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Buongiorno Da Italia!

We hope this newsletter finds you all in the best of spiritual and physical health. I often think of John's greeting to Gaius in 1st John 1:2, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." I ask myself sometimes, "What would my health be like if my body was in the same shape as my soul?" I hope that the answer for all of us is that we would be vibrant and strong. 

We have had a great two months here in Italy with lots of opportunities to work in multiple cities. God has truly been blessing us with opportunities to do His work and we are thankful to YOU for putting us in a position where can take advantage of those opportunities. Thank you for allowing us to share some of what we've been doing here. As always, we love hearing from you! Please feel free to respond and let us know how you are doing. Also, feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone who may be interested in reading it. 

A New Brother in Christ! 

This month we are so pleased to inform you that there is a new brother in Christ in Florence! His name is Jerry. He is originally from Nigeria, but has lived in Italy for around 12 years (if I am remembering correctly). He is married to an Italian woman and they have two children aged 4 and 2.

Jerry has been searching for the truth for much of his life and has studied with people from most every denominational group.  Jerry happened to find the World Bible School website and started studying. He mentioned to his uncle that he was using this resource and his uncle, a preacher in Nigeria, told him. "That is a program from my church. They will help you learn the truth." Jerry went through the program and decided he was ready to be baptized. They were able to contact an Italian preacher named Franco Verardi who lives in southern Italy, but works all over the country. He happened to be in Pistoia (the town just north of Florence where we also work) and he arranged to meet and baptize Jerry. 

Jerry lives closer to Florence so he is attending here. He works as a truck driver and cannot come every Sunday due to his schedule, but he told me after September (when his contract ends) he is going to try and find another job that will allow him to attend every Sunday. This past Sunday when we spent some time together he told me, "I want to learn the Bible well enough so I can preach and bring others to Christ." He is especially interested in teaching his wife. 

Jerry and I are now studying to help him grow further. He has asked me for books covering first principals. If you know of any great books for new Christians please let me know so I can recommend them to him. Also, if your congregation has sermons that he can easily access from his smartphone and listen to while he drives his truck please send me a link to that site. 

Please keep Jerry in your prayers! 

 

Expanding Our Net

Several years ago when we first started our work a more experienced missionary asked me, "Scott, do you know what you should do if you knock on 1,000 doors and only have one baptism?" I answered that I did not and he said, "Knock on 1,000 more." That's a principal that I have tried to live by since then.

Italy has a population of around 60 million souls. The European continent's population is roughly 741 million (a little more than twice that of the United States). Yet, there are precious few congregations of the Lord's church in Italy and Europe, and those congregations almost all number less than 50, and are made up mostly of people over 60 years old. It is safe to say that, generally speaking, there is less interest in spiritual things and the Gospel in Europe than there is in countries like India and places like Central America and Africa. However, this summer we have seen 5 people baptized in Northern Italy. That means there are some who are searching for God and we need to be available to help them. 

To that end we are now in communication with several congregations in Italy. We have recently visited in Milan, where I will hopefully visit again to preach in October. I am preaching in Pistoia, a city where I have 6 students, once a month. I have recently preached in Rome and will preach there again this coming Sunday. This past Sunday we visited the congregation in Taranto (pronounced TAH-rahn-toe, with emphasis on the first syllable) where I had the opportunity to preach. Taranto is located in what we think of as the boot heel of Italy, about an 8 hour drive from Florence. The congregation has around 20 active members and seems to be very faithful. I have recently picked up a student in Vicenza a city near Venice on the Northeastern coast of Italy. Vicenza has a very active congregation which we hope to visit soon.  

Everyone of these congregations has asked us, in some cases begged us, to come and work with them full time. How we wish we could work with each one! We, obviously, cannot do that full time, but we can and are helping them. We plan to visit each place at least once a year (but, hopefully more frequently) to preach the Gospel and encourage them. We are talking to three congregations about conducting at least annual Gospel meetings. But, most importantly we are asking them to actively recruit English through the Bible students for us. One thing that the lockdown has taught us is that we can teach people the Gospel electronically. While we much prefer working with people face to face, we do not want to neglect this great opportunity the Lord has blessed us with. This means that we are now working to preach the Gospel in almost every part of Italy, from the Northern city of Milan, to the Northeastern city of Vicenza, to the central city of Rome and down to the extreme south of Taranto. We also continue to labor right here in what we consider our home city of Florence. 

We ask you to continue to pray for us as we labor. Please pray to God that we will find those souls who are searching. I believe that they are out there and like Cornelius in Acts 10 God will give them an opportunity to hear His word, but it is up to us to be available for those opportunities.  
 
The congregation at Taranto. 
Vito Ligorio one of the leaders of the Taranto congregation. 
The Taranto church building. If you look closely you can see a princess in the bottom right corner. 
"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things" Romans 10:15b. The faces are sometimes ugly, but the feet are beautiful (just don't look too closely). 
The cities we have been blessed to visit and work in. There is so much work to do here and we are thankful for every opportunity. 

Personal Stuff

The Shanahan family continues to do well. We have recently moved to a new house. Our first apartment was great and we love our old landlords, but this new apartment has a great outdoor space that is very hard to find in the city. We also have a little more space and a better office situation for us to study in. 

Violet is doing very well. She turned 7 in July and had a great birthday. We had a party with a great mixture of people from the church and from outside of the church. This was a great opportunity for some of our non-Christian friends to be exposed to other Christians and get to know them. One family that we invited has now been out to the Bible school twice to eat a meal and let our kids play together, and we've had them over to our house and they've had us and another family from Avanti Italia to there house. While we have not had any spiritual discussions with them we are hopeful that we have made a good impression on them as Christians. 

One of the things we've done this summer is that we've taken Violet to a park near our house almost every evening. She has made several new friends as a result (including Dimitri a 6 year old boy Ukranian boy who has decided Violet is his girlfriend). We have also been able to meet a lot of their parents and have started to build relationships with them as well. We've had some great conversations with people and are hopeful that we can share the Gospel with them in the future. 

Violet will start school next week. School does not officially start until the 14th, but her school offers the students to come a week early for review and to get back in the habit. She will just have half days that first week and her best friend Tahlia will be there. We decided to take advantage of this week since she has not been in school since March 5th. We are hopeful that the school year will progress normally, but there is some fear of a spike in Covid cases which could result in online schooling again. 

Her Italian has improved greatly over the summer. She understands more than either Rebecca or I, and I think in the next few months she will surpass us in speaking it as well. She still sucks her thumb, which her dentist is not happy about, but on the other hand I am pretty sure we are putting her dentist's son through college so she really shouldn't complain.

We love you all and pray God's blessing on each one of you! 

 
Cookout at our new place. 
A good time was had by all at Violet's 7th birthday party. 
Violet wanted to dress as Elsa for her birthday and insisted that Tahlia did too, so they could be twins (though twins who DO NOT share a birthday). 
Violet and Dimitri. Scott's not sure how to feel about this. 
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