Journal entry 22

Journal entry 22

From Canals to Cathedrals - A trip to Italy

Redeeming travel: this is EdenGate’s goal. This time, it’s happening in Italy, the land of history, culture, art, and (most importantly for the typical traveller): food. Redeeming travel and travelling for God’s glory for an ensemble of Minnesotans brought them to people and places they couldn’t have foretold as they watched God work in ways only He can.

As the sun rose over the sprawling city of Venice, the group gathered eagerly on the banks of the Grand Canal. Their journey would take them through the heart of Italy, from the bustling streets of Bologna to the serene hills of Assisi, from the artistic hub of Florence to the ancient city of Rome.

Behind the scenes of this thrilling experience were local church planters who planned out and brought to life meetings, outings and moments of praise and prayer to welcome the guests into the real Italian church.

One of these was Rob Krause. “We visited a church plant in Conegliano to hear stories of the newly purchased property, their life-skills projects that they are doing with refugees, and testimonies of God's grace in all of their lives along with the impact their young ministry is having on the city. Some of the folks were already crying with tears of joy.”

“We proceeded to our church facility where the leadership from 5 churches joined us for a "praise-presentation-prayer" gathering. We presented 7 different ministries and  prayed for them as well as Impatto and the Serenissima Ministry Group and our work together for church-planting.”

Visiting this local reality made the team feel they had seen the most beautiful things in northern Italy in the bride of Christ: the church.

One of the guests expressed: “We were very impressed by the resilience of the Italian church planters, working in hard soil and thinking creatively about the needs of the culture around them”

As the days continued, the guests encountered a tapestry of missionaries, and despite originating from such vastly different locations, were able to connect and share on a soul-level. Elisabetta and Federico Francini are church planting in Assisi (the birth-place of St Francis, one of Italy’s patron Saints), and have met and had fellowship with many American groups throughout the years as they often pass through Assisi. “With some you immediately form a special relationship, and others are more like angels, passing through and never seen again. Both types are important. But the EdenGate Tour group from Bethlehem Baptist Church had a strong impact in our life. We’re in a moment of big decisions as a family and church, and they didn’t know this.

We needed someone to touch our hearts and say “God is in control”. We had dinner together, we prayer together and they asked us questions. They were interested in our lives.”

Very often ministry in Italy is lonely because there isn’t anyone to share your thoughts or life with. People asking sincere questions, and then taking the initiative to pray for you is an immense encouragement.

The following day Elisabetta received an invitation from one of the women to meet with and spend more time together. “She chose to spend time with me instead of visiting the local Basilica. When I asked why, she said “You’re my sister, I’m interested in you. I’ve seen many churches in Italy, I want to spend time with you and share my life with you” and God used this moment to encourage, touch and bless Elisabetta.

After a meaningful 10 days together, the journey of the EdenGate group led them to the eternal city of Rome, where the echoes of history reverberated through the narrow streets and grand monuments. It was here that they encountered a unique project called the "Reformation Walk" orchestrated by Liberato Vitale's Institute. This one-of-a-kind experience sought to illuminate the intricate relationship between evangelical faith, culture, and the profound impact of the Reformation.

As they embarked on this guided tour,  the participants were immersed in a rich tapestry of historical notions and cultural repercussions. It was not simply a stroll through the city; rather, it served as a training and edification tool. The "Reformation Walk" painted a vivid picture of the connections between Rome, the seat of Catholicism, and the far-reaching influence of the Reformation that swept through Germany and across Europe.

Liberato Vitale himself expressed the significance of this journey, saying, "The focus given, in particular, on the theme of the Reformation and the relationship between evangelical faith and culture, makes the 'Walk' an invaluable experience for the participants." The group delved into the depths of history, exploring the profound impact of the Reformation and its implications for the present day.

In addition to the spiritual enrichment, the EdenGate travellers also found joy in discovering the wonders of Italian history. One of the participants shared his delight, saying, "We loved learning about God's work in some of the hard hearts in Italy and the hope He has given through our fellow brothers and sisters to refugees in Conegliano. My teenage kids were blessed with the history of Italy as well as the gelato!”

EdenGate Travels looks forward to bringing many more guests to discover the past and present realities of the enriching country of Italy. Bringing both renewal to the souls of the travellers and local Italian Christians alike. Maybe you’d like to join the next tour?

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