We have now entered the homestretch of our meetings in Rome. This is actually the best part of any evangelistic series. This is the time when we get to personally hang out with our guests and get to know them better.
This is also the time when many indicate their decision for Jesus, their commitment to keep the Sabbath, and their desire to be baptized. There’s such a warm feeling inside when you hear people make such decisions. Suddenly all the headaches, problems and sacrifices are all worth it.
These last few days, Shawn and I have been meeting with a ton of people. The other day we sat down with a man who has been attending the meetings regularly. Before the visit we wondered how it would go: Is he accepting the things he is hearing?
Well, the visit was nothing less than awesome. The man revealed that in spite of his pastor’s chastisement for coming to our meetings, everything he had learned at the Adventist church was indeed from the Bible and it made perfect sense.
He is determined to attend every meeting to the very end. He also told us that his greatest desire in life is to tell others about Jesus. Let me tell you, he’s not wasting any time doing that. He comes early to the meetings every night and he mingles with the other guests—encouraging them in their journey with Jesus. He is quite a sight to behold.
On a personal note, Shawn and I are often together when doing visits. Poor Shawn—he has to be so patient with me as I attempt to relay his words in broken Italian. Thus, he has to keep his comments very simple. What is funny is when the eyes of the people I’m translating to get very big. That’s when I know I said something odd and/or funny. Oops! Mamma mia!
Last Sunday night we had a card call regarding the Sabbath. We carefully combed through each card and discovered that the overwhelming majority of our guests have made a decision to keep the Sabbath. Praise God! However, with these decisions also come all the Sabbath-keeping challenges.
For example, one of our attendees is a barber and Saturday is his biggest day. We met with him in his barbershop and he gave Shawn, Palmer, the Italian pastor, and I a haircut. Very lovingly, Shawn encouraged him to close his shop on Sabbath and to open it on Sunday morning instead. He also suggested that he put a sign in the window to indicate the change, and when people ask him about it, he can use it as an opportunity to witness. I think he will do that. Please pray for him.
Praise God for the phenomenal work Jesus is doing through Shawn. However, without the faithful help of others none of this would be feasible. First of all, there’s the translator, Gianfranco. Gianfranco is the pastor of a four-church district in Venice. He’s taken a one-month leave of absence from his district to be here with us. His enthusiasm and passion for what we’re doing here is palpable. He’s doing a fantastic job.
Then, of course, there’s Palmer Halvorson. Palmer is the It Is Written presentation designer. The slides are beautiful every night because of him. Few realize how much work goes into preparing those slides so they are perfect for the meetings.
The leadership of the Italian Union and the local pastors are also working so hard. They are a little overwhelmed right now because they have hundreds of interests to follow up, which is a wonderful problem to have. I overhear them talking to each other—marveling at the number of guests who are coming to our meetings. They have never ever seen anything like this.
I don’t want to forget to mention all our dedicated volunteers who decorate the church, present music at our meetings, greet and register our guests, help with distributing and collecting cards during the meetings, and, most importantly, provide a children’s program. All of these people are, without question, the unheralded heroes of our meetings. It has been such an honor and privilege to work with each and every person.
Please pray especially for us as we have entered the homestretch. The meetings conclude March 6 and the battle for the soul is raging. The destiny of many will be decided during the next few days. Pray that God will prevail in every case.
—Pastor Yves Monnier