A Tearful Goodbye

Last night we had dinner with a Cru staff couple, and three STINTers (STINT is a one year international internship with Cru). Matt and Ashley, a young married couple on STINT left yesterday to return to the United States after a year of serving in Bologna. Last summer an Italian student became a believer through a year long friendship built with a student who came on summer project, and has developed a deep friendship with Matt over this year. Matt has been meeting with him, teaching him about Jesus and how to grow in his faith. As Matt and Ashley were leaving dinner, our friend started to cry. This seems normal in America when we say goodbye to friends that we know we wont see for a long period of time, but this specific encounter was much different. I looked over to another one of our teammates who looked at us and said "we have no idea what that feels like." Our friend is staying in Bologna and saying goodbye to his closest friends, to his Christian community. We are that community. The reality is staggering and hit me all over again.

As I've been processing the past 6 weeks, God has knit my heart closer to the heart of our Italian friends. There are few followers of Christ here, so when our team leaves, these friends who are new believers are left with just each other. Imagine your church right now. Any church in Dallas for that matter. Now imagine two Italian college students. I have roughly 1,000 people in my church back home, they have 10.

Today we said our goodbyes to many sweet friends. It still blows my mind that they have come to trust us and love us so deeply within a few short weeks. I can't help but believe it's the light of Christ overflowing from our lives that they feel such a strong connection to. It was a tearful night, friend after friend asking "when will you be back in Bologna?" I don't know.

If you are reading this, would you consider praying consistently for the city of Bologna and the people here? Pray for the two new believers at the University of Bologna involved with Agape. That they would grow in friendship with each other and plug in to the evangelical church in town, where they can meet other Italian believers their age and build community.

Would you even pray about coming for 1-6 weeks or longer to dig up the soil and plant gospel seeds here in Italy? It is a hard place, in desperate need of laborers willing to love the Italian people.  Thanks for praying as the seeds that were planted here this summer take root and grow over the years.

Natasha Red