Ciao a tutti (Hello everyone), from beautiful downtown Milano! As we shared with you last time…Karen and I have taken over the young adult ministry and we are having a blast with these international students and professionals. Below are a couple of pictures from a recent young adult Bible study.
In this small group we have young people from Canada, Philippines, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, China, Kenya, Egypt, Brazil and America.
It’s been our experience that many of these young people have had some exposure to Christianity, but often the teaching they’ve been exposed to has been superficial or just downright heretical. It’s such a blessed privilege to simply open the Bible and challenge them to hear what our awesome God has truly said…I have to say, it’s just so much fun to watch God turn the lights on!
The Lord has once again graciously provided for us to fly home this year for the holidays…This is a sweet gift to us that we may see our parents, children, and ever-increasing number of grandchildren…As well as, many of you. Yes, we are available to be taken out to eat a lot…Yeah…I know you take, BBQ ribs, greasy cheeseburgers, onion rings, catfish & Mexican food for granted…We don’t!
We praise the Lord that He has again provided a place for us to lodge while we are in Little Rock! We are continuing to pray for the use of an automobile while we are there. Please let us know if you are aware of a vehicle that might be available. We fly into Little Rock December 14 and fly out January 6.
We love you…Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support! God continues to “turn the world upside-down” over here…One life at a time!
Jim & Karen
Ciao amici! Grande notizia da Milano! (Hello friends, Great news from Milan)…Karen recently had her semi-annual battery of tests and scans…AND…Yes, the oncologist says everything looks good! We are so humbled by and so thankful for God’s ever-faithful, attentive goodness to us in every sphere of life! Who is a God like ours? Yeah…You know…There ain’t none!
As most of you know, Tyler & Jessica Stewart from Kansas City, Missouri came over in January of this year to handle our music and young adult ministry. For personal reasons, they have decided it is best for them to return to the States in the coming weeks…While we are thankful to have them and will definitely miss them, we are excited about how God has equipped the Body to handle this unexpected change.
We have three gifted young men in the congregation who are going to work together to lead our worship…Below is a shot of the worship team from last Sunday…From the left…Yes, that’s my beautiful wife & Tyler from America, Maryse from Canada, Chinelo from Nigeria, Renel from the Philippines, Orazio from Italy and Heidi from Denmark. Renel, who sings beautifully, plays guitar and can really, really, I mean really, bang a jimbe, will be assuming leadership of our music ministry.
Karen and I, along with Kelvin, a young man from the Philippines, will assume responsibility for the young adult ministry…Karen & I used to do this work and in all honesty we have missed being more involved in the lives of these young people from all over the world…We are genuinely excited!
Every fall is a whole new season in our church…We lost about 50% of the church to repatriation over the summer, so we are beginning to rebuild…Join us in praying that the Lord will draw many to Himself through ICM!
As always…We praise the Lord and thank Him for your continued interest and investment in what He is doing in Milano! —– Much love, Jim & Karen
Friends…The month of May was way too much fun! Our Father is so gracious to us!
The Lord allowed me to preach in a new Italian church plant a couple of hours east of Milano…Our church is coming alongside this new work to provide prayer and financial support along with fellowship, counsel and encouragement…It’s called the “Grace Alone Church”…A great contrast to the false church that dominates this nation.
Karen was invited to be the keynote speaker at an women’s conference made up of 60 Italian speaking women doing evangelical ministry in southern Italy…She traveled to the extreme southern tip of the Italian peninsula to challenge the women to persevere in deepening their relationship with God as they persevere in their ministry.
Also this month…Pictured below…The Lord blessed our church with yet another great annual women’s retreat… We had a little over 60 women from about 15 different nations for a long weekend in Varese, Italy. Once again, we simultaneously translated all the sessions into Italian for the good number of Italian women present.
Just last Sunday, pictured below…I had the privilege to baptize Chen from China…Until just recently she was an atheist…Not any more…Until she came to ICM she had never been in a Christian church before…God has done a beautiful work in her life…She gave an emotional & tear-filled testimony…She calls the Biblical gospel “gorgeous!”
Buongiorno! A quick update from your favorite missionaries in Italy!
As you know, it’s always been one of our goals to plant a sister Italian church in Milano…Pictured below is our first “exploratory service” held a couple of weeks ago to gauge where we are in this effort. We had 26! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot to you Americans in the Bible belt…But in Italy, that’s a great beginning! We are planning more of these gatherings in the coming months. There were young people from Canada, Brazil, England, France, Nigeria, Uruguay, China, Ghana, Philippines & USA. Three of the young adults are interested in pursuing seminary and vocational ministry….Another has just recently made a profession of faith and has expressed an interest in baptism…We love this job!
As is perpetually the case in our little fellowship, another one of our beloved internationals has recently repatriated to her home country…Her name is Becky, she’s from the UK… That’s her with us on her last Sunday at ICM. She was only with us for seven months, but the Lord turned her life upside down.
Becky writes…“I never thought leaving ICM would be so hard! I hope you know what a blessing your ministry here is and how great it is to be part of the little web of ICM Christians from all over the world. I know God sent me to Milan to come to ICM…It’s incredible to think how much He has changed me in such a short time, God’s been cutting me to the core, completely overhauling every part of my life & changing my outlook on everything…I love it! It’s great to be a part of a church where you are challenged every single week…I am going home completely changed…I don’t want to go back to being the Christian I was before…ICM is not your average church & I hope you know what a blessing you are!” Yeah…Like I said, we love this job!
We praise God for the lofty privilege of proclaiming the beauty, value, worth and sufficiency of Jesus Christ to the whole world through our little international fellowship…We thank Him for using you to partner with us in this joyful endeavor!
Jim & Karen
Karen – Karen has had her six month follow up oncology consult…All of her scans and tests are clear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We praise our awesome Father!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Doha, Qatar – In February, Karen and I had the great privilege to fly down to Doha for 10 days of ministry. A former member of our church in Milan is now stationed there. It’s an astonishing place…You can feel the money…There is new construction at every turn. They have about 6 huge sky-scrappers up with very low occupancy but there are about 6 more huge ones under construction…It makes no sense, but it doesn’t have to when you have mountains of cash.
There is a great international church there called Grace Fellowship with about 400 in attendance. They’ve not been given government approval to have a full time pastor so they occasionally bring in someone like us. They meet in a huge villa and have three services each Friday…They worship on Friday because Sunday is a work day in the Muslim world. I preached 6 times on consecutive Fridays, helped with a Bible study, did some counseling and performed a baptism. Karen spoke to the women’s group and also did some counseling.
While there, I heard from two different sources what you would never hear in the western media. With great excitement, a Jordanian man shared with me how God is at work in the Muslim world…He told me there is a quiet awakening going on…He told me how God is using the Internet to spread the Gospel and to reveal the deception of Islam…It’s very effective for the simple reason that former Muslim’s, who have genuinely come to Christ, are the ones doing it…It gave me goose-bumps to listen to this brother!
It’s illegal to proselytize in Qatar and if caught, you’re deported…It didn’t stop Karen for sharing the truth about Jesus Christ with our tour guide in the mosque we visited. How can you not love her? I reminded the church there that they were not in Doha just for a pay-check, but that they were there on God’s errand…I challenged them not to waste their time in this Muslim mission field being careful…God has never redeemed His people to live careful lives!
The Church – While we are smaller in numbers than we’ve been in past years, the Lord has really been blessing with a genuine spirit of worship. We have a wonderful group of young adults in the church right now who are really hungry for the things of God…It’s so much fun to watch them falling more in love with Jesus…Several have talked with us about going into the ministry…Awesome!
Building – The building we’ve been praying about for a year or so now looks like a real possibility, although one never really knows in Italy. The allure is to get a visible toe hold in our area of Milano for the Biblical Gospel…This building is primarily an investment in long term Italian ministry. Please be in prayer about this with us…It will be a huge step of faith for us…More on this later.
Wow…Another new year…Seems like we just did that…I’m getting old and so are you…All the more reason to give 2010 to Jesus Christ!
God is quite vivid in remaining us of our temporal nature…He reminds us that human life is like a vapor, a breeze, a shadow, a breath, a phantom, like the grass or the flower that quickly fades…If we have only average comprehension skills, we should get the message here…We’re not here to stay, we’re here to go and the implications are titanic! As a faithful friend said to me one time, “Live your faith huge, for in a few moments we will be with Him!”
So…It’s your call…What will you do with 2010? Again, I say we should give it to Jesus Christ in an extravagant, exaggerated, overstated way! Dare I say it? Can I say it without anyone getting too tense? We should give 2010 to Jesus in a radical way!
That’s what we’re talking about at the Int’l Church of Milan…Consciously, proactively, aggressively, vigorously giving ourselves away to our Lord Jesus. Really walking in His steps in 2010…No, really…Really walking in His steps…No, I mean really walking in His steps…You know, like we really believe our God is God and like He is an irrepressible promise-keeper! You know…radical (oops, I said it again), sold out, never look back, walk on water kind of obedience! You know, the faith-stuff we fancy ourselves doing in our quiet times, but never actually get around to doing… I say no more procrastination… No more hedging… No more half-measures… No more excuses…Just glad reckless joy obedience in 2010.
Do any of you take what God says seriously? God says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon the earth…But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” God expects His children to live like they believe what He says! Like it matters…Like it matters more than anything else in our lives…So, I say let 2010 be a radical (oops, there it is again) all out investment in the Kingdom of God in every sphere of our lives…Let every aspect of your life be more about Jesus than it has ever been before!
So…Don’t just read this and think, well, Jim has gone over the edge again…I challenge you to hear what God is saying to all of us…Pray about it…And then do the radical (okay, I’m tired of apologizing) thing…Radically (I’ve been set free) live like you get the whole vapor thing…Radically live like you get the whole stewardship thing…Radically live like you really believe what God says about eternal reward…Radically point at the Bema Seat every day…Radically give 2010 to Jesus Christ…C’mon, you know you want to!
A little Italian seems appropriate…Sempre avanti! It means…Always forward!
Always forward with Jesus in 2010, for in a few moments, we will be with Him!
Not sure if all of you have seen our 2009 video…If not…Here’s the link:
Much love and every blessing…
Jim & Karen