Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve here…I imagine many of you have been visiting family, friends and faraway places through the summer months. I trust you have been refreshed and enriched by your time away.
Marilyn and I are getting ready to attend our Fellowship International European Conference. We will be ministering among our missionaries that serve in that part of the world. We are looking forward to fellowshipping with Mario and Rose Bruno who have been church planting in Rome. They have been faithful, godly witnesses for the Gospel and our churches among religious Italians for decades. I have been aware of their ministry since my days as a young seminarian at CBS (Central Baptist Seminary now Heritage College and Seminary).
I thought in this email I would share a story from Mario to give you a feel for his ministry in Rome. This update is from several months ago:
The pupils of the two grade 5 classes of an elementary school in Rome walked excitedly into the auditorium and behind them came their teachers and a Roman Catholic nun. I was at their school to explain to them the meaning of my faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, the importance of reading the Bible and creation (intelligent design) versus evolution. I was given an hour and a half in which to do it. We were then to repeat the whole presentation with another two grade 5 classes and their teachers. In all there were just over one hundred who were present. The school’s teacher of religion had invited me to speak to the children. “Mario, you can talk about anything you want” is what he told me.
I had assumed, wrongly, that the nun was one of their teachers. One of the parents later told me the school, being a state school, does not have nuns or priests as teachers. The nun had been sent by the local parish priest for reasons that I can only guess.
As we set up a table and the material the teacher of religion asked: “Mario, would you mind if I videoed part of this session. I want to put it on the school’s blog so that anyone who wishes may see it?” I was more than glad for that.
I had a university student from our church come with me so that she could help me but, more importantly, could learn from the meeting. Because she studied Latin and Greek for five years in High School she read from the Greek New Testament for the children.
I began by explaining how I, being born in Italy into a Roman Catholic family, was now serving the Lord as a member of an evangelical church. Using Matthew 7:13-14 as my basis I explained that there were only two doors, two ways, two crowds and two destinies. No third choice. My parents gave a religion but not knowledge of God. That I learned through reading the Word of God. I explained how I found true spiritual life in Jesus Christ
One of the teachers interjected that if a person lived a good life as a Buddhist there was no reason why they could not be acceptable to God. The teacher of religion agreed with her that as long as someone faithfully followed their faith, God would accept them. That put me in the delicate position of having to explain, without offending, that Jesus was the only way to God according to Acts 4:12, John 14:6 and 1 Timothy 2:5 and all others lead to destruction. Copying the example of Jesus I used a modern-day parable. “If a man were sick and went to three different doctors,” I said, “and after the exact same tests and diagnosis each doctor gave the man a completely different treatment: ‘radical surgery’, said the first; ‘some medicine taken for two weeks’, said the second; ‘a change in diet and a bit of exercise’, said the third. All three couldn’t be the right path to health. Only one would lead to full restoration. So God is not schizophrenic to tell different people different ways to heal our sickness called sin.” Both teachers didn’t respond so I assume they accepted my answer.
Before leaving I gave each of the teachers a calendar that has a Bible verse on the front of the tear-off page and a meditation on that verse on the back. One of the teachers said she would hang it in the class so she could read it with her students each morning.
Thank you for your partnership with us in the cause of Christ.
May His grace be upon you.
Mario and Rose
Thank you Mario and Rose for being our Fellowship’s faithful ambassadors to Rome for so many years. Only heaven knows the wonderful fruit of your labour.
Have a blessed week,