More inspiring news from ACCI and Progetto Archippo in Italy

We have a terrific team in Italy and it is growing all of the time. In Trieste we have Caleb and Linda, Citta di Castello, Luke and Dawn, Parma Aldo and Mariela as well as Francesco and Alessia. We also have Alessandro an Italian from Palermo who  works in Italy and South Africa. Soon, Brad and Julia will find their spot. But seeing ministry grow and people coming to faith isn’t the only good thing going on, the church is also being strengthened by people like Luke and Ann Hinrichs who make trips encouraging believers. More recently we have partnered with our friends from Southern Evangelical Seminary and now we have another five to seven leaders taking part in our work in Parma. Just recently the Director of Progetto Archippo, Francesco wrote with encouraging news. Progetto Archippo, a ministry training center (supported by about fifteen mission agencies in Italy)  began  about two years ago with most of the attendees coming from our local church, Gruppo Crisitano Latino Americano but now we are seeing a big change where believers from other churches and communities are becoming involved.

Francesco, Director of Progetto Archippo

Look at what he writes in an email received just yesterday… I quickly share some good news…  The last 2 seminars of Archippo finally paid themselves. I’m confident this trend will be confirmed with the next ones…  The number of participants from other cities has increased (12 last seminar).

Yesterday I held a short seminar on evangelization at a Brazilian church in Reggio Emilia. They want to reach Italians and needed basic apologetics training. It was very good and said they’ll call me again.

In January (Pastor) Aldo and I will go to Sicily where I’ll hold a seminar on basic apologetics and multicultural evangelization and Aldo will talk on Sunday morning. We hope this will be the first one of many we’ll organize in Sicily.

After many years of thinking/praying about it we finally have a Christian group at the University. I contacted my friends at GBU (Intervarsity), gathered the University students of our church and we had 8 people at the first meeting. A promising start.

We’ll try to organise a public seminar in January when a group of SES students will be visiting with Simon Brace.


Ted, me and Simon

Just recently Jeanne and I had lunch here in Charlotte with Ted W. and Simon B. two leaders from Southern Evangelical Seminary. We discussed future developments in our strategies to reach Europe from Oslo in the north and Parma in the south.


To learn more about ACCI: Visit

Southern Evangelical Seminary at:

Progetto Archippo at:

Meet the lads…

Dan, Tano, Brad, Sam and John

It is interesting that boundaries from country to country, denomination to denomination vary widely as to what constitutes a “good” Christian. In some countries like Norway, among my present associates there is no drinking, no smoking and so forth, while in Italy, wine and beer with supper is quite normal and then in England one may go so far as to have  Bible studies in the local pub with a Guiness in hand (this makes it slightly difficult to turn the pages of their Bibles). Of course these observations are only generalities but this what I have encountered. I don’t know quite what to conclude so I don’t criticize any spiritual mores as long as believers are kind and exhibit Christian disposition, character and integrity. When it comes to lifestyles, I have seen very severe believers that were quite holy on the outside but on the inside as nasty as could be. Jesus, Paul and the New Testament are all pretty clear about what boundaries matter. The overiding  principle is not to cause another brother to stumble and Paul said that if eating meat would cause his brother to stumble he wouldn’t touch it so long as he lived.

The Pharisees were very insistent on the details concerning certain observances, like special days, washings, cleansings, dietary laws and the like. Though strong drink is indeed dangerous (I am not advocating drinking at all), Jesus on the other hand made it clear that foods and drinks didn’t defile a person but rather that which is on the inside – that which came out of the heart. Paul went on to say that the kingdom had nothing to do with what a person ate or drank but the kingdom was actually a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost. The kingdom was not a matter of hair splitting over religious specifics.

Now, I say all of this because, while I am not an ale or stout drinker myself, some of my English brothers are and so we spent a couple of hours at the Tudor Barn discussing the matter of extending the gospel to the citizens of Eltham. All of this was done over a pint or two.

Leadership and Vision Seminar, Etham…

Leadership Seminar at the Tudor Barn

One of the reasons I came around this way was to do a seminar on Leadership. Pastor John Watson picked me up at Eltham Station, took me to house, fed me a good supper and while he was out, his wife Janna and I laughed our heads off watching comedians Brian Regan and Tim Hawkins  – if you haven’t seen these guys, you need to Google or You Tube them immediately. I can’t think of two funnier people and apparently Janna thought so too. No one I know of laughs as hysterically as Janna does. The next day she could remember almost every line.

My watercolor of the Tudor Barn

On Saturday at ten we came together at the Tudor Barn for the seminar. There were about twenty in attendance. It is my guess that many greatly benefitted from the ideas presented as there was good interaction and feedback.

On Sunday morning I preached at the Eltham Green Community Church. It was a good time of worship and then following the service I treated ACCI missionaries Brad and Julia Frey (Brad is the youth pastor at Eltham Green and the Frey’s are candidates for Italy in about a year) and former BCOM students Tano and Angela Bellone. We were joined by guests Tom and Marcy McEvoy. Marcy is the daughter of Luciano and Marlene Cassandro of Parma, Italy. Luciano and Marlene are very dear friends in the Gruppo Cristiano Latino Americano congregation.

Eltham, Sunday morning

It was great to see Tom and Marcy again after about a year. I last saw them when they were married at a Villa outside of Parma last year. You can scroll back to the story and photographs of the entire affair on this site.  I was honored to be invited to preach the wedding sermon on that occasion. They obviously went to some trouble to come around to Eltham as they live some distance away.

The lunch crowd

Another of the things I love to do is connect people so now we have an entire network of new relationships between McEvoy’s,  the Bellone’s, Frey’s and Watson’s. It’s been a good day and I finish up tonight meeting with some of the guys at Tudor Barn as we have a drink and go over the weekend events.  

A quick stop in Chester…

The city center

On my way to London from Colwyn Bay, North Wales, I stopped in for the night at the city of Chester, England. They had suggested that I might find some good paintable images there (lots of tudor) so I gave it a try. Nate drove me over in

Dedicated to Queen Victoria 1897

the morning arriving around noon. I took a room at the Best Western, Westminster just across the road from the train station. Since the day was rather cloudy, I did walk about but couldn’t find anything worthy of a watercolor but did find an interesting city with loads of people all over the streets. Though nothing remarkable, here are a couple of the images.

A voice crying in the wilderness, Zion Pentecostal Evangelical

To Colwyn Bay in Wales…

What you might expect

For at least three years the Ussery’s have extended to me a standing invitation to come for a visit. Nate and Ali (Greenhalgh) Ussery were my students at Bethany College of Missions in Bloomington, Minnesota. After a period of time living in Bawtry, near Doncaster in England, they have for about three years  lived here on the coast North in Wales. Nate continues to work in Balkan reconciliation so he spends time in Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and other nations of that ethnically and religiously divided region. 

Whar I'ad me bed

On Monday the 31st, I took a flight from Bologna, Italy to Stansted in the UK, caught trains, the underground, more trains and finally arrived at the Colwyn Bay station at around five in the evening. I was met by Ali and taken to the enormous home they share with her dad and mother Keith and Myra. The home sets straight across the road from the ocean so one might on a clear day see a hint of Ireland somewhere to the southeast.

In the morning after a good rest, we went out for a drive to see the countryside. Yes, Wales has a varied a beautiful countryside. I would love to have scheduled more time for photography. There are numerous and quaint hamlets at almost every turn.


The next day we spent time walking and stopping to pray at the UK’s smallest chapel. That afternoon Nate drove me down to Chester where I spent the night before boarding the train to London.


I arrived in London in a down pour and then had to navigate my way across the city to the other side and Eltham in the middle of rush hour. I have a word for you (especially older folks) don’t plan to do this with two suitcases. I lugged my cases in and out-of-doors and up and down one set of stairs after another. I finally made it to Eltham at around seven in the evening, then taken to Mike and Jane Haley’s for my billet. I sure needed a good sleep but I had eaten something that upset my stomach so for the entire night long I had no idea what to expect. I was up and down all night so I woke up exhausted and forced myself out of bed at eight, went over to visit Brad and Julia Frey’s only to find that I had to head back to the Haley’s and my bed. This I did and finally woke up after noon feeling much better.

“WeII, suppose we’ll know in five years.”

Socializing after a powerful service

Peter Ayling my mentor in my formative days could be slightly cynical. As an evangelist, I was always thrilled to report that this person or that received Jesus as their Savior to which he would often reply with this deflating line, “I suppose we’ll know in five years.” Like Peter, I’ve learned not to get too excited by visible results. Over the past forty years I’ve seen many people only make temporary decisions and have become lost to the kingdom (if they ever were really in it at all) along the way.

If we were to decide my effectiveness in Europe by visible results I would be a very productive Christian worker. Yesterday morning, for instance, I preached to about one hundred fifty people and at the time of active witness about ten people responded to a call for repentance and faith. Hopefully tears remain to be an evidence of earnest repentance but this cannot be trusted either as I have seen the emotionally unmoved, cold-faced decision maker stand firm while the one, almost hysterical regarding their sin has washed out. Good beginnings are never a guarantee of successful endings.

Anyhow, leadership was quite pleased with the message and response with some they had been praying for making a visible acknowledgement of their condition. “I suppose we’ll know in five years.”

Tor Erik giving testimony

Nevertheless, I doubt if preaching almost anywhere in America I would see this response from a single message in a group of this size so I am quite relieved to see that the Spirit of God appears to be moving, convicting men and women of sin, righteousness and judgment to come.

The Freys visit from London

The Frey's on Via Farini

ACCI appointees to Italy, Brad and Julia Frey along with their two children Mitchell and Vika came to Parma from London where they are presently serving Eltham Green Community Church. They are not only fellow workers but long time friends. I first knew them both when they were students at Bethany College of Missions and before they were married. Brad had come from Thunder Bay, Ontario and his future bride Julia had come from Russia where she had already obtained a degree in English so she arrived at BCOM language ready. Both were very capable and likeable students. In some ways BCOM was not as intellectually challenging as were their minds capable of grasping the material so it is my guess they didn’t have to log a lot of late nights cramming for exams. They are still ahead of the curve and seem to meet their goals both spiritually and temporally so when they finally said, we are ready to go to Italy I had little doubt they’d get there. For a number of years they lived on Vancouver Island, a place where Jeanne and I once lived for a short time. They were up the island at Port Alberni and served a church there for perhaps seven years or so. Once they had their call firmly fixed, they went to work clearing up their affairs, selling property and raising funding. What looked like it might a couple of years to do turned out to go rather quickly as I found a spot for Brad in London where he could work while establishing UK citizenship, something Brad had by legacy through his father. They arrived in London, took an apartment above the church and began working with the youth.

While Brad was busy with the church, Julia went off to more schooling and qualified herself in second language instruction which should give them what they need to start and English academy in Italy when they arrive to live there in about a year. Well, this is pretty much the story on how they made it to Europe and might be an encouragement to other readers who feel called but consider it is all too big a stretch. If people say, “Here I am, send me,” take faith and courage in hand, then doors of opportunity do open and God has His way of getting the called into the field. After all being a missionary does have something to do with faith. ACCI’s job is to do what it can to support these folks and keep them in the field. At any rate, it was fun to see them come into the sanctuary last Sunday morning.

Julia already met some of the ladies at an earlier retreat. Brad had been here before but was rather surprised to drop in on a church with almost one-hundred fifty enthusiastic worshippers in what is commonly known to be a gospel resistant, wasteland. Following the service where Ray Ciervo of Southern Evangelical Seminary was the preacher, we had lunch together at Pastor Cerasino’s home where Mariela did it again by serving fantastic pasta. There was a lot of English being spoken with Brad, Julia, Ray, Ted and Kent in the room. After lots of laughs we took photographs with the SES teachers headed off to nap or back to Abortivi’s house and Brad, Julia and kids back to their hotel.

Inside Trattoria Corriere

After a good rest we met the next day around noon. Monday is not always a good day to visit Parma. As most tourists discover Mondays and Thursday afternoons are quiet with many of the restaurants and stores closed. If you want to see the real Parma visit the city on Friday or Saturday nights between eight and

Typical Saturday mezzonotte

two in the morning when streets and restaurants are filled with thousands enjoying a passagiata. I originally thought to take them to Pepin for arrancini and carcioffi pannini but then considered it might be closed and the children would not take to a stand and eat restaurant. I suggested that we go to a terrific restaurant that features traditional Parmigiano fare. With its romantic and antiche interior Trattoria Corriere made a perfect impression for these “foodies.” I ordered for

Preparing Torta Fritta

them the much bragged about torta fritta (hot, puffy, deep fat fried sweet breads that you fill with fresh parma prosciutto, salumi and ham.) Along side is fromaggio di Parmigiano. Later they ordered tagliatelle for the children, followed by a veal dish with salad and eggplant (tasted much better than it sounds). Along the way we took some photographs. At around two they picked up their luggage from my hotel and went to the train and Bologna. I will see them again on Thursday of next week in London.