Thursday to Sunday, May 28-June 1, 2014
Sometime last year I suggested that we have a get together in Italy. Mostly, I thought this would consist of about a dozen Italian workers and some of our staff members. Well, before I got this out of my mouth, Ann had it on the griddle. Within three months Ann had assembled a team of Dawn Mann and Francesco Abortivi in Italy working with her on the idea. Soon, along with about seventy others, board members, missionaries, and ministry partners, I had an invitation to three days at Spiaggi Romea on the Adriatic coast south of Venice and near Rimmini . Not much later I was hearing of a large number of takers so in the end we had forty-eight adults and twenty-three children registered.
In all, over the weekend, we had representatives from eleven nations in attendance. On Saturday we had another twenty ministry partners in attendance. Many of these people I had not yet met so it was fun to see how much the work had grown since beginning in 2000, some fourteen years earlier. Besides the Canadian contingent where this all began, we had attendees from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, The United Kingdom, and The United States. In several respects, this was beyond my expectation! First of all, I never expected that ACCI would grow to this size and international influence. Secondly, I never suspected that people would be this committed to the mission and future of ACCI that they would go to such trouble and expense to come together in this way.
It was obvious to all that there was a tremendous supernatural affection that each member had for the others. From the first minute of acquaintance all seem to feel an affinity and shared purpose to advance the cause of Christ together. There was an authentic collegiality from the first day that only grew as the days went by.
If I died right now… it would have been more than enough.
Spiaggia Romea is a beautiful resort with everything one can imagine to do. Yet, the spectacular recreational options didn’t seem to attract people. Mostly, I found people in small groups huddled around tables, getting acquainted or visiting with those they already knew.
The meetings were filled with engaging personal and field reports followed by guided prayer where we were able to supportively gather around our fellow workers. There were amazing words of personal encouragement and lots of tears – the kind of tears that left all feeling refreshed and filled with joy. I am not allowed to share the details and anyway, it would all just take too long but the most important thing is that our hearts were knitted together in love.