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Dear friends,

This year 2021 has been welcomed as the turning point of the pandemic and as a new beginning. The facts have proved how false these expectations were. For me personally, this year has proved to be more difficult than the last one. I feared that restrictions related to public health concerns could eventually lead to restricting church life and our freedom to assemble together to worship. Praise be to the Lord that this hasn’t happened! In a time when many are divided about new and controversial issues, praise the Lord our small gathering here in Milazzo has been sustained by a sense of unity and common understanding.

I feel the weight of all these matters greatly, personally and as the sheep of the people of God. In this burdening situation, I got a great deal of consolation and encouragement from Acts 4:23-31. Here the early church didn’t pray only for boldness only, but also for blessings attending the preaching of the Gospel. These blessings will prove that the Lord is with them and eventually will encourage the church in her witnessing work. Waiting for the Lord’s blessing right in the midst of a difficult time: that is the thought that has given me strength and comfort. Seeing this in the scriptures has led me to pray the similar result for our own church, and the Lord has given me some signs that he is at work among us.

A Russian lady along with her Italian husband has started to attend the church in Milazzo. They come from a pentecostal and are looking for deeper and holistic preaching of the Gospel. During the last summer, I started visiting two families in a village on the East Coast of Sicily, about an hour and a half from Milazzo. The way in which they come to the knowledge of the truth is amazing. A lady first came to know the Bible through a Pentecostal nurse during hospitalization in a very sad situation, then the Lord has lead her to a better understanding of the Gospel through the recorded sermons of brother Paul Washer. She then shared the Gospel with another lady that, during the pandemic, started reading the Bible on her telephone. I believe the Lord is working even in their husbands’ hearts.

The Lord has also given us, as a church, the grace to have the first baptismal service. It was even the first baptism I administered and I had the privilege to baptize my sister. That was a great encouragement for all the church. Please pray that wisdom, grace, and courage might be given to me to handle this situation well. Please pray for the protection of God’s people, that our freedom to gather together and lead an ordinary church life may be maintained and that these very sad circumstances would be used by God to draw us nearer to him and revive his church.

Yours in Christ,

Francesco Pollicino.