For years I have been praying that God would show me how He wants me to serve Him and for years He has been telling me to finish the mission I am on. That mission is loving, teaching and providing for the four beautiful children he has blessed Val and me with. So being a faithful believer I have focused on the current mission. Through all this there has been a persistent feeling that there was more in store for me as the current mission is winding down.
Then in March, I cashed in a Christmas present from my family, a 15 day visit to Rome, Italy. A trip that has been a dream for as long as I have been a dreamer. I saw this as an opportunity to drink in a City and it’s people that I have read about, viewed in pictures and observed in movies so many times that I sometimes felt as if I had been there before. Rome did not disappoint this visitor, in fact Rome captured my heart and called out to me to stay and become a Roman. However there were a couple of problems with this idea, the first being that Val was not at my side and then there was that unfinished mission waiting back in Georgia so to the airport I went.
Before I left for Rome, a friend Arturo, had asked me to make a personal delivery to a friend of his currently doing missions in Rome, I did not ask what the item was, I just accepted the package and granted the request. Arturo provided me a name, address, email and cell number for his friend Joe and said he had let Joe know I was delivering the much anticipated package. As the finale Sunday of my visit was approaching I thought I had better get this package delivered, so I mapped out Joe’s location and sent an email asking if it was okay to deliver the package on Sunday afternoon. I did not receive a return email advising one way or another if Sunday was good, but decided to go to Joe’s anyway and if nothing else just leave it in his mailbox or door, some place just so I could fulfill my commitment to Arturo. Sunday came and off I went, Joe lives just north of the Vatican so I planned to be in St. Peter’s square in the morning to hear the Pope’s weekly public address and then go onto Joe’s. Finding Joe’s home was easy and so was ringing his doorbell, understanding the confusion in Joe’s voice when he answered the intercom was a different story. It seems there was some disconnect between Arturo saying he would let Joe know I was coming and Joe actually receiving and remembering that part of the scenario. As it turns out Joe and his wife Mary are two wonderful missionaries doing God’s work in Rome, and fourtuntly they are not that fussing about who they invite in. So having been granted admission I was able to explain who I was and why I was there, he had received my email but was clue less as to why so he ignored it. Oh yes and I delivered the package, a CD with pictures from a visit to Spain where Joe and Mary met and interviewed Arturo, they wanted to add a youth leader to their mission team in Rome and Arturo was recommended for the job. What followed this awkward introduction is what I really want to share with you.
I stayed several hours with Joe and Mary, though my intent had been to simply deliver and run. We had lunch, spoke English, shared stories and I was moved by these two Americans doing mission work in Rome. As a matter of fact when I finally did leave, only because they had to go to a meeting and kicked me out, I had an experience that is now changing my life. I was touched by God that day on a street in Rome, so much so that I had to stop and lean against a pole to remain upright, I stood there for about 40 minutes trying to understand the message God was sending me. What I came away with that day was that God wanted me to go back home and work on behalf of Arturo in his fund raising effort for his planned mission to Rome.
It was not until Saturday, September 18, six months later, that I figured out what God’s message to me that day had really been. God gave me time to figure it out on my own but I was missing His message, so as He does when we fail to understand Him correctly, He sent a messenger to help me get it right. The messenger this time was my wife, Val. She was at our Church preparing her Sunday school lesson and I stopped by to see how she was doing and to support her with my company, believe it or not she likes my company, she read to me part of her lesson, knowing it would be meaningful to me. You see she knows I have been praying and trying to workout just what it is God has planned for me to do, in service to Him, a question that has been nagging at me for a long time now. After hearing the message God sent through Val the picture became very clear and the fact that I had misunderstood the message in Rome was also clear.
It was me God was calling to serve in Rome, it was God working through my family, and their Christmas present to me, and my friend Arturo that put me at Joe’s doorstep, I was blind to this until yesterday when a simple parable from the Bible, God’s words to us, made it all so clear. And the messenger God choose this day was the one person most trusted by me.
I want to make one thing clear here, this new revelation in no way diminishes Arturo’s calling to missions in Rome, nor my pledge to support him, in fact God willing I will be able to support him and his family first hand in Rome.
Now that God has provided me the clarity I have asked for, He has put the ball squarely in my court and I must respond. Val and I are moving forward to answer this calling and we are asking for your prayers. I will provide a journal of this journey through this website, please follow along; your companionship and support are vital to our success.
God be with you, your friend in Christ, Mark