Dear Friends and Family,
It is a wonderful thing to be led by God!! A year ago, we were planning on enrolling in Russian language school, learning Kazak history and culture and traveling to Central Asia with a team of three families. Today, we are enrolling in Italian language school, learning about Italian history and culture and plan on traveling to Italy with a team of five families. The Lord has opened many doors for us to show us that this is where He wants us. It is so wonderful to be led by God!!
In the last ten months, the Lord has:
-reminded me to focus on my family
-shown me that His plans are greater than my plans -demonstrated his faithfulness over and over -provided a caring, passionate sending church to train and direct us -answered our prayers by bringing opportunities to us -raised up a strong team of five families in an amazingly short amount of time -provided a possible living link situation for three of the five families (including 56% of our monthly committed support goal) -opened numerous doors for ministry in Italy
I could write a book on the details behind the above provisions, but I will refrain. Suffice it to say, we are going to plant churches in Italy! Based on the Lord’s direction, advice of the few missionaries presently in Italy, and our observations from our survey trip in June, we are formulating a ministry plan. When the Lord first introduced us to the idea of going to Italy, I chuckled thinking, “Italy, I might as well stay here in the U.S.” My desire has always been to plant churches in areas of the world where there was no work being done. But as I studied, I found out that there are only half a dozen Christian churches in Italy, most of them in the far south of the country. We talked to one of the missionaries in the south who told us that in all her years of counseling Italian women, she can’t remember one who hasn’t had an abortion. It is a VERY commonly used form of birth control there. Lamaze classes are offered by hospitals for up to $800 making it very difficult for most people to afford. Being able to speak English and use a computer are coveted job skills in the part of Italy where we will be. As more and more mothers seek to work outside the home, the Italian culture is seeing the need for quality childcare and for emotional encouragement. Based on all these and more observations, out initial outreach plan is to try to provide for these needs as you will see below.
We have a tentative departure date of February 8th. We will move to Perugia, Italy and study language and culture at the University for Foreigners, which was highly recommended by most people we talked to. We will study language there anywhere from six months to a year before moving to our target city of Ancona. Ancona is a major port city on the Adriatic (east) coast of Italy located on the elbow of the coast (the Greek word for elbow is ‘ankon’). The population is around 100,000 and is about 15 kilometers from a major airport. There is a very nice university in town and its location is very central. About a four-hour drive from Rome, Venice or Pisa and a ride on the train from any other major city or most European countries, Ancona is the ideal place to start a church planting movement in Italy.
Upon our arrival in Ancona, we will begin a storefront ministry where we will rent a building in a prominent location and offer English classes, computer classes, Lamaze instruction, counseling, a Children’s Reading Room, and other various practical lessons. The goal is to have a building and a structure that is very flexible that is easily adaptable to change or to meet new needs as they arise. We also will offer Bible courses for those who are interested. The goal however, is really to just meet people and through interacting, teaching and living with them, to invite them to our homes for Bible study. As these Bible studies grow in the homes of the missionary families, we will begin to incorporate them into a larger, corporate group. We are calling this ‘An Anchor in Ancona.’ We are praying for twelve leaders to arise among the believers that we may train them to take over the work so that we may leave the church after five or six years in the hands of native Italians. That’s it in a nutshell; we have more literature available if you are interested.
This team is a PACE Project in cooperation with Team Expansion and Shively Christian Church, both in Louisville, KY. I am the team leader and so my responsibilities will focus on the health of the team. I am responsible for meeting with team members monthly, resolving conflicts and serving whatever needs arise. If you would like to see my job description, please request one. The various other couples are filling other roles such as Youth Minister, Worship/Counseling Minister, Campus Outreach Director as those areas evolve. All five families attended Team Expansion’s Pre-Field Orientation this summer and I am so excited to see the diverse personality and gifts the Lord has brought to His team! Only by depending on Him, will this work be accomplished.
Here is our appeal to you. We ask for your help in reaching these two goals:
1. 100 Daily Prayer Supporters. We are looking for 100 people to pray daily for us and for the work in Ancona. You would be our prayer warriors at home, preparing the way for His Name to be known in that city. We will send our daily prayer supporters regular updates so you are always praying for a current need, for people by name and in preparation of events to come.
2. $1500/month in financial support. We already have around $2230 in committed monthly support raised We are asking you to help us raise the remaining amount. This means 20 people committing to $25/month and 10 at $50/month and 5 at $100/month. We only need 35 more people who are willing to commit to giving monthly for us to reach our goal. This financial support will pay for our living expenses as well as ministry expenses. For a detailed breakdown of our budget, please write or email us. Thanks!
Whatever the Lord lays on your heart to do, please accept our earnest “Thank you!” The beauty of this work is that it is a partnership between you, us and the Lord for people we have never met but that He is longing to be in relationship with.
For Christ and for Italy,
Jason, Heather and Jacob