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.

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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.

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To learn more about ACCI: Visit http://www.adventive.ca

Southern Evangelical Seminary at:  http://www.ses.edu/

Progetto Archippo at: http://www.tredispace.com/archippo/

SKILL TESTING QUESTION…

If the real Jesus – not the one religionists have invented – but the REAL New Testament Jesus had ten million dollars, what would he do with it?

The Parma Duomo

Well, this is a no brainer if there ever was one. Jesus would not be pleased.

Progetto Archippo and Southern Evangelical Seminary

Kent, Francesco, Ray, Ted and Moi

About four years ago we had the idea to start a missions training school in Parma.The Cerasino’s and the Arbortivi’s called it, “Progetto Archippo” after the admonition to Archippus in Colossians 4:17, ““Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Once you understand it, it turns out to be a good name for what they are doing here. You can find them on-line at progettoarchippo.org. Basically they have attempted to bring together in partnership about fifteen active mission agencies in Italy for the purpose of equipping indigenous believers for ministry.

Simon Brace

When John Haley (ACCI’s Executive Director)was visiting Jarrs in Waxhaw, North Carolina he made acquaintance with South African, Simon Brace Director of SES TEAM  Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte. While talking together, Simon learned of my involvement in Norway and Italy. Both Norway and Italy turn out to be strategic locations for the vision of SES’s mission vision in Europe. The SES mission focus is called TEAM ( Truth Evangelism and Apologetics Mission).

As Simon and I became friends we began to dream together and this month, October of 2011, two important things will have taken place.

SES Charlotte and Progetto Archippo, Parma

Perhaps fifteen nationalities

SES and Progetto Archippo partner to host an Apologetics Conference in Parma, Italy with teaching guests,  Ray Ciervo, Ted Wright and Kent Suter.

SES Charlotte and Ga Ut Center, Oslo, Norway

Johannes Redse

Then at the end of the month Headmaster, Johannes Redse of Ga Ut Centre (Normisjon), Oslo, Norway will visit SES in Charlotte during their annual apologetics conference when some 6,000 people will be in attendance. It is ACCI’s hope that we will be able to formalize a teaching and credentialing relationship between Southern Evangelical Seminary and Ga Ut, Oslo.

Why is apologetics so necessary in Europe? Why can’t people just pray and present the Roman Road, Bridge to

Kent teaching with Francesco translating

Life or Four Spiritual Laws? Simply stated, because people in Europe have no Christian memory and what Christianity they do have knowledge of is grossly distorted. They are not looking for answers in God. Ever since the Enlightenment and the age of reason, Europe has secularized. They are not asking the questions American missionaries are providing answers for. They have been impacted by the ideas of Darwin, Voltaire, Hume, Camus, Sartre and other anti-theists. Hence, they are totally unaware that Christians have intelligent answers regarding origins, ethics,  meaning and ultimate purpose of life. As Ray Ciervo said, “Apologetics removes the brush (misconceptions) that stands in the way of belief.”

Tables were filling up with pizza and conversation

Norwegian Tor-Erik with Ted Wright

This weekend, more than sixty people attended the SES Apologetics Seminar. The teachers were often peppered with bright questions from those in the audience that wanted clarification. It would be impossible for me in this brief blog to tell the reader of every occasion when the light went on and people “got it!”

Double or nothun, so to speak…

Read this great offer below…

1st Corinthians at Bethany

In less than a week Jeanne retires from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in order to join me in ministry. Immediately, we will go to Minneapolis for two weeks where I will teach Acts at Bethany College of Missions.

After returning home for a couple of weeks we fly to Oslo, Norway where, for two months, we will be serving in various Bible training centers, preaching in Pentecostal and Lutheran churches and speaking at two conferences – one in Bergen and the other in Bjorli. We have also been invited to make a ten day trip to Italy where we will join with Italians and Spanish in an evangelistic outreach. We have just launched our second congregation in Fidenza near Parma where I have worked for almost ten years. We’d love to have you invest with us in this venture to make more and better disciples.

Look at the offer that a long time friend and donor recently made.

If you haven’t already, what a great time to get behind us in monthly or one time giving. Because of this, we can encourage so many more pastors, missionaries, help churches and training centers as well as reach the lost.

Here is our proposal:

“For this year only–to provide matching funds up to $15,000.   You would go to your other support participants and explain to them that there is a possibility of receiving $15,000 of matching funds. Every extra dollar (above their normal giving to you) that they give up to $15,000 will be matched.”

Your gifts are tax deductible. For those who prefer to give on line go to www.adventive.ca . There, on the right side of the Home Page, you’ll find easy giving through Canada Helps or Pay Pal in the United States.

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

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

Entry 37 / Goodbye European Tour Twenty-Nine

On the hunt

That’s it… that’s all. There’s many more stories that I could tell but this is enough for now.

Entry 15 / Parma, Italy

After meeting with Pastor Rizza, Emile drove me the two and one-half hours from Trento to Parma (between Milano and Bologna). It was my idea to introduce him to ACCI missionaries and friends Aldo and Francesco.

Friday Morning… LB Arrives in Milano

Almost twenty-five years ago I had the privilege of playing a part in the conversion of former Minnesota Viking and Ottawa Rough Rider, Larry Brune. During and after his football career he and his teammate, Val Belcher launched the highly successful Tex-Mex Lone Star Restaurant in Ottawa, the national capital of Canada. 

After his daughter and wife, Leslie had visited Italy, Larry got in touch with me and asked if he might join me for a week and to this suggestion I heartily agreed so he arrived at the Milano Central Station where I met him. We had a nice Italian lunch of caprese, spinache and lasagna then headed right to Parma so he might go to bed and shake off his jet lag.

Entry 12 J and A Arrive

Parma and Fidenza, Italy

October 31, 2009

Jevin and Ashley Arrival 10 31 09 002
At last! On the ground in Parma

J and A are from Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church in Stittsville, Ontario, the church that Jeanne and I founded some twenty-five years ago when J and A were only about three years of age but here is the next generation on the front lines serving with me for two weeks in Italy and Slovenia. They are gifted at cross-cultural interaction and a pleasure to have along for the ride.

I want to say a word here about Chapel Ridge. Here is a little church of about 120 people who like John the Baptist have decreased so that Christ might have the increase. I know of no other church of its’ size that has been so selfless and mission minded, supporting more than a dozen efforts and at least twenty workers as they endeavor to reach the world for Christ. To all of you there who also serve by waiting, praying and sending,  I remind you that, “your labour (and sacrifice) is not in vain… a cup of water (even a single drop) given in Jesus’ name will not be forgot or lost.” You have the collective heart of Caleb.

It was great to see them on the platform in Parma. They took a couple of bright, sunny days in the mountain, seacoast villages of Cinque Terra and arrived rested and ready to go. Loaded with back packs we immediately turned ourselves around and went back a twelve minute ride to Fidenza where they will bunk in for four or five days until we go to Slovenia on Thursday morning.

Jevin and Ashley Arrival 10 31 09 005
With Hebe and Angel Sebastiani

They are staying with Angel and Hebe Sebastaini, missionaries from Venezuela who have now been in Italy for three years. The Sebastiani’s, like the Mann’s in Citta di Castello, have absolutely nothing but faith that God has called them to this part of the world. At first they had financial support from Venezuela but with Presdient Hugo Chavez in power and his atheism, anti-Christian position, no one can send any money out of the country to missionaries abroad, so the Sebastiani’s have agreed that, if God has called them to go without then they will trust the raven’s to feed and house them. They have learned, whether abased or abounding, to be content in either case they find the circumstances.  It is often my greatest pleasure to help these friends out financially and I want my supporters to know that some of that which you give to me gets into the hands of many who serve here, both nationals and internationals.

Jevin and Ashley Arrival 10 31 09 008
To the train for Parma from Fidenza

We are met at the train station, taken to their apartment, where courtesies are exchanged, bedrooms and bathrooms are pointed out and described. Then we sat in the living room for a time while Hebe strummed her guitar and sang to us in Spanish, Italian and English (we joined her). After this, she put together a penne lunch with REAL fromaggio di parmigiano.

Now we were off to Parma for the evening with the Gruppo Latino Americano Cristiano as the youth provide supper for and celebrate their parents in the effort to win them to Christ.

Jevin and Ashley Arrival 10 31 09 012
Evening in Parma

I will simply provide a few photos and captions of our “walk-about” before meeting with the youth at 7:30 in the evening.

Torta cropped

Torta Fritta...YUM. Salumi and Prochiutto on hot fried bread.

Entry 11 Progetto Archippo

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fornovo, Italy

Progetto Archippo 10 30 09 012Having to rush form the train after my arrival back in Parma, I am picked up at the train station by Aldo then off to get Victor and then to Corcagnano , then to the small mountain village of Fornovo. All of this to arrive for the inaugural meeting of Progetto Archippo (Col. 4:17). This is the culmination of seven years of dreaming and planning… “but in the fullness of time.”

I first arrived in Italy in 1997. Since then I have made twenty-six trips. When I first came I kicked around Italy for at least six years doing what I could, preaching and personal evangelism wherever I could. It was in 2004, while visiting Gianni and Fanny Basta in Napoli that they simply said, “If you are ever in Parma, you should meet our friends Aldo and Mariela Cerasino. They have just moved there from Bologna and are starting a church. When I heard this, I was immediately struck by the notion that this was it! This was the connection God had in mind for me. As soon as I returned from Napoli to Trieste, I called Aldo who spoke enough English to understand me. I simply told him that I heard of him and his work and felt the Lord was leading me to come and see them. He was very happy to receive me in their apartment on Via Zanguidi. I showed up on the hottest day of the year and suffered through the first night with no fan (moving air) or air-conditioning.

In the morning, we met on the back porch with coffee and immediately made friends. It was then that we begin to discuss how we might work together. Before leaving, Aldo handed me what he called their “Progetto.”  It was a three or four page document in Italian, none of which I could yet understand. I acted interested and put it aside as an, “It’s an all Greek to me,” to me sort of thing.

For the next three years or so we worked together, watching the church grow along with trust and friendship. After the church was somewhere around twenty persons, the Lord gave me a dream and scripture to confirm it. I wrote both of these down and shared what I had seen with my wife, accountability team and friends. It was all so clear that I wrote it all down for posterity. I felt, for me, it was a clear word of prophesy. All the while these developments are taking place, I am learning bits and pieces of Italian but still Aldo and Mariela’s “Progetto” remained buried in a file.

When I shared my vision with Aldo he said, this is our “Progetto!” It was only then that I found the document from four or five years before and began to decipher it. He was right. It was their “Progetto”.

Later, about three years more and we meet an area Operation Mobilization outreach director, Francesco Abortivo who (guess what) had the same vision that from Parma would be a missionary training, church planting and sending institute which would send missionaries throughout Italy, Europe and other parts of the world. If one draws a circle of one days’ air travel from Parma they will see that within that circle are about fifty distinct cultures and more than eighty language groups. In Europe alone there are 741 million people with less than 1% “Great Commission” believers, not to mention the opportunity afforded us to take the Gospel to North Africa and the Middle East.

Here it is, the day that we have been looking forward to. Nothing is easy in Italy as the church is divided and incredibly competitive, suspicious and isolated one believing group from another so there was, from the beginning, any hope that Pastors would come together for this purpose. This is when Aldo and Francesco began to bring together the lead missionaries already active in Christ centered, kingdom conscious work as we all are.  

We, ACCI members,  were encouraged to see these folks putting their heads and hearts together for the purpose of fulfilling the “Great Commission” in Italy and elsewhere. Though remaining in the background so this is a national initiative, ACCI has played an integral part from the very inception and I was happy to be in the area when they came together for their first organizational meeting.

Progetto Archippo 10 30 09 001
Mariela Cerasino, Alessia Abortivi and Hebe Sebastiani

There was the customary “getting to know you time” where men and women politely shook my hand, made attempts at courteous small talk in English and then quietly drifted toward less intensive communication challenges.

I could sense that, as predicted, there was a certain amount of suspicion regarding, what they consider to be my “American” (American and control are the same words to an Italian) interest so I kept quiet and snapped occasional photos and made video of the proceedings.

Progetto Archippo 10 30 09 015
Francesco leading the discussion

The well organized (afterall, it was Francesco’s work who should have been a German) Power Point presentation was brief, attractive, precise and informative. Now it was the time we all dreaded as Francesco put up his last slide, “Domande ‘e Suggerimenti.” Italian’s must all have questions and suggestions and we could feel tension build in the room. There is a general cultural, negative attitude, the “it won’t work” or “it will ultimately fail” syndrome. This is Italy where nothing works as it should. As we predicted we got our fair share of this sort of objection but in the end, after everyone had their territorial say, we all left happy, shaking hands, kissing and hopeful that we have more with us than “agin” us.”  The first course in the two-year program will commence in February.