Imagine a group of 50 students invading the three main universities in Rome with the good news of the gospel! This is what took place from March 15-19 during a missions week organized by the Gruppi Biblici Universitari (GBU) in Rome. We’ve had several different activities during the week, from an open air debate with an atheist, to apologetic forums, to one to one conversations, to a movie discussion, open mic night, and even distribution of Nutella with a New Testament! It was maybe one of the most encouraging weeks since we’ve arrived in Italy.
For example, 180 students came to the open air debate, 120 to another debate, 50 to the movie discussion, etc. At the end of each event we gave out an evaluation form in which we asked if the person would be interested in being part of a six-week course to explore Christianity, and 80 students said yes! Praise God! Since then we’ve been having 3 groups with these seekers (one at each university) and many coffee appointments to talk about God. Inla, a law student, has visited our church and said that she wants to come back. Leonardo, a philosophy student, said he wants to have a weekly “coffee appointment” to talk about his questions about God. Andrea, a political science student, not only is coming every week to the Bible study, but invited four of his friends to came along with their questions. Please pray that God will be very present in the lives of these students who are seeking him and that He could use us in this process.
The highlight of the mission week were the two debates with atheists in which I took part. The first took place at a literary cafè next to Roma Tre University, where I debated the president of the Italian union of atheists and agnostics, and the second debate took place in the open air at Sapienza University, which is Europe’s largest university. 300 students attended the debates, and we could see their real desire to interact and ask honest questions. Many have joined one of the three seeker Bible studies we are running at the universities. Both debates were filmed, and you can watch them at youtube.com/cesanlorenzo.
After three monthly services at the end of 2011, our church officially launched with weekly services on January 15th. It has been thrilling to see this community take shape, and the many non-Christians and new Christians who are attending. A solid group has formed of about 40 people, and there is a constant stream of newcomers who are visiting and joining the church. “It was the intelligent, mature church I was looking for,” said Giancarlo, who found us through the church’s website. “Thank you for caring for people like me who see a dim light in the horizon.” Besides the Sunday service, we meet for pizza and a Bible study on Wednesday evenings, and for special activities once a month, like cleaning up the neighborhood’s park and celebrating a “Return to the Origins” service at the catacombs where the first Christians met.
Please join us in thanking God for an encouraging week, and pray that these new friends would come to understand the gospel clearly!