October 5th to November 9th
Incredible connections and kingdom advancement!
When I first set out to serve in Europe more than thirteen years ago, I was as scared as a rabbit. Especially since I didn’t know any Italian, stuck in a low rent pensione rooming with Balkan refugees and Romanian hookers.
We’ve come a long way from only knowing one name in one city to where now I move freely in much of western Europe with hundreds of friends in at least ten countries. I make the joke that I have seen more of Italy than people who have been born there. I have been from Cuneo to Venice and Trento in the north to Pescara and Napoli in the south as well as Sicily.
At one time I served in Croatia, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Romania, Hungary and Holland but more recently I concentrate on establishing relationships in four regions, Italy on the south, Norway on the north, the UK on the west and Slovenia on the east. In the last four years this is where I have mostly hung my hat and have found working relationally with the same people and ministries has allowed me to be more effective.
On October 5th I will fly out of Charlotte with my friend Peter Boghdadi. I met Peter in a parking lot as he was going from person to person trying to sell perfume and cologne. What got my attention was the big (I mean BIG), “JESUS” in the back window of his car. As we engaged in conversation, Peter took out his phone and forced me to listen to his recorded testimony of how he was born with cerebral palsy all the way to conversion to Christ. His parents were told by doctors not to expect too much. Peter does drag himself a bit as he is paralyzed on the right side, but he uses his disability as a bridge to sharing his faith. Peter went on to get his Masters degree in Mental Health and works as a counsellor. Born to first generation Egyptian immigrants, Peter grew up in the Coptic faith but now has a confident salvation through a relationship with Jesus Christ. This will be his first mission trip.
We will fly together to London, switch planes, and go on to Oslo, spend a jet lag/tourist day there, and then on Friday we’ll go on down to near Tonsberg where I will teach at Smyrna Bible Institute (Kraftskolen) until the following Saturday, the fifteenth. While there I will also be preaching at several churches and doing several nightly evangelism meetings at the end of the week.
More NEWS from Norway
I am so excited about this possibility and anxious to share it with you. About two years ago I became acquainted with NORMISION’S Ga Ut Center (Lutheran). My friend Gerson Celeti, a friend of Bethany and teacher there, introduced me to Johannes Redse, the Headmaster of the center. In our discussions I was able to suggest an alliance with Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte. After a couple of emails I had Simon Brace, a South African working at SES, connected to Johannes of Ga Ut in Oslo. By God’s grace, someone donated some extra funding this year and so I am using some of it to bring Johannes over to Charlotte when SES hosts its annual apologetic conference. Though I will still be in Europe at the time, I believe this is a huge step of advancing evangelism and mission in Europe. I’d love to be a fly on the wall.
As soon as I put Peter on a plane headed back to the US, I will race down to Rygge in Norway and meet up with about eight Senior class students who will travel with me by plane to Venice, then by train to Trieste, Italy and finally on to Ljubljana, Slovenia where we will bunk in with Pastor Chris and Sabina Scobie and the good friends at BINKOSTNA CERKEV CENTER (Pentecostal), the largest evangelical church in Slovenia with just one hundred members. In all of Slovenia, a nation of 2,000,000 persons, there are only one thousand Christians. We will be there for Sunday morning to share with them and encourage the believers and then for the next few days make ourselves available in whatever way we can. We will leave for Parma, Italy on Wednesday, the 19th.
I will be leading these Norwegians on into Italy and travel about nine hours by rail through Venice and Bologna to Parma, my hometown! There we will meet with the young people on Thursday night and then on Friday night and Saturday all day we will take part in an apologetics conference with guest professors from Southern Evangelical Seminary. All of this will be hosted by Progetto Archippo, our ministry training school in Italy.
Early Sunday morning I will hustle the Norwegians over to Milan on the 5:28 train. They will then catch a flight back to Norway.
Part of my main ministry is linking ministries in personal and corporate friendships, so hopefully I will see reciprocal arrangements whereby teams from Italy and Slovenia make their way up to Norway.
On the weekend of October 23, one or more couples from London should be arriving in Italy. I am anticipating seeing Tano and Angela Bellone, but should they not make it, I will see Brad and Julia Frey (ACCI missionaries from Port Alberni, B.C.). Brad and Julie are called to Italy and serving in London for two years until they can qualify for EU status. Once they have this, they will be able to live and work in Italy. Working will give them status, legitimacy and cultural access in the country.
It is their plan to spend the following week meeting with myself and other ACCI leaders, surveying various possibilities for a church initiative.
On Monday morning, October 31st, I expect to travel to Manchester and then catch a train to Wales where I will stay a couple of days with former students and BCOM graduates, Nate and Ali and their three children. While they live in the UK, they work in the Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia) with strong ministry relationships in Norway, so we will explore possible ways we can cooperate.
After a few days I will train down to London where I will meet with the leadership of Eltham Green Community Church and guide them through a few days in leadership development meetings. No doubt, as I always do, I will be preaching both Sunday services.
Before returning to Charlotte on Tuesday morning, I will explore what it might take to establish an ACCI board and presence in the UK. If we are able to do this, it should mean that we could more easily facilitate the placing of American and Canadian missionaries on the continent, which is becoming increasingly more difficult.
While I am doing all of this, Jeanne will be traveling to Minnesota to spend time with children and grandchildren as well as call on our friends and ministry supporters there. She will be there for nine days in October.
Thanks for your continued prayer, encouragement, and financial support. Tony (and Jeanne)