My Diary: The Last Few Days and Hours
By Pastor Yves Monnier
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2
The word is now official: We will not be allowed to use the school auditorium we made arrangements for over six months ago. It's devastating news. Every bit of advertising on the buses, on the radio, and in our flyers--800,000 of them--invites people to a hall we can no longer use.
Immediately we go into emergency mode: We pray our hearts out for strength, encouragement, and wisdom. The leadership team meets on Tuesday evening to discuss "What now?" In a wonderful spirit of harmony, we put in place a new plan of attack which involves relocating our meetings to the Romanian Adventist Church about a mile and a half away.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3
With the assurance of God's blessing, everyone is marching forward with much courage. There are rough moments, though. We are placing half-page ads in the three major newspapers in Rome and updating the radio spots to redirect people to our new location. Also, we still have about 170,000 flyers to distribute, and in order to correct the location of our meetings, we have to manually place an insert in each. Let me tell you, that's a tedious task. All through this, I have not heard one person complain.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4
Our little army 35 workers are scattering throughout Rome with the "updated" flyers. They're on fire and nothing will stop them (rain, cold or gatekeepers). God has blessed us with an influx of 10 young volunteer missionaries from South America. They're all students from our Adventist university in Argentina. What beautiful young people! They're here just at the right time. They're the backbone of stuffing the brochures with inserts.
In the evening, Shawn leads out in two orientation meetings. The first meeting is with all the pastors in Rome. The second is with all the people helping out with the meetings. Let me tell you, I can feel the anticipation in the air.
Everything goes well, except Shawn's laptop crashes to the ground and is now dead. CPR could not bring it back to life. All his sermon notes for these meetings, which he has not backed up for days, were on it. Ouch! On a backup laptop he must now, from memory, recreate his notes.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5
Today is crazy. Everybody is running in every possible direction trying to get things done for tomorrow's opening. Our workers are in the field distributing flyers again. Unfortunately, it's raining and that makes their work that much harder.
Meanwhile, Shawn is rushing from interview to interview at radio and television stations. Here's the link for his television interview:
It's pretty cool. People seem to be genuinely interested in end-time events. I wonder how many people will show up tomorrow night.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6
8:00 a.m. - It's February 6, the day we open. We've been waiting and preparing for this day for weeks and months and here we finally are. In a few hours will be the moment of truth.
11 a.m. - Today, Shawn is holed up in his room as he's preparing himself for tonight and trying to finish rewriting his lost notes. In the meantime, I'm preaching at the Romanian Church. Oh, what a wonderful group of people. You can literally feel their enthusiasm for tonight. At the end of the worship service we sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." I've never heard that in Romanian before but, boy, is it powerful. It just gave me chills.
1 p.m. - No one is going home. After lunch, the members of the Romanian church are praying, distributing the last batch of flyers, and helping set up the church. It's so amazing to see all these people just focused on one thing.
3 p.m. - Now volunteers are arriving from the other Adventist churches: Lungotevere, Appian, Filipino, and Latin American. It's a wonderful blend of cultures and languages laboring harmoniously together for Jesus.
6 p.m. - The meetings open in two hours. We just had vespers with all of our volunteers. To recognize all the countries involved in this big effort, we had 12 volunteers come forward and pray in their respective language. Wow! That was powerful.
The prayers were in Bulgarian, Polish, English, Italian, Moldavian, Russian, Spanish, Romanian, Gypsy (yep, there's such a language), Arabic, Tagalog, and Portuguese. It sure felt like Acts 2. Even though I could only understand a few languages, God understood every one of them. I love it!
7 p.m. - One hour to go. Everyone's at their "battle stations." We've got people at the old hall redirecting people to the Romanian Church. We have even rented a bus to shuttle people over here.
We have people all over the neighborhood here to show people where to go for the meetings. Our greeters outside the church are full of smiles. The deacons and deaconesses are ready. Now we're waiting for the crowd to arrive. Will anyone come?
8 p.m. - It's time! And people are streaming in. It's one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. People are coming to our meetings. Hallelujah! And more are arriving. In order to give people time to arrive from the other location, we're having a mini-concert until 8:30.
8:30 p.m. - At about 8:33 p.m., Shawn and his translator, Gian Franco, walk onto the stage. The house is packed. I mean packed with only standing room! And even the fellowship hall with a closed-circuit video feed is brimming with people. People everywhere. Amazing. Beautiful. Fantastic.
In spite of the devil's deliberate attempts to thwart everything, all these weeks and months of preparation and prayer have worked. This is truly a very special moment for all the members in Rome and for me. It was so special that I had to share it with my church family in Bakersfield, California. They've been so gracious and kind to have allowed me to be a part of this project for the last few months. And they have prayed so hard as well.
So at about 8:35 p.m. in Rome, 11:35 a.m. in California, I showed them opening night here live via Skype for a few moments. Praise the Lord for the Internet. Yes, my church family actually got to see the packed auditorium and Shawn up front. They were with me here in Rome. They shared this moment of victory for Jesus with me. As I'm writing this I'm getting a little emotional.
9:30 p.m. - Shawn is preaching on Daniel 2. You can hear a pin drop even though the room is filled beyond capacity. People are soaking in every word. You can tell that they've never heard a message like this before.
10 p.m. - The meeting is over. Yes, it's late but no one seems to mind. Italians are used to late nights. I look at people's faces to see reactions. What I see are smiles and satisfaction in their eyes. Praise God. May they all come back tomorrow night.
Midnight - I'm in bed. It's been a good--no, great--looooong day. Thank you Jesus. We're all sleeping a lot more relaxed than the previous few nights. Thank you for all your prayers. It's good to be part of a worldwide church family that prays. Good night.