Reflections on returning from Italy
I'm using some very cool technology at the moment--connected to the Internet and blogging somewhere west of Greenland at 35,000. This new Airbus A340-600 has a lot of cool new features including putting a window in the lavatories. It's like rolling luggage. Why did it take so long to think of that!
My time in Italy was really good. Greg and Charmaine Lillestrand led the Worldwide Student Network for at least a dozen years after pioneering works in Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union when the wall broke down. Now that they have moved to Italy and recruited a first class, top draft pick leadership team I'm really looking forward to what God will do through them. One thing to be sure...to create a different future we can't do the same things...even more or better...that we've done in the past. And doing different begins with perceiving and thinking different about Italy. Here's a couple examples. Many say that the students of Italy and Western Europe are indifferent to spiritual things. But 300,000 Italian youth traveled to Germany for the last World Youth Day where Pope Benedict spoke. Donald Malcolm (former director of Agape Italia) said than when interviewed, and asked why they travelled so far, on national television, none mentioned the church or Pope but talked about wanting to get closer to Jesus! What we need to begin saying is "Italian students are very interested in spiritual things, but we are yet to figure out ways to connect with them!" Many Christian workers think they are bringing God to Italy. Go figure! He has been working here for centuries. We enter into a broad stream of his ongoing work. At all times he has used less-than-perfect means (of which we are but one in a long series), but he has been at work and we enter into that work. For statistics of believers in Italy we rely too much on the statistics from evangelical churches. Would the Lord say there are 3-5% of Christ-followers in Italy? I don't think so. This summer Liz and I spent a couple of weeks in Italy with John and Nancy Lamb in the Trent to Rome Class. We saw so many evidences of God at work in Italy! We just have to look with new eyes.
The second part of the conference was held in a hotel south of Florence in the Tuscan hills about a mile from Machiavelli's villa. Very beautiful country. We finished the conference on Saturday night, which left Sunday mostly free. The staff who stuck around had meetings which left me the afternoon to wander through the Ufizzi Museum--the oldest such museum in the world. What a treat! After a two hour wait in line (I should have made a reservation when I first arrived in Florence) I spent four hours wandering the floors getting my fill of Renaissance art and culture. The Mind of Leonardo DaVinci was also on display with many never publically displayed items on...well...display. What a treat! I'll enclose a couple of pics including Botticelli's Primavera and one of a dog who was taking notes on my messages....Go figure!