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Pray for Debbie and Jim Kelsey, ministering to African immigrants and congregations in Italy.

June 14, 2012

Debbie and Jim assist the Evangelical Christian Baptist Union of Italy in ministry to English-speaking immigrant, particularly African, congregations. Debbie also ministers to young women at-risk or victimized by human trafficking and prostitution. They will soon return to the United States for their U.S./Puerto Rico Assignment.

They write: Many thanks for your prayers for all of us in Italy these days!  We are about 90 miles from the area hardest-hit by the earthquake and aftershocks.  The “big one” early in the morning of Sunday, May 20, woke Jim and the boys but did no obvious damage to structures in our area.  (Debbie was in Wisconsin for International Ministries’ World Mission Conference at the time.)  The largest aftershocks of the past week were noticeable here at Padua and damaged some structures which were apparently weakened by the earlier quake.

The Veneto, our region, had already made international news for a rash of suicides related to people’s despair at the ongoing economic crisis.  Many factories have closed, many family businesses are suffering, and many city, regional, and national entities are unable to pay their bills.  Immigrant men who have lost their jobs and whose wives don’t have work are sending their wives and children back to Africa where they can live on less.  The men will scrape together whatever work they can find and send money home.

Luca, my favorite grocery clerk, who’s always been cheerful, said to me this morning, “I’m telling you.  If you can get out of this country, you should.  I’m Italian, and I’m saying it.”  I’m not sure what drove his hopelessness:  fear of another earthquake hitting closer to home, the economic crisis, or cynicism about the will and power of people in Italy to change things.  But, his outlook is very different from that of one of our Nigerian friends who sells socks and tissues and helps people carry their groceries to their cars for change.  When I asked that friend his thoughts on the earthquake, he responded, “I am a child of God!  I am not worried that an earthquake is going to swallow me up!”  

•    Continue to pray for all of us children of God in Italy as we share the hope which being a child of God gives us!  
•    Ask the Lord to  help us to use our preparations for our return to the US (for a time of visiting you our supporters) as a springboard for conversations about hope and faith.