How Joshua got into missions
As I look back over the course of my life I see the hand of the Lord ever preparing me to come here to Italy. Of course at the time I didn’t always know that the Lord was working. For example, even moving around the world with my military family was, in a way, getting me ready to move myself overseas. It taught me flexibility and gave me many cross cultural experiences as we lived all around the globe.
In my teens I took three summer mission trips and a spring youth group mission trip to Russia, Brazil, Africa and to Mexico. Then when at Bryan College, preparing to be a youth pastor I lead two trips to Italy that would change me forever. I learned of the need in Italy. That there are still 32,000 towns and villages with NO Gospel influence whatsoever! That there are only about 750 missionaries in the country. Meaning that each missionary needs to reach an average of 43 cities to get all of Italy covered with the gospel. Of course to effectively reach a city it takes years. So great was the need that pierced my heart. I thought of how many people in my class alone wanted to be youth pastors and how many wanted to be missionaries. The ratio was staggering. The youth ministries program was swelling with students, those who wanted to be pastors were even fewer and those who were going to the field were even less…none to Italy.
That is when the Lord started pulling my heart towards Italy. I came for a yearlong internship and fell in love with the country, culture and Carmela. I have now been back in Italy since ’02 working with a bible school as a R.D. for American students in S. Lorenzo, then moved to Udine to start learning the ropes in church-planting. After 2 and a half years in Udine we moved over to Sacile to work with a church starting from scratch and working mostly alone we were able to see a group form and grow. I was preaching weekly in Italian, leading worship and starting small groups before turning the work over to another missionary.
We have just moved now out of the northeastern region of Italy down to the south in the city of Acireale, Sicily. We will be heading up the evangelism efforts were we will be working on supporting the Acireale Church Plant and reaching the lost with the life giving Gospel. This should give you a brief nutshell version on how the Lord moved in my life to bring me where I am today.
A little background on Carmela
I grew up in a catholic family but I never saw my parents go to church or have a Bible in the house till my mom got saved. I was eight at that time and I started attending Sunday school and for me that was just better than sitting in the boring meeting my mom was in. When I was ten, listening to the stories of Jesus Christ, the way He lived, the purpose of His coming, made me realize that even if I was only ten I was a sinner and if I had not accepted Him into my life I would have gone to be apart from Him forever. I realized only His blood was able to purify my heart and give me the opportunity to become a child of God. I gave my life to Him but the walk wasn’t easy…My dad didn’t understand that my mom and I found a true relationship with Christ; he just saw it as a change of religion. I had to do first communion ’cause he said “…otherwise don’t call me dad anymore.” When I was 15 I wanted to be baptized but he told me he would rather me do drugs than be a follower of Christ if that meant be evangelical. He brought me to our farmhouse as a punishment, far from my mom and sisters and the church. For a year he didn’t consider me as a daughter anymore. At the age of 15 God also spoke to my heart about serving Him full time…giving Him everything that was already His. I cried a lot in those years but I also grew close to God and He molded me for the time when I needed to help others.
For those of you who wonder why we are here in Italy sharing the Gospel with Italians that are already “Christians”. I just want you to know that a lot of catholic are like my dad, just born catholic, like they were born Italian, is enough for them. They are blind to salvation, grace or the Gospel.
My name is Hannah Grace and I am 5 and I will be 6 in January on the 5th. My favorite color is pink and I love dressing up and pretending to be a princess. I like dancing too and want to learn to play the piano. I am very good at drawing pictures and am happy to sit and draw things. I like singing a lot pretending to put makeup on. I like to speak in English with my daddy and Benedetta, but with mommy I can speak Italian really well. At school I translate between my teachers and other American kids.
I’m Benedetta and I am 3 years old. My birthday is on the 12th of April. I really love having birthdays so much that I want to have a lot of them all the time. Just like my sister, I can speak in Italian and in English and my favorite color is purple. Unlike Hannah I can’t stand to be still for long. Just like my daddy, I love to run, jump tickle, play and climb. I do like to watch Dora, Blue’s Clues and Boz. My favorite toy is whatever Hannah has in her hands!