First of all, I would like to thank you for all of your prayers. This month I went to my Class Reunion and I want you to know that it went really well. In fact, God opened the door for me to share about the gospel and we did not stop talking until 2 o’clock in the morning.
What made the reunion very special was the attendance of a particular professor—to the amazement of us all. This professor was my English teacher. All the students knew that she was terrible to me. She always gave me very low grades because I was an Evangelical and she was a radically devoted Catholic. This is something that often happens to Evangelical students in Italy, but she was the worst of the worst.
When my professor learned that I had studied at the London Theological Seminary (UK), was a Baptist pastor in Mantova, and had translated more than fifty Christian books into Italian, she was really shocked. A funny moment happened when she asked all of us, “On what occasion was I every really bad to any of you?” Everyone looked at me and I wanted to die. However, my gracious and polite response to her caused my friends to really think about my Evangelical faith because they all knew how bad she was to me during all those years at school.
During the reunion meal, someone began to talk about life and faith. My friend Andrea (another Andrea), who is Catholic and yet a strong critic of the Catholic church (like many in Italy), spoke first. He said that the most important thing was love, that God is love, and that we should love one another. The discussion went on for thirty minutes and I was praying deep in my heart,
“LORD, please give me the right words because the things that these people are saying are so crazy. I need to know where to start and how to speak in a wise and intelligent way.”
I really did not know when and how to get into the conversation because the people were talking so irrationally. It was like a nightmare. I could barely listen to what they were saying. I could not believe it. They were talking like “practical atheists” who were trying to appear religious. After about 40 minutes, a lady asked me: “Hey Andrea (myself), do you think the same thing? But before I could reply, my professor interrupted:
“All human are attracted by good things and to sacrifice. We are all good and we are all sons of God.”
At this point, the protestant in me rose up and God helped. For almost two hours I explained the “biblical” gospel to the group: the holiness of God, sin, repentance and grace. They all listened very carefully and asked a lot of questions. Finally, I challenged them to read and study the Bible. In response (and in order to contradict me), my old professor said that she thought that God was bigger than doctrine and teaching. For her sake and the sake of the other students who were listening, I could not be silent. I asked her, “If one of your students would have said: ‘I have a great knowledge of English, but I known nothing about its rules of grammar,’ would you have been happy?’” She could not reply to my question, but she would not acknowledge the importance of knowing biblical doctrine. It was just irrational.
At the end of the night, I gave all of my ex-classmates and my teacher a Christian calendar as a Christmas gift, and then I prayed that they might find the truth that could set them free from blindness and sin (picture at left). Thank you for your prayers. I really need them. Men are so spiritually blind that they cannot see the truth. God must intervene and open their eyes. Thanks again! It was a great opportunity.
This reunion with my classmates is an example of how hard it is to preach the Gospel in Italy. There is a very dark spiritual side to Italy that is often overlooked because of the physical beauty that God gave our country. The lack of biblical teaching, the lack of the Gospel, the lack of sound Christian churches, the lack of spiritual pastors and good preachers, the lack of faithful men, and the lack of prayer have produced all of these bad things. Please continue to pray for us.
Paul is the founder of HeartCry Missionary Society and currently serves as its missions director. He also ministered as a missionary in Peru for ten years. He has preached hundreds of sermons and has authored a dozen published works. Paul lives in Radford, Virginia, with his wife Charo and their four children: Ian, Evan, Rowan, and Bronwyn.More By Paul David Washer