Friday, November 27, 2009

Developing a light in the darkness

Once upon the time, Rome was the headquarters of the church in the Western world. While it still is the center of Catholicism, the message of Christ is, at best, marginalized in this culture. This is a postmodern nation. The Catholic Church is a part of the culture, but that does not equate to faith in Christ. Italy is by most measure a dark world.

The good news is that Christ has not abandoned Italy. He loves these people and is working to bring salvation to them. I am excited about the work that God is doing through a humble church called Il Faro. Il Faro is the project for two American missionaries, Tim Monahan and Tim Faulkner. The leadership doesn't stop with the missionaries. There are also 3 volunteer Italian pastors leading this team with a plan to turn the senior leadership over to a well qualified man named Luigi.

What amazes me about Il Faro is that they represent 3 clear cultural groups (Italian, American, African), yet they are in all ways (excluding language) unified in purpose and in worship. When I walked into the church service, I witnessed a beautiful mix of Americans (predominately service men, women and families) and Neapolitan Italians with a few African immigrants, all in one room worshiping together. Music and style tastes are put aside. All songs are sung in a blend of English and Italian, one line in one language repeated in the other.

It's beautiful to hear someone pray to our Lord in an unknown language. It always reminds me that our God is greater than any culture. The leadership team at Il Faro knows this fact and have used the greatness of God and his singular mission of reaching the world as a centerpiece to draw the church together. The members all know this common mission. The leaders constantly challenge them to live the mission. As a result, they are, in all reality, one church.

Speaking with Tim Faulkner this morning, he reminds me that this is a result, a direct result, of the work of Grace Point. Through our support, our prayer and much wise counsel, Grace Point has helped to unify this church. The two Tim's and the other pastors are all very different in their mix of personalities and gifts, and that mix is a benefit for this church.

I have visited other churches this week. They are all different and all being used one way or another for delivering God's Word to the Italian people, but none as effectively as Il Faro in Naples. I hope that the people of Grace Point know the value of their work. It isn't in creating a big project or by counting the number of professions of faith that come from a outreach event. The value of this church and our participation in it is our long-term commitment to strong leadership, wise counsel and prayer.

Il Faro is a light to Naples. Grace Point is a part of providing that light to the darkness of this community. God is working through all of us.

Praise God. And Happy Thanksgiving.