Your Mission, should you choose to accept it: Italy

Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It: ITALY
By Zina Zander
This summer I went to Italy with Youth In Mission, a Nazarene organization that recruits college students to give two months of their summer in missions.

YIM hopes that students can learn to respond to differences with acceptance and to conflict with flexibility. As Scott Daniels’ mom says, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”. One of the ways God does this is through the week of training provided by YIM. The training seminars involve topics such as sharing your faith through testimony and preaching, learning how to minister with intentionality to children, youth and adults. One can do this by serving with a humble attitude, leading someone to Christ, or playing soccer simply to make friends. It can also mean learning the language because it shows people that you have an interest in their lives.

Our team, or il squadra d’Italia, consisted of two boys and two girls, Andrew (Andrea) Morris, Paul (Paolo) Manbeck, Beth (Bet) Bleadingheiser, and me. We went to Firenze, or Florence, for three and a half weeks and to Catania, for three weeks. Our site emphasis was friendship evangelism, which means letting people know how much God loves them by building and maintaining a God-loving relationship with them.

One lesson that I learned through YIM is that Christianity is about how we live as Christ with and in community and not just how I grow closer to God. God commands us, “Amerai il prossimo tuo come te stesso” (Matteo 22: 39), or, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 39). We did this in a variety of ways.

We led worship, gave testimonies, and preached during service. We prayed. We discipled the youth in a teen camp and ministered with them. We prayed. We worked together in gardening, picking up trash, and unloading bricks for the new building with humble and joyful attitudes. We prayed. We helped out with the church’s weekly game night, which is an outreach event for the people in the neighborhood to come play soccer, cards, or socialize. We prayed for health, for hearts to be opened to God, and for team unity.

We also visited local cafes and talked with the people who worked and visited there. We met Andrea, a 16 year old boy, who works at a chiosco, or drink stand. He makes the best limone-fragola granitas (strawberry-lemon slushies). He does not know Christ. We prayed to have an opportunity to hang out with him and his friends and soon after, they took us bowling and to the beach. We also prayed for him to come to church and he did. Although he did not come to know Christ while we were there, we continue to pray for him.

Although I have realized that missions can be done anywhere, it took going into an unfamiliar environment in order for me to see the daily opportunities for ministry.