Trip 38 / Entry 4 / Lake Como and Emily


Emily being Italian and taking a call

Emily being Italian and taking a call

I have a young friend in Milan serving with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I first met Emily in Budapest when I taught at a week-long YWAM DTS. At first I thought of Emily as just one more of the sixteen or so young people in the building. Then on the first Monday it was Emily’s turn to prepare lunch and after the morning sessions we all made our way upstairs to the kitchen where Emily was making fresh tomato sauce, listening to Andre Bocelli and stirring a huge pot of spaghetti with a wooden spoon. I thought, this girl is in Budapest but she has an undeniable Italian heart and as we got better acquainted this became clear. Since that time, more than five years ago, I have stayed up with her.

I do listen, see.

I do listen, see.

It turned out that I eventually connected Emily with other missionary friends in Italy the Dilles where she stayed for a while. Now we have other friends in common so it was quite unsurprising for her to get a text message from me asking, “What are you doing tomorrow? Do you want to go up to Lake Como for lunch?” This is the kind of invitation that a young, poor missionary could hardly resist and so the answer came back quickly and arrangements were made to meet at the train the next morning at 8.

ThougIMG_1952h Como is a must destination, in all the many times I had been in Italy I had never gone. We spent a couple of hours walking then stopped and had lunch overlooking the lake on an unimaginably perfect day.

IMG_1949The conversation mostly centered around outreach methodology and the nasty subject of raising support.


IMG_1963It was a terrific time and later that evening after she did her English outreach class we went to Restorante Da Oscar where we enjoyed an amazing meal.

IMG_1964Whenever I have opportunity, I try my best to do evangelism and since Oscars is one of those places where you are squeezed up to those at the next table we became acquainted with the English speaker who was curious about us. While we worked our way through my incredible Frutti d’Mare and Emily’s Tagliatelle con Salmone in creamy pesto sauce we shared worldview with Nicola.

Treating those who could not normally afford this sort of thing to a special dinner out is one of my ministry privileges. Let me suggest that when you go on holiday abroad you find out who might be serving in that area and invite them out. Both of you will be encouraged and blessed.

Trip 38 / Entry 3 / Milan, Italy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LionelIt didn’t go as I had hoped. Once and a while jet-lag will really leave me spinning. Arriving at Malpensa Airport at 7:30 in the morning, I took my own advice and tried to stay up all day until a reasonable time to go to bed. This should allow me to get onto the Italian clock.  I checked at my hotel by 10:30 but since my room wasn’t ready, I left my case and took to the street. I kept my eyes pried open by going for walks, drinking coffee, having gelato and eating supper.

At nine I turned in but to no avail. It was three in the afternoon, Charlotte time. I tossed, I turned, opened the balcony door, closed the balcony door and took benedryl but my mind raced. I suddenly felt completely isolated and even worse – stupid. Why am I doing this?  I could be in my own room at home. This bed is hard, the room small and the streets are loud. This isn’t a new experience for me but no many times you go through it, it never gets better. I should know the drill by now. I have often had moments of regret and anxiety.

Around one in the morning Italian time, I made the decision to call Jeanne and get her in my corner. She answered, we talked, she prayed, I hung up, put on my clothes and went down to the small lobby.

I had seen him earlier. Even in the brief encounter I recognized this young Filipino to be a believer so I asked him. Lionel was as bright as a penny while answering my question. He had been converted in Milan about two years before and attends the “Jesus is Lord” church, a largely Filipino congregation of some seven hundred people. The fellowship proved to be just the shot in the arm Io needed and an answer to prayer.

I realized that I had heard of this church before from Filipino friends that attend Smyra Bible Institute in Norway where I teach. As I mentioned one of the Filipino student’s names he looked it up on Facebook to discover that while Lhyn (yep, with an “h”) was in Norway and he in Milan, they had between them forty-eight mutual friends.

With this nice visit (better than benedryl) I went to my bed and fell asleep. I felt assured that all was well and that the morning would look different.

Trip 38 / Entry 2 JFK to Milan

I took my seat on the aisle and just got settled in when a spirited, young fellow in what appeared to be his early thirties came up beside me, motioned to the window seat and pleasantly said, “I’m your guy.” He was so cordial that I immediately smiled and made room for him to get by me.


Nathan turned out to be a graduate student at UConn and working as an electrical engineering for some kind of  tech company that produced a product he explained but I never really understood so I switched the subject to UConn’s two national basketball championships which he was happy to discuss.

He was headed to Milan and then by car to La Spezia on the coast where he would trouble shoot one of their products for the Italian Navy. He took out a very big textbook so I knew that I would not have him for long but once I asked him why he was going to Italy and what kind of work he did, he was obligated to ask me the same so I told him. He was curious.

I wanted to know where he came from and he said that he grew up on a  dairy farm and so we talked farming. I asked him about his academic journey and how he came to think he might like electrical engineering. I told him about my friends Stewart and Maureen Crozier who were also accomplished electrical engineers.

Tourist season has begun!

Tourist season has begun!

So I did all of this small talk to arrive at what I was directing the conversation toward. We also discussed love, marriage and family. This is when he told me about his girlfriend from Florida who was formerly married but now dating him. He said that she wasn’t religious but fairly conservative. I asked what her religious background was considering that many folks from the south are Southern Baptists unless they’ve been tampered with. He admitted that her parents are Christians but that she had been re-evaluating her faith. I assured him that she would likely go back at some point.

At any rate, I asked him if he had met her parents and he said, “only briefly” so I countered by asking, “Would you mind if I give you a small crash course on what Christians believe so when you do meet them you will be fore-armed regarding their belief system?” I got the green light and for the next thirty minutes, I gave him, “Plan A.”

It may take time but there is usually more than one way to skin a cat.

The First Step and Catherine

JFK to Milan…

Those of you who are Facebook friends already have a hint of what I am about to write so it will not be fresh news but I want to provide a little more detail. This may be a little long but when it comes to evangelism there may be something instructive.

As I waited for my Delta flight I took a seat in waiting area 37. As I arrived I noticed seven priests. I couldn’t help but notice that I might be flying with a rather large group of Catholics. I always know where they are headed. Even though our plane lands in Milan they will be on the first train to Rome.

Dying to find out, I asked the girl seated next to me, “Are you traveling with this group?” She was anxious to answer so in an unmistakable Irish accent she explained that she wasn’t actually from New York but lives in Jacksonville, Florida and works for Mayo Clinic but heard about the trip and asked to join. They were going to Rome for the canonization of Pope John XXIII and John Paul II. “Millions of faithful will be there!” I was tempted but did not challenge the notion of “Canonization of Saints.”

The conversation further ensued by my asking how long she had been in America and so forth. I took the conversation around to my many trips to Italy and Rome and how less than 8% of Rome attend mass on a regular basis. She was shocked by this fact so I went on to explain that Italy like most of Europe is Catholic in name only but when asked, most are anti-theistic. This led to her optimism how Pope Francis is changing all of this. Catholics are more enthusiastic than ever.

Frankly, it would be great if a Pope (any Pope) would step up to Saint Peter’s chair and call a spade a spade. Though healthy changes have taken place and I have to give credit where credit is due, not one Italian Catholic in a thousand could clearly explain the gospel and virtually none that I have met have any confidence of their own salvation. The truth is, the vast majority of those under forty are totally secularized and many are in fact, anti-theistic and anti-Vatican. They view the church as repressive and out of touch with reality.

I tried to be as positive and commending as possible but still hold to the Apostle’s doctrine and this would have worked until she trotted the old dog that St. Peter was the first Pope and Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdom. She attempted to prove her point by quoting scripture but I have been to this passage at least one hundred times so she was decidedly outmatched both by exegesis, logic and church history. Of course. like Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons sensible explanations matter little to those who have a misplaced security. The Imam, Elder, Bishop, Pope or the priest said it so it has to be true. I can’t afford to ask any questions and have to trust the system. She was clearly unnerved when I explained that the Rock was not Peter but rather revelation as the context grammatically demonstrates. Being conciliatory, I did point out that Peter did have the keys to the kingdom in the sense that unlocked the gospel in “Jerusalem, Judea and the utter most parts of the earth” but he was never the head of the church and there was hint of a Bishop of Rome or Apostolic succession until well after Constantine in the fourth century.

She went on to explain how she has a Presbyterian friend who had been seminary trained, ordained and a pastor but in his studies he became a Roman Catholic. This seemed to be her trump card until I told her the reverse is true a hundred times over. I pointed out that we mean something totally different when we talk about conversion or salvation. It is clear to me that most Catholics that I meet have been baptized, catechized and sacramentalized but they have not been evangelized. Oh, poor Catherine had gone down the wrong street and panic swept over her face as I pointed out that conversion in the Catholic context is baptism or restoration to the church. We don’t preach our church or our baptism. We preach Christ and him crucified. All people must have a supernatural experience with the Holy Spirit that comes through faith (trusting Jesus alone) and repentance. This is called being born again.

The conversation was amicable enough but it became obvious that almost every term needed to be defined before we could have a meaningful conversation.

This is my concern. I am happy to see that there is a new Pope who refers to the Bible – one who insists on change and being closer to what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Yet, I caution many evangelicals to take a wait and see attitude. I promote the idea of working with all who claim the name of Jesus and his finished substitutionary work on the cross regardless of the denominational family they are identified with. I state again that salvation is no more dependent upon association with a Protestant or evangelical denomination anymore than with a Roman Catholic or Orthodox. Salvation is in Jesus alone, plus nothing.

The popularity of Pope Francis in Italy is beginning to cause some evangelicals to think of compromising their Apostolic convictions. The principle question that should be asked by everyone is this, “What has changed in two-thousand years and why were the Apostles martyred?” The fact is as Paul said compromise is not possible and lost his head because of his position.  In  Galatians 5:11, Paul writes, “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.”

If the Apostle’s, martyrs and non-conformists would have just agreed with the Sanhedrin, Caesar or the Roman Church, they wouldn’t have been slaughtered into the millions. Did they misunderstand the unique doctrine of Christ and justification by faith ALONE and senselessly sacrifice themselves for nothing? I urge my Bible Christian friends everywhere to always hold the scriptures in high regard. Consider that conditions in the first century were little different than they are today. The price for loyalty will cost the same. “Buy the truth and sell it not.”

As we came to the end of the flight, one of the Catholic pilgrims was down on all fours in the aisle. It was apparent that she had lost something and desperate to find it. Almost immediately she holds up an earring and announced with apparent awe and these words, “That Saint Anthony really works fast!” For me, this was mind boggling and came close to discrediting every intelligent thing I had been staying to Nathan, my seat mate regarding a rational faith. His story is next and much shorter, I promise.

Trip 38

These shoes have taken me thousands of miles. Today the soles fell off and I had to let them go. They proved to be reliable friends along the way.


Slovenia, the Balkans, Norway and Italy

April 22 to June 10, 2014


Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Trip 38 / April 22 to June 10

Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Norway and back to Italy


The ACCI International Gathering 

IMG_1415cropApproximately thirteen years ago I launched ACCI and took my first mission trip to Italy. At that time I didn’t know any of the language except Buon Giorno and Grazie. I had few contacts and really no useful means to effectively share the gospel. Today, we have twelve full-time workers focused on gospel-resistant Italy and another seven in the European region. My primary call is to Italy yet I frequently visit Slovenia, Norway and accept invitations to other countries. In the process I have visited 14 countries and have seen many people come to Christ, churches and ministries launched, students prepared for mission and ministry,  missionaries / pastors encouraged and inter-church relationships established. Now, under the leadership of John and Amy Haley, Lauren Roth and Ann Hinrichs, ACCI has more than sixty missionary members on all five continents. Visit the ACCI website where you can get acquainted with our workers:

Your financial assistance has made the difference…

Street Ministry 2I have always had a number of  friends who have said, “We’ll be there financially to help you.” Most of these people have been people who Jeanne and I have served over these many years but others just showed up at the right time to give us a hand. This meant that I only occasionally had to worry about enough money for a place to sleep, travel, supplies or meals.


What I need now…


IMG_1046  IMG_1062


I haven’t always told you but when I was financially able I would give what I could spare  to others who are serving with less than adequate means. Many work at meager subsistence jobs so they have time to preach, teach, lead ministries or do outreach. Young professionals have given up lucrative jobs,taken residence in small apartments or above churches in order to make ends meet. Many pastors work at full-time jobs and pay for facilities and supplies out of pocket. Perhaps you have not been able to help on a monthly basis but you could give a one-time gift so that when I see a need I can assist these friends.  You can receive a tax-deductiblereceipt for the contributions you make. At the bottom of this page you will see how you can donate.

The ACCI Gathering...

The last weekend of May ACCI will host near Ferrara, Italy its first ever international get together. This will be an opportunity for many who have never personally met one another to get together for worship, prayer, relaxation, socializing and re-focusing. Please pray for this important event.

My ministry plan…

Slovenia and the Balkans, April 22 – May 10 

After what appears to have been successful prostrate cancer treatment, I will land in Milan, Italy then move immediately by train to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I will preach on Sunday in Ljubljana and then, with Pastor Chris Scobie,  make my way through the Balkans, preaching here and there as I go. As soon as I return to Slovenia I will go northwest to assist Andrej and Lidija in a new church planting project. We will return to Ljubljana for a Leadership Conference from May 7 to 10 w,here I will be one of the speakers. I will be joined by pastors from New Zealand, the UK,  Slovenia, Croatia Bosnia, Serbia and other Balkan nations.

Norway, May 11 – May 26

IMG_0239On Sunday, May 11th I will fly to Norway where I will teach First Corinthians at Smyrna Bible Institute. Sunday, May 18th, I will fly to coastal Volda in west central Norway where I will do evangelism training and reach out to university students.

Italy, May 26 – June 10

Jeanne will join me in Milan and we will travel together to the ACCI Gathering. Following the conference / retreat we will stay with Luke and Dawn Mann, ACCI missionaries in Citta d’Castello, Italy. We go on for several days to Martina Franca in Puglia (the heel of the boot), then will return to Parma for a weekend of ministry and finally fly home to Charlotte.


I’m like a lot of you out there. I say, “I’ll pray for you buddy!” But the truth is, I sometimes forget. I mean to do it but just forget. So then, I wonder, would a number of my readers write back, assuring me that I will be on your short-list? I promise you, I can tell the difference.

Financial assistance

You can help me encourage a good number of weary workers by giving to my fund at (Tony Hedrick, United States/Europe, Recruitment, Strategic Planning, Director). You can give online. It’s real simple. Go to the site,  look in the left column of the main page and there you will find US and Canadian donor links that with one click will take you to the appropriate on-line giving tools.

If you prefer to give through the mail by check I provide the addresses here:

In Canada: ACCI, 89 Auriga, Nepean, ON, K2E 7Z2

In the US:   ACCI, 141 East Main Street, Rock Hill, SC, 29730

Important information for those who donate by check: Remember, make your check out to ACCI but do not put my name anywhere on the check. Use a “Post-It Note” or a separate to designate that it is for my ministry project.