October 17 Prayer Requests

Happy October! Fall is officially here, as are cooler temps and “change of season” colds. Before I share my prayer requests for the month, here are a couple praises!

The Lord has graciously given me peace during this time of transition. As I continue to fit back into life in Rome, the transition is getting easier and easier. I am feeling more settled and that is partly because…

I found an apartment! It was an intense month of searching and appointments, then God dropped this gift in my lap. It’s spacious, has everything I was looking for, is in a central area of the city, and fits the budget! We signed the contract 2 weeks ago, and I’m so grateful to have a place to call home, a space that’s my own. I’m currently working on this post from the coffee bar/restaurant that is literally under my apartment. Counting all the little blessings!

And some requests:

  • Tomorrow (October 18th) is the 10th annual EU Anti Trafficking Day. Please pray for continued reform across Europe (and the world), for God to move in people’s hearts, for the victims, and for all the movements that are taking a stand against trafficking in human beings. In Rome, we are beginning to ramp up activities with our anti-trafficking ministry Schiavitù Mai Più (Slavery No More). This Saturday (October 22nd) we will be having an informational meeting for those who are interested in learning more about the problem of modern day slavery and how they can get involved in combatting it. We are praying for more local Italians to be moved to action. We also have the second annual gathering for the Associazione Tesori Raggianti (Radiant Treasures Alliance) on October 29th, which will bring together individuals and ministries fighting trafficking from all across Italy. This event will take place in Bologna, instead of Florence like originally planned, because there are so many people interested in coming that a large space was need!
  • This week (Thursday, October 20th), our church has an event in which our pastor will dialogue with a local Muslim leader, answering the question: Can religion contribute to world peace? We had a similar event a couple years ago with a Buddhist leader. It was done very well, everyone was very respectful, it brought in a lot of people who were intrigued, and it gave people the chance to start conversations and ask good questions. We are praying that this event will be just as impactful.
  • Please continue to pray for adjustments and transitions. Esther just arrived a few weeks ago, is in the middle of a huge transition, and starts language school this week. Josh has his visa appointment this week, still needs a bit of support, and is planning to depart on November 7th. Lauren K has made amazing progress toward her start-up costs, is still needing partners in ongoing support, and is hoping to join us SOON! Pray for these interns as they transition, and pray for the rest of us on the Rome City Team as we come alongside them and seek to help them adjust well.
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Celebrating Freedom

Freedom is a beautiful thing. This month, we are celebrating freedom and also raising awareness of those who don’t have it. October 18th is the European Union Anti-Trafficking Day. Our anti-trafficking initiative Schiavitù Mai Più [Slavery No More], along with partners across Europe and all over the world, is campaigning for freedom with the project “18 Days of Freedom.” During these Freedom Days, we are posting pictures with captions like this: “This is what freedom means to me. What does it mean to you?” We are sharing these pictures along with the hashtag #18DaysOfFreedom in order to promote freedom and justice and to create awareness of those who are still being exploited. It has been so encouraging to see the involvement and movement grow from day to day.

The campaign will culminate on the 18th with freedom events in the cities of participating organizations. Here in Rome, we will be having some dramatic performances in piazzas and a showing of the film Nefarious at a church in the city center. We are hopeful that this initiative will not only put the issue of trafficking on peoples’ radar, but stir them to take action in the fight against these injustices. One of our constant prayers is for the Lord to bring more locals into involvement in justice ministry.

Here are some of the images that we have shared so far:

If you’d like to join us for the remainder of the project, add your photos to the #18DaysOfFreedom hashtag and share with your friends!

Beautiful Things

Summer! It is hot in Rome, and life is moving quickly. Here’s what’s going on:

-The Bennetches-
My team leaders, Sarah and Brian, left the first week of August for a two-month Home Assignment. They will be visiting supporting churches, seeing family and friends, and hopefully getting some rest. Please, pray for them as they travel, and for their time Stateside to be fruitful.

-New Team Mates-
The Rome City Team has two new long-term team members on the field! Scott and Elaine Wyler arrived mid-July, after 3 years of developing ministry partnerships and support raising. We are so glad that they are here! Please, pray for their adjustment to life in Rome, for reliance on the Lord for strength, and for new beginnings as they search for an apartment and start language school.

-TREK7-
In July, we had a short-term team come through Rome. These 5 twenty-somethings were part of ReachGlobal’s TREK7 program which sends teams on 7 week missions trips across the world. The team that came to Rome was unique in that they were the only team whose time was split between multiple locations [Madrid, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Rome, Italy]. They came to do ministry projects, to meet the missionaries on the field, and to learn about the cultures and how ministry works in each context. I was so blessed to be able to spend time working with them, getting to know them, and showing them around this beautiful, complicated city. We had an outreach English course for 5 days while they were here, and they were also able to participate in refugee ministries, food service, sports outreach to kids in one of Rome’s poorest neighborhoods, and prayer walking the streets where we have our Slavery No More ministry.

-RGEC-
Scott and Elaine made it here just in time to join us at the biannual ReachGlobal Europe Conference. The day after our TREK7 team headed back to the states, the 5 of us on the Rome City Team took a train trip to Trieste, Italy where a shuttle picked us up and took us to the hotel in Portorož, Slovenia where we spent a week hearing great messages, meeting other staff and learning about their ministries in other parts of Europe, praying, worshipping, and relaxing by the Adriatic Sea. It was a wonderful time of resting and hearing from the Lord, just what I needed! And after the conference was over, we took a little team retreat to Lake Bled, Slovenia, just the 5 of us. It was lovely to have that time to spend together before Sarah and Brian would leave, and Lake Bled was unbelievably beautiful! A place right out of a fairytale.

-Anti-Trafficking-
Our Slavery No More team has been doing street outreach ministry every other Friday for the past few months. In the area of the city we are focused on right now, most of the Treasures we encounter are Romanian. I have been going out with the team, but while the Angel Squad goes to chat with the girls and bring them our gifts [snacks, iced tea, personal care items, cards with Bible verses and information, etc.], I have been staying in the van with Brian to watch and pray. When they return from each conversation, I always send out a text message to our groups in the city who are praying for us as we go out to let them know who we’ve talked to, where they’re from or other personal information they share with us, as well as the atmosphere on the street and other ways they can be praying. We took off the month of August as the Bennetches are gone and other team members have been out of town here and there [Rome pretty much shuts down in the summer as people go on holiday]. I’m hoping we will be able to start going out again in September as things return to their normal routine.

Rome City Team [Me, Brian, Sarah, Elaine, and Scott]

img_4215

TREK7 visiting the Trevi [Emily, Tim, Leah, Christine, and John]

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
-Gungor

Follow Up to Nefarious and April

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for our Nefarious event at the end of March! April went by so fast that it’s hard to believe it has been a month since the Exodus Cry team was here presenting the film, but I wanted to give some follow up information about screening that we were so privileged to be able to host along with other many other brothers and sisters here in Rome and beyond. It was a true collaboration and we give all the glory to God for how smoothly it went and for how many lives were influenced. The following breakdown of the events of the day and the results of its impact was written my by team leader Sarah Bennetch.

Here’s how the Event unfolded:
1.       A Street-Art Troupe acted out (on Piazza San Giovanni) a scenario suggesting sex slavery, to draw the public’s attention early in the day. They also performed in the cinema lobby before each screening.
2.       Artwork on the theme of sex trafficking was displayed at the venue.
3.       University Students’ screening organized with the help of Cru staff.
4.       Special Screening for VIPs and invited guests. Attendees included leaders and authorities from the civic, church, law enforcement, diplomatic, and media fields.
5.       Open Screening for the general public — packed house!
6.       Each screening was presented by the Travel Team from Exodus Cry.
7.       Refreshments were provided to allow for talking and praying after viewing the film.

Over 300 people attended, plus over 25 volunteers, many of whom stayed to discuss their impressions of the film, and the issue, or to be interviewed.

Some reactions to the film:
·         (College students, in tears) “We always thought the best solution for prostitution was to legalize it to make it better for the women. This film clearly shows that all those women are being exploited and prostitution is damaging on any terms. What can we do to change things?”

·         (The leader of the Evangelical Alliance in Italy): “We don’t need any more seminars about another issue. We need to put all the pastors in a room and show them this film. It’s crucial for pastors and church leaders to bring this ugly reality closer to home for them, to get them to do something to help these victims.”

·         (Email from a believer): “Images of those little girls’ faces kept flashing before my eyes. While watching the film, I just kept seeing my daughter. I was …. distressed and still am upset beyond words. No film has ever had this effect on me. Very close to where we live there are many deserted roads with open land, and every day I see many African girls standing by the side of the road selling themselves, it breaks my heart EVERYTIME. My heart just goes out to them and I wonder what situations they come out of and are in. I’ve prayed many times, and I have to say that, now more than ever, I want to pray more fervently for these women and girls trapped in these situations. I’m so, so deeply saddened… and even angry. I would like to become actively involved in a ministry like this one, … but for now, I will continue to pray. Thank you for what you’re doing, I would love to learn more about this ministry. Grazie ancora.”

·         (A male student and new Christian): “We need to be talking about these things, especially the (testimonies) from the end of the movie and the power of Jesus in people’s lives.”

We will soon be having an informational meeting for people who have shown interest in joining the movement to end human trafficking and sex slavery and want to get involved here in Rome with Schiavitù Mai Più (Slavery No More).

April was an interesting month for us here. My team leaders Sarah and Brian were out of town twice for conferences. I had friends in town for several days for my birthday, took a weekend trip to Naples, and finished my sixth month of language class. As we change gears going into a new month, I’m really looking forward to starting a more regular ministry to the victims of trafficking in our city. Please continue to pray for this growing movement and spread the word.

Nefarious Event Prayer Guide

One of the faithful volunteers helping with preparations for our Nefarious film event produced a great prayer guide for this last week leading up to the big day. Will you join us in praying? And if you feel so led, you can join our team as we fast on Thursday [from food, or whatever the Lord calls you to go without as a reminder to draw near to Him]. Here is the list of items to pray for each day:

Monday, March 18th
Pray that the Holy Spirit will start to prepare the hearts of the people that are coming, that they will be open to see and receive the truth of the situation of human trafficking. Pray that VIP’s will commit to come and reserve their seats ASAP. Pray that God will provide the volunteers what we need to help us the day of the showings. Pray that God will protect the people that are in charge from getting sick, getting discouraged or frustrated as the big day approaches. Pray for spiritual protection for all the people/volunteers/churches that are involved.

Tuesday, March 19th
Pray for the Exodus Cry team as they have been traveling and ministering for almost a month now. Pray for protection, the leading of the Holy Spirit, strength and wisdom from the Lord as they minister to so many cities and different cultures.  Pray for us as we focus on inviting as many people as we can here in Rome.

Wednesday, March 20th
Pray that God will bring the right people to fill the 425 seats. Pray that a lot of influential people will come and their hearts will be broken by the Spirit about the situation of human trafficking.

Thursday, March 21st [our team’s day of prayer and fasting]
Pray for wisdom for us as we put together the last details. Pray for unity, love and grace amongst the Body of Christ and the volunteers. Pray that we will serve with a humble attitude and servant hearts.

Friday, March 22nd
Pray for the potential technological/media problems during the showings. Pray that everything will go well and without problems. Pray that the Rome volunteers and Exodus Cry will work together and communicate well with one another.

Saturday, March 23rd
Pray that this will be a day when God will be glorified through everything we do. Pray that every seat will be filled, every DVD (Nefarious DVDs) will be sold, every person that is present will be changed, every heart will be broken and everyone will leave fired up and ready to do something about human trafficking. Pray that we will see people come to Christ that day. Pray that the Body of Christ will work beautifully together and will be an awesome representation of Christ. Pray that that day will be the beginning of the fight against trafficking and not just an end to a successful outreach.

 

Thank you for your commitment to pray and to be a part of this movement to end modern-day slavery!

Meraviglioso Marzo

Marvelous March!

Another month here in Roma and we here on the Rome City Team have some seriously exciting items in the works.

In just over a week [March 23], our Slavery No More movement has the Nefarious film event that I mentioned in my last blog. The Lord has been incredibly faithful and provided not only a cinema for the event [Nuovo Cinema Aquila, where we will have THREE showtimes], but also the patrocinio of the Comune di Roma [official patronage or sponsorship of the City of Rome]! Also, these connections give us further possibilities for future events and the opportunity to grow our relationship and witness with city officials. We have been truly blessed!

  • Please pray that this event touches lives and opens hearts and minds, and that it will spark a fire of change that burns long after the event is over.

In February, while my team leaders were out of town, I had the opportunity to assist teach once and lead teach twice at Tuesday night English class. I was nervous, but it went really well. We have a really enthusiastic group of students who are always ready to talk and ask plenty of good questions. I’m excited to start building friendships with them and to meet outside of class for language exchange and even cooking lessons!

  • Please pray that these lessons continue to open doors for us to show God’s love to our students.

I finished my fourth month of language classes at the end of February and passed my B2 level exam! After 4 months of lessons consisting mostly of grammar, I decided to switch to a different school to put what I’ve learned into practice. I’m now taking a conversation course 2 hours a day Monday through Friday. This has been a challenge so far, but I’m already feeling a little more comfortable speaking and listening.

  • Please pray that I am able to maintain friendships that I made in my old class and for new ones to begin in my new class.

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 1:6

All Things New

I’ve never been much into New Year’s resolutions, but I do enjoy the excitement and anticipation that the new year brings, and the ways that I see God bringing newness into my life and the world around me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

-2 Corinthians 5:17

There are so many ministry opportunities that the Lord is providing and I’m looking forward to all the new connections to be made.

The anti-trafficking movement Schiavitù Mai Più (Slavery No More) was able to reach out to three different areas of the city in December as groups delivered smalls care packages and messages of hope to trafficked “Treasures” on the boulevards for Christmas. I was not able to go with any of the groups as the ministered to these girls, but I did get to help put together some of the gift bags and prayed earnestly for the groups while they were out. Many contacts were made and we are hoping to begin relationships with these trafficking victims and become familiar, friendly faces in this continuing outreach.

Our Schiavitù Mai Più team also has a wonderful opportunity to be the final stop on Exodus Cry’s European screening tour of the Nefarious: Merchant of Souls documentary at the end of March. Through this event, we want to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking throughout the whole city. Right now, we are trying to find the right venue to use that will be an efficient and wise use of resources, and an effective location to create widespread awareness within the varying subcultures that we are hoping to reach (government officials and other cultural influencers, faith communities, the general public, and the Body of Christ).

I’m also excited for new opportunities to minister as we start up English classes again. I’ve missed that part of the week since we’ve been on break, so I’m really looking forward to helping with that as we begin the semester tomorrow night!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

-Psalm 51:10-12

The Lord also amazes me with all of the things that He REnews. After a difficult December, He has encouraged me so much this month and renewed and refreshed my heart. He also continues to show me more of Himself in little, everyday things like language learning. Language learning is so cool. It helps you understand where words in your own language come from! Like: benediction. In Italian “benedizione” translates as blessing. It comes from the root word “benedire,” and if you break that down, “bene” means well or good and “dire” means to speak. So, literally it means a good word or to speak well of something. How cool is that?! [Please, take my interpretations with a grain of salt as I am not a linguist or fluent in Italian. Haha!]

Another encouragement I have received is that my roommate Danielle finally arrived on Saturday! After some troubles at the Houston Consulate [much like I had], she finally got her visa and made it here on a standby flight and with all her luggage. Yay!

And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

-Revelation 21:5

It is so good to know that our Father is making all things new and that we can trust in His promise to do so because His words are always trustworthy and true. What new things is He beginning in your life?