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Church Planting Europe Field Story Italy

Rendezvous at the Bread Shop

"The plain truth of God’s Word convicted him and he became speechless."

     In 2016 Roberta and I were in the midst of “Mission Calabria”, a week long evangelistic outreach in my hometown and surrounding area near the tip of the Italian boot. Every year since 2014 we have been distributing 500 Scripture calendars in six towns. After Roberta and I had finished the distribution in a small town, where as a child I used to go with my mom to sell figs or peaches, we stopped at the local bakery to buy some bread. Vittoria, waited on us and gladly took the last calendar we had. We said to her: “People stop here everyday to buy bread. This calendar will provide daily bread from God’s Word for the whole year.”
     The next day we drove an hour from where I was born to an ancient monastery built in 1095. It houses eight monks who live in isolation. Since women are not allowed in, Roberta waited outside the walled building, while I met with the Prior who wanted to thank me personally for the yearly gift we bring.
     “And what, may I ask, has inspired you to spread God’s Word through this beautiful calendar?” I shared how I came to Christ and that from that day, it has been my desire to share the good news with anyone, anytime and anywhere. I came out of the monastery, and began to eagerly share with Roberta about the good visit I just had with the Prior; but I saw two men whom I perceived to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I made a beeline towards them. I have a deep burden for “JWs” and have shared the Gospel with literally hundreds of them. Generally I give my testimony, and then ask them to share theirs. They usually give the same answer: “I studied the Bible with the “JWs” and I acquired accurate knowledge; I got baptized and now I go from house to house to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom."
     Since the Watchtower teaches that Jesus did not rise from the dead in bodily form, I limit my conversation to 1 Cor. 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Pietro, one of the two, was particularly frustrated as he tried in vain to show that Jesus was raised only as a spirit. In the meantime two couples moved closer to us and listened with much interest to our entire dialogue.
     When I read, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn 2:19), Pietro got loud and argumentative… until I read the verse that followed: “But He was speaking about the temple of His body.” The plain truth of God’s Word convicted him and he became speechless. I lovingly encouraged him to put aside the teachings of men and place his trust in Jesus, and in Him alone.
     A year later, in August 2017 I returned to Calabria by myself and Roberta reminded me: “Don’t forget to bring Vittoria a New Testament when you stop by the bakery to give her the calendar!” With great anticipation I drove to the bread shop, but she wasn’t there. I inquired about Vittoria and the lady behind the counter told me that her daughter had finished for the day. I told her: “I have something to give her on behalf of my wife. She picked up the phone and in a couple of minutes Vittoria came in wearing a big smile.
     As I handed Vittoria the special gift, the baker came in and walked behind the counter. He looked at me and said: “I know you! I have seen you before!” I replied, ‘I don’t think so. Maybe you saw me delivering calendars in town’. He stared at me and said, “I remember! We had a long conversation outside the monastery last year.” I was astonished. I suggested we resume the conversation of the year before. He got his Bible, Vittoria and I opened our Bible apps; his wife listened attentively.
     We studied for over an hour, occasionally “interrupted” by customers. His wife and daughter, very unhappy that Pietro is following a cult, tried to persuade him that Jesus indeed rose from the dead in bodily form. Before I left, Pietro did something very unusual for a JW. He said: “I really like you!”, then he came around the counter and gave me a big hug. In august 2018 I plan to return to Calabria. You can be sure that one of my first stops will be at Pietro’s bread shop, and not just for Vittoria’s sake.
     Please join us in prayer that Pietro, his wife and Vittoria will eat the Bread of Life and have the hunger of their hearts forever satisfied.

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