I have been repeatedly struck recently with the important thought, or reality, rather, that ministry is so much more than just doing stuff, but that there is a goal to these little actions. We want people to see our lives, our ‘good works’, and glorify our Father in heaven. So I can actually have an impact in people’s lives if I seek it. I can go out and meet with people more regularly than I do and actually tell people about Jesus. I want to do this. I have been doing ministry for a long time and have mostly resigned myself to doing stuff in the background, not that I don’t like that stuff, I quite love it in fact, but now my ministry has a different focus.
Why do we do ministry? Is it not ultimately to show others the Good News and let the Holy Spirit work in us and others so that we can make disciples of Christ? And I want to see lives changed by the great grace of God as my life has been changed as is continuing to be so. I felt for a while that I will overall have little or no impact here as I am only in Rome for three months, compared to the others around me who have devoted almost a full year or perhaps an indeterminate amount of years. What could I do really? Why even try that hard? But really I have two more months to go above and beyond and live out the love I have been so freely given. I want to have a lasting impact somehow, and I am realizing that it would be foolish to settle for less. And that not so I can say, ‘I did this and I did that.’ That is dumb. But if I am not allowing God to use me to the fullest to bring others to Him, then what am I doing? I don’t just want to be a guy who was here and then left, I want to bring these friendships with me. Can all you guys just move here so I don’t have to go back? Anyway, real change can happen, and maybe, like the farmer who’s crops grow while he sleeps, I will see none of it. But I at least want to know that I allowed Christ to move in me to the fullest extent and that my time here will mean something on the eternal scale. I hope this doesn’t sound like I am flaunting the cool things I could get to do. I simply want desperately to be used in such a way that real things happen.
And here’s the song that is sticking with me recently. It’s long, but stick with it; it’s worth it.
Tim met Lindsey and I at the post office at 9 this morning. He had a day full of stuff for us, and a day full of stuff it was. I guess I should have said this earlier this week, but Tim and Rachel had a meeting on Sunday with the leaders of Kurios, the group that is in charge of many ministry things around town including the Saturday lunches. Tim and Rachel want, as said a while ago, to open a sort of reading room, as they call it, for the refugees who want to learn, read, grow to come and do such things. English and Italian tutoring, religious study, guitar lessons, that kind of thing. But the kicker is that wisdom dictates that they should not be like other missionaries who just swoop in and do their own thing, but rather get the churches in the city behind it and helping to start it; make it more about Italians doing this for refugees than Americans. This is key. So they had their meeting and all across the board the leaders were impressed with Tim and Rachel’s dedication to the church and respect for their operations in not just doing their own thing, but being willing to take the long road with them. Indeed, they have been waiting for six months for this sort of audience. That said, they all said yes, let’s get this thing started; find a space to open up a little reading room center.
Tim marked off an area in which they would love to see such a place for easy access. The three of us set out to wander the streets, going where the Wind would take us, and praying over any rentable spaces found. We found a few, some more promising than others, but we only covered about a third of the total are we wanted. We will go out again another time and continue the search. Eventually we wandered over to St. Andrews and did our usual lunch adventures. But this was still just the start of the afternoon!
Elisabeth is taking the weekend off again for various reasons and so Tim has been again tasked with gathering supplies and making a wondrous meal trying his best to mimic Afghan recipes he finds on line. John decided to come with us, which was great. I like that guy. Also we were going to be buying a bunch of food and carrying it all great distances and he freely offered the use of his arms, which we freely accepted. But before that we went to a Pakistani restaurant to eat lunch. John said some things and then food appeared. It was great. I didn’t know he was magic! John and I also ate some really hot peppers. The kind of peppers that taste good and then a minute later you are very warm and then a minute after that you have burning coals in your mouth. John said that I passed the test and I can now eat any kind of Indian or Pakistani food.
To do our shopping we stepped into a neat market area, complete with dozens of produce vendors and animal guts and parts on display for all. It wasn’t the cultural explosion of, say, the market scenes in Guatemala, but it was still pretty cool. We bought one vendor out of cauliflower and broccoli. And then, hauling our many bags, we took an old tram (the wooden seats and retro green outside kind of dated it) to Termini. I guarded the food while the other three went to go visit Marianna and get from her the bread that the bakery gives to her for free. She freely offered it and we freely accepted. So with bags of produce and spices and bread, John said goodbye and we made it to the church to get the preliminary things ready. By the time I got back home it was a little after five, so we put in a pretty good day…and a lot of walking!
My roommates had today off as a sort of Sabbath weekend so they and all of the girls went to Florence. So I get the place to myself.
One thing I did not think about coming here was how much time I would spend in front of this computer. I research prayer ministry stuff, I put Eli’s words into digital form, I look at guitar lesson things so that I can teach a Nigerian boy how to play, I write a year’s worth of words each day. I feel like two more months of this is going to destroy my wrists and my eyes. To you out there who sit in front of computers all day for a your job, I am impressed.
I can walk down the street to where the neighborhood meets the freeway and walk a great bridge over the train tracks and see far much more of the sky than usual. Sunsets are nice here.