One of the greatest blessings in my recent trip to Prato, Italy was the lessons I learned from the Lord as I saw Him at work through His people. I naturally enjoyed seeing how God is at work in Ryan’s life. I see that Ryan is growing in his trust and confidence in the Lord. I see him growing as a servant to influence others for the Lord. I see him growing to be more dependent upon the Lord and more interdependent in his relationships with others. I also enjoyed visiting with the missionaries and the AIM coordinators in Prato, Mike and Anto Mahan. Mike is an ex-AIMer who was in school at Sunset about the time Sherry and I returned from Mexico. Anto is Italian and does a wonderful job of encouraging, mothering and helping the AIM team with language and cultural learning. I enjoyed my talks with Mike and Anto. It reminds me that often those of us in ministry, particularly in mission work need to talk to others who share our ministry experience. Mike has been laboring in Italy for over 15 years and is one of the longest serving missionaries now in the country even though he is from a younger generation. I also enjoyed listening how God has worked in the lives of Roger and Heather Mahan who serve in Pistoia. I was so encouraged to hear of their faithfulness even through difficult and lonely times. I have great respect for missionaries who are faithful and persevering.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned came from the AIM team itself; Shae Baker, Josie Collins, Osiris Hernandez, Ryan Jarboe and Matt Tracy. I spent time with them in a devotional on their day off. They encouraged me with their joyful, heart-felt singing and I was instructed through their insight into Scripture as they read 1 Peter and shared what God was teaching them through the text. I heard them apply the word of God to their lives as they saw those who were aliens and strangers, yet called to live faithful, holy and Christ-like lives in a world that is not their own. I listened with a strong sense of humility realizing I was in the midst of people truly living for the Lord, struggling to be obedient disciples.
I was able to understand some of the Italians using a mix of Spanish, Italian, English and pure guess work. I was encouraged by their passion for word of God and for their service to one another. I smiled as one of the sisters came to me and pointed to Ryan and made sure I knew that he is a “good boy, doing a good work with the church.” A parent needs to hear comments like that every once and while.
I praise God for the lessons learned through my brothers and sisters laboring in Prato, Italy. God is at work in His kingdom. I want to continue to learn the lessons He wants to teach me.