He was able to have them sent to his tablet from his uncle in Atlanta. M

In a recently conversation with one of the men at Il Soggiorno the subject of why am I in Rome came up again (as it has many times before). He said, “I see you everyday in different places and you are always giving out food and cloths and things, why?” In response I told him that I was here to share with him God’s love, through my service and care for him and others.  He then asked me “well who cares for you while you are here, like when you were sick last week?”  

The answer that came to me, I am sure from the Holy Spirit, was first, God.  But, I add, there are many people in America that also care about you and me. And those people pray for us, love us, and support us with their hard earned money. Without them I could not be here to share Gods love with you.  This concept was difficult for him to comprehend, and in many respects it is hard for me to grasp as well. 

I can not express the gratitude and love I feel for those of you that have prayed for me, stood with me, trusted in me, and through your love and generosity have allowed me to serve our oppressed brothers and sisters in Christ. 

I have grown and learned so much this past year here in Rome and as Val and I go forward in our service to those whom God continues to bring to us throughout His Kingdom, we do so because of you and your partnership.  Your love and support humbles me.  Grazie Mille. 

In His Service,
Mark

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