I was on the go for two weeks, stopping at home a night or two here and there. Settling in again at home to work on the computer, I noticed lots of pictures of daffodils in friends’ FaceBook posts. I had seen bright yellow mimosa blooming south of Rome and little lavender violets in Assisi, but I had to go out and check for daffodils in my street, and, sure enough, I spotted some with my camera zoom in the yard across the street! You could miss them easily in the picture, but they are there!
Here and there, the creation is birthing. Even as the last snow on the peaks of the Appennini (the mountains that run down the middle of Italy) melts, the water plays its part; some is absorbed into the cracks in the granite where moss and fern will find light and grow and some flows further down to awaken grass seed and nourish roots where sheep and cattle will later graze in the warm May sunshine.
Here and there, the Creator is also birthing. At Reggio Calabria, the historically Italian Baptist church is welcoming as sisters and brothers the Filipino church that has shared their building for more than 15 years. And the Filipino church, whose leader told me it was harder for his group to accept the Italians than for the Italians to accept the Filipinos, provides 15 of the 17 members on the worship team. All songs are sung in English and Italian, and while the sermon is preached in Italian to reinforce the importance of being functional in Italian, the sermon is displayed in English on a screen.
In the afternoon, I spoke about human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The listeners identified personally with the suffering of exploitative work, as many of them receive less than minimum wage, and a woman engaged in ministry to migrant farm workers in fields an hour or more away thought out loud about how the national program for victims of trafficking might be a resource for the exploited laborers she knows. The Creator trickles water down into places that have been dry cracks—seeds that have been given up for dead in the cold of winter but which can sprout new life when given a chance.
On International Women’s Day, March 8, I shared at Amina e Arte (Art and Soul) in Rome, an event in a jazz club sponsored by the Italian Campus Crusade and Scripture Union. The songs, poems, photos, and video clips focused on the plight of women and girls in prostitution in Italy. The audience, mostly university students, listened intently as I told about Emma’s journey and how many women like Emma are exploited. These students can make a difference by not becoming clients, by discouraging friends and family members from being clients, and by having the courage to report suspicious situations that might involve trafficking, even befriending the women concerned in safe settings.
The birthing process of having opportunities to share in churches like at Reggio Calabria and in events like the one for students at Rome is long. Sometimes the scattered seeds seem to have fallen into crevices where lack of light and water holds them dormant. But, as we wake to daffodils that seem to have burst forth overnight, sometimes we wake up to see that the Creator has called into flower our efforts.
This morning there was a blossom from an outreach group in another city. Individuals within the church had long had a burden to reach out to women on the street who work at night in front of their church. Church leaders participated in the organizational meeting I planned last September to create a network of Evangelicals in Italy to work together to address the many aspects of prostitution. Someone from this church said that day, “We want to reach out to the women, but we hear that organized crime is involved and we don’t know whether it would be safe.”
A seed that was planted 4 years ago, when I asked a Baptist pastor here whether she had ever felt in danger when working with the women in the street. I shared with this fearful woman what the pastor had said: “The reality is that the traffickers are not worried about the impact a few Christians will have. Yes, you should have a safe plan when you go out. But, traffickers think that if one woman leaves prostitution, there is a long line of others ready to come and take her place.”
A group from this church has overcome their fear, going out and making contact with the women. What a joy it is to receive an email from the group which names several women they have met and tells a little of their stories. Led by an Italian law student whose area of interest is in human rights, the group found that the two women who work right in front of the church’s sign were even willing to come into the church and meet the group that stays inside and prays while the outreach team goes out!
Thank you for being a part of the planting and the watering and harvesting!
Oh, Creator, continue to give us all courage to scatter the seeds! Cause us to be water and light! Bring to flower your creation! Water those who are thirsty and brighten the dark corners in us that draw our attention and cause us to miss the wonder of the daffodils and the mimosa and the violets! Amen.
We have reached 70% of our goal of ministry support. It is critical at this time that we take on the challenge of reaching the summit—100%! If you are not already giving consistently, it would be wonderful for you to water this ministry at this time! You can pledge online at www.internationalministries.org. Go to “Give” and then look for Kelseys. Or, send a check marked “Kelseys-Ongoing Support” to International Ministries, PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851. If you plan to give consistently (monthly, quarterly, annually) please indicate that, as well, as we are required to demonstrate that our mission work will be sustained long term.
Please pray with us for:
-The women with whom the new outreach team has contact
-Courage for minors to take the opportunities offered them to escape the street
-Emma, who reports that she is engaged but does not seem happy about it
-Our son Luke’s college decision
-Our July 2012-2013 US/Puerto Rico assignment (email us to schedule a visit)