Alfred Kamara suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of the night. Without warning and within moments, he had gone from life to death. Over the next few days I sat and spoke with his African community about funeral arrangements, care for his widowed wife, and the Gospel. The last conversation I had with him was regarding membership at our church and his understanding of the Gospel.
Thousands of people attempt to make their way to Italy against impossible odds. Physical danger and eternal paperwork and changing politics threaten the hopes of these people at every step. Understand that the African community is largely unwelcome in Italy, and therefore Africans regularly hold the most menial of jobs when there is work offered. Their rights rarely concern government officials or employers. Whether as refugees or visa holders, their living conditions are often the poorest possible. Kamara had arrived from Sierra Leone to Italy 20 years ago, he had a job, was recently married and truly loved those around him. I’ve heard countless stories of his kindness from both the African and Italian community.
“I thank God”.
This is the response I get from every believing African to whom I ask, “How are you?” Cultural or intentional, I don’t know, but as a believer, it should be our answer, no matter what circumstances we are facing. Romans 1:21 explains that the wrath of God is revealed against mankind because they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs believers to give thanks in all circumstances. This is the posture of the believer who acknowledges that God has done all that is necessary for our eternal salvation through Christ Jesus. The work that affords us eternal life is accomplished. Gratitude must be given, not as penance, but as genuine rejoicing in the undeserved benefit of a personal relationship with life’s Maker. With this lens, everything else that God has richly provided us can be seen as the additional grace that it is.
The Gospel spreads through the most unlikely of people. God chose to display his glory through the foolish, the weak, the low and despised (1 Cor. 1:27-28) who hear the Gospel and believe. Much of the groundwork of Gospel spreading in church history comes through the common man telling his neighbors, family and community about hope in Jesus while they display a changed life to the world around them
The wealthy in this life are warned of the temptations to which they unwittingly succumb (1 Tim. 6:6-10). The poor are tempted to despair in their lack, lest they know the incalculable price paid for their eternity. Timothy is to charge the wealthy to hope in God, not money; to do good, be generous and plan for life after this one (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Oddly enough, this charge is often better lived out by those who have little to nothing than by those who have much. Case in point: an estimated 150 people attended the meeting to discuss arrangements for Alfred’s funeral and offer their assistance. Within a few hours, the money was put forth by those in attendance to more than cover the funeral price of 2,500 euros.
I thank God for the opportunity to build relationships within the African communities. I thank God that I have been given the opportunity to preach the Gospel to a crowd that will include many Muslims. I thank God that he has provided all that we need for life in Italy and godliness among the unsaved. I thank God for the many who give sacrificially to the work of the Gospel among international communities here in Italy.
Alfred Kamara did not have much according to worldly standards. But, he had the one thing that mattered, life in Christ. His life and death is a testimony to the community as one who took hold of that which is truly life (1 Tim. 6:19).
Don’t Be Afraid, Trust Me
In route back to Texas, our transmission began to slip. Knowing that this was a potentially serious issue, we decided to change our route and stop in Demming, New Mexico. If you haven't been to Demming, it is beautiful, but remote. The following morning, we discovered that the truck transmission needed major repairs that we could not afford. The only thing we could do was pray...so we did. Before we had time to ponder what employment opportunities in Demming may afford us a new transmission, the Lord had begun to work. The same day we received a quote for the repairs, we decided to attend a Bible study at the RV park where we were staying. The small group of participants were excited to get to know us and hear about our calling to missions and hear stories about missionary life overseas. We were encouraged that night to be surrounded by God's people, but continued to wonder if we would be living in Demming for several months.
The next morning, I hitched a ride back into town to check on the truck. But before we left the RV park, I was ushered into the park's office where I was handed an envelope full of money. God had answered our prayers! Several individuals in the park heard about our situation and calling and wanted to help. Through the sweet people at that RV park, along with others, the cost of the transmission repairs were completely covered within 24 hours! On top of that, the park owners would not let us pay for our lodging! This is just one way God has begun to provide for and confirm his leading on our life. THANK YOU LORD! Thank you all who are choosing to join us!
Are we the only ones?
Jeff Christopherson has been teaching me about church planting through his book, Kingdom First. Although written for church planting in North America, the idea of God's Kingdom reigning over every place and people remains true. Deep into the book, I was profoundly encouraged to come across this paragraph where Jeff is recognizing the needs of multiple nationalities living in neighborhoods that are no longer homogenous.
The world is coming to the cities of North America at an unprecedented rate. Communities that have been historically homogenous are now a mosaic of cultures and nationalities. But coming with this immigration is often a deep and overwhelming sense of disappointment. The dream of a new life is often replaced with the cold reality of repeating a similar life to the one they left, but this time they are living it all alone. Transplanted into a new context, often with out any familial ties or cultural skill, immigrants are forced to navigate a plan of survival alone and unaided. Disappointed and lonely, hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing tremendous loss associated with relocating and would be extremely receptive to a relationship with you and your new church. By ministering to internationals, you fulfill a biblical mandate, you have the joy of meeting a great need, you discover an audience often ready for the gospel, you plant a church that reflects the multicultural reality of heaven, and you position your new church in a way that is attractive to other Kingdom seekers. Jeff Christopherson, Kingdom First, p. 172.
Thank you Jeff for articulating it so well! This is the heart-beat of our calling. Although we are called to cities abroad that are facing massive movements of peoples through their city limits, we recognize the desperate need for North American churches to WAKE UP to the realities of their neighborhoods and begin thinking about how to engage the world just outside of their church walls. If we can be a resource of encouragement to the pastor or layman, we want to urge you to carry the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation across your street. One day, that neighbor from a different corner of the earth may stand next to you before the throne in eternal worship of our great God.
Can you guess from these photos below??
The Hollands are headed to Rome, Italy!
Rome International Church has invited us to be their next pastor!
Rome International was planted a little over a year ago. They have been on a search for a new pastor and asked us over a year ago to consider taking over this plant. We visited this church during our vision trip last June. The church focuses on the expat, transient people in Rome using English as a means to reach the widest demographic of Internationals. This includes Italians, foreign diplomats, & refugees.
The Lord has been faithful to reveal each step in our journey. During the months to come, we will be inviting others to partner with us in this calling both through prayer and financial giving. Please pray for us as we prepare for pastoring this church. Our desire is to make disciples by introducing the transient people of Rome to the Gospel Jesus Christ.
4.3 million people living in the metropolitan area of Rome.
The city has a population of approximately 4.5 million living in the metropolitan area with an average density of 5,781 people per square mile.
Rome hosts individuals from around the world that work for international organizations and multiple embassies.
Rome is a major port for receiving refugees from Africa or Central Asia, many of whom speak English. These refugees comprise a major portion of the 8,000+ homeless residing in Rome.
Rome ranked third highest in Europe for most tourists visiting in 2015.
About 9.5% of Rome's population is non-Italian.
God will make a way.
Our boys like to jam to this song when we have family worship time and they get to make as much noise as they like to Jesus. :)
We are transient people who find our home in Christ. We write about transient living, Missions, and why we are here on this earth.