Monday, August 6, 2012

What God Taught Me in Italy & A Thank You!!!


 Thank you all so much for supporting me on my internship with Avant Ministries to Genoa, Italy! Your prayers and financial support made this life changing experience possible and I am forever grateful. I would love to sit down with each of you and share stories about Italy, the Italian people, the missionaries, and my friends from language school. If you have specific questions please don’t hesitate to email me at knmckinney91@aol.com, but in this letter I will try to hit the highlights of my six weeks in Genoa.
(The Avant Genoa Team)

Genoa is a port city on the Northern coast of Italy and less than 2% of the country’s population are evangelical Christians. I was blessed to live with a missionary family, the Paces, and participate in daily mission activities with the Genoa Avant Team. The Team includes three American couples, one woman, eight children, and an Italian couple. One of the biggest blessings was meeting these incredible people who have given so much of their lives to the Lord. It was an honor to learn from them and serve alongside them. To give you a better idea of my weekly activities, I’ll break it down day by day:

Italian Language School: Every morning for the first three weeks, my fellow intern, June, and I went to four hours of Italian class every day. I learned a lot and was able to listen and follow people’s conversations. However, forming sentences and speaking was almost impossible for me. Learning another language is harder than you think! The bright side is that at language school I made three friends, Laura, Sarah, and Andrea!

Monday: Every Monday afternoon the team has a planning meeting to prepare for the Jesus Encounters throughout the week and to pray for the people of Genoa and each other. A Jesus Encounter is the name for the Italian house churches that are happening throughout Genoa. These mini churches are held in someone’s living room or a coffee shop and include worship, prayer, fellowship, and studying God’s word. There are now seven Jesus Encounters happening in the city, with one being led by a national believer! The goal is for all seven to be led by national believers so the missionaries can focus their energy on starting new house churches so even more Italians can hear the good news of Jesus.

Tuesday:  Team Fellowship was every Tuesday night at our team leader, Tim’s house. I really enjoyed this sweet time of worship, prayer, and delicious food with the missionaries. In Italy the food really is excellent! Genoa is famous for creating pesto sauce, so pasta with Genovese’ pesto was my favorite local dish!
 (Sarah and I at the train station on the way to Monaco)

Wednesday: Jesus Encounter at my host home, the Pace’s house. Almost every Wednesday afternoon my new friend, Sarah, and I would go to the beach and then attend the Jesus Encounter where we studied the book of Ephesians. Sarah is a young Muslim woman from Turkey. She is a tour guide in Turkey, loves Americans, and wants to know more about Christianity. I got her a Turkish English New Testament to read in her own language and she began asking profound and difficult questions about my faith. Her search for truth is admirable and I have no doubt that she will find her answers in Jesus. He is after her heart, it’s only a matter of time. Please join me in praying for her salvation and protection.
                 
Thursday: The team did evangelism in the local market by handing out the gospel of John and initiating conversations with Italians. June and I also attended afternoon mentorship meetings with Dustin and Miranda, a couple on the team, as part of our internship.

 (June, Tim, Emily, Me, & Phil sharing Jesus in the market)

Friday: Jesus Encounter in Begato, which is the poorest area of Genoa. The people are extremely hardened towards God and some actually choose to worship the Devil instead. The majority of the Italian people are non-practicing Catholics, with the younger generation being mostly agnostic and atheist.

Saturday: Generally a free day. As you can see from my pictures on Facebook, I was able to travel to Monaco, Camogli, and Rome! Camogli is a small town along the northern coast. It was absolutely breathtaking and left me in awe of God’s creation! Rome was also incredible and full of so much history! My favorite place was the Colosseum where the gladiators used to fight!

Sunday- Free time for most of the day, but I attended a Jesus Encounter at night. The most interesting Jesus Encounter I attended was with the Romanians! We studied the Bible in three different languages, it was awesome! You can read about it (along with many more stories) on my blog at www.heismakingmenew.blogspot.com.

As you can see, there is so much to tell! God used my time in Italy to open my eyes to the spiritual darkness that is around the world. The Italian people might not be as physically needy as some countries, but they are desperately needy in the spiritual sense. The people have no hope and you can sense their desperation. Their hearts are very so hardened which makes it difficult to get them to listen or talk about God. Please pray for the Avant missionaries that are still living there for the next two years. They have sacrificed a tremendous amount to move overseas and love a people group that gives them nothing in return. If you are interested in financially supporting an international missionary, please let me know and I will give you more information.

Thank you so much for joining me in this incredible experience. God also used my experience to affirm that I want to go into full time ministry after I graduate. In Italy I was constantly relating the things I was learning back to college ministry in America. I am so excited to return to USC this fall to spend time with my sorority sisters and share the good news of Jesus with them!  I will also be a Student Intern with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) this year so I’m looking forward to giving more of my time to that ministry! Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support. You are a tremendous blessing in my life! Ciao!

In Christ,
Kelsey