Congress Missione 2014, Pesaro, Italy
Thursday – Sunday, October 28 to November 2, 2014
With all of this we still managed to pack ourselves into Natasha’s little car and make our way back to Pesaro in time for the opening session of Congesso Missione 2014. The speakers for the weekend would be two Scotsmen, Lindsay Brown and David Robertson of Dundee.
The largest contingent were clearly those of the Reform persuasion with John Piper being referred to more than I care to hear but all in all the meetings contained good preaching and tons of useful information.
I bunked in with Francesco, who when not in a meeting was manning three booths at once, “Joni and Friends”, “Progetto Archippo” and “ACCI.” Francesco is well-known and made sure that I was introduced and included me in many conversations. This being said, the truth was I felt a bit like an outsider and even with many Americans and other English speakers in attendance I felt slightly out of my element. The conference did have a bit of a cliquish feel to it since many of those in attendance had come for many years. I particularly connected with three Southern Baptist (IMB) fellows planting churches in Napoli, Rome and Milano.
I kept my head down some and just stayed in the background absorbing the information with this prayer, “Lord, if for any unforeseen reason I have come here, I will not pursue anything on my own. I will not go about giving my resume’ and attempting to charm anyone to engage me. You will have to do it. I am in your waiting room.”
At the last, on Sunday morning, John Gilmore, respected life – long missionary and the event organizer came along side of me and asked my plans for lunch. We agreed to meet. I had no idea what he had in mind and hoped that he had no complaint for me. I had heard of him as early as 2000.
I thought him to be an exceedingly older man but it turned out that he was younger than me by at least twenty years. Francesco had pointed him out as he buzzed around the venue. I agreed to find his table and at 1:30 or so we sat down. I was really taken totally off guard. I knew that he, a rank Calvinist was as much committed to reconciliation as I and ACCI are. It turned out that while we disagree on “Soteriology” we are arm and arm on the need to face the headwinds of criticism in Italy and push for “one body” without compromising our core theological values. He thought of me and ACCI as a good partner for this.
After inquiring about our ambitions in Italy and who ACCI was generally, in a nutshell here is what he had in mind, we would like IM (Italian Ministries) to collaborate more closely with ACCI in the future. I could be wrong, but from my perspective this is an amazing opportunity that comes as a complete surprise. I am certain that the many years of faithfulness on the part of European Director, Francesco Abortivi had much to do with gaining favor and opening the door.
I left having felt some divine intention in my extending my trip to Europe long enough to attend this bi-annual interdenominational and inter-agency conference. It was well worth the extra expense and days spent.