On Sunday 4 July Rose and I and a bunch of OMers jumped in the OM Ferrari (Giorgio) and headed out of town at 9.45 to go to church! About the same time as a normal Sunday but this week we were going to visit a church in Prato which is near Florence.The drive is roughly 4-5hours depending on
traffic and whatever mood Giorgio is in on the day. The Lord gave us a safe passage and very little traffic hassle to get to Prato and as we arrived in town gradually as we neared the church it seemed like although we knew we were in Italy it looked more like downtown Beijing! The signs became almost entirely Chinese. As we pulled up to the church we could not see any Italians in sight – only Chinese.
The purpose of this trip was to make a link with this church which will be receiving a team to participate in an outreach this summer. Our information and contacts for this had always been second hand and we wanted to try and at least see what the church looked like before we sent people there. So we turned up unannounced but as we walked through the door we were welcomed ( in Chinese of course) and eventually we were speaking with a Chinese believer who spoke English.
The church is a few very large warehouses which seem to go on and on forever! Moses was our host – I thought it was a great name for someone who would be leading us through a cultural wilderness for us – and he explained everything that was happening and also that the service would last at least 2hours – not including Communion! He suggested that we could take a seat in the sideroom (which is almost as large as the worship/service area) and we could talk about what we hope would happen in the summer etc.
We had a great time talking and getting a lot of information about the state of the church there and the struggle that many believers have because legally they are not meant to be there for different reasons. They then took us back in to the church area and we participated in communion (ably translated by Moses) and then after this we received a welcome from the youth group of the church. We were fed with some wonderful Chinese food and then we had a great time discussing evangelism with the youth group in a mixture of Chinese and English.
This was an amazing time of blessing as the Lord has gone before us and prepared everything. We ended up getting back home at 2.30am – very tired but all extremely sure that the Lord knows all things and provides for our every need. a great day and an amazing church but I am still not sure whether I left Italy or not!!