Stefano & Jennifer Mariotti

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church-planting in Budrio, Italy

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Where Was God on September 11? - A sense of wonder...

A week has passed since the end of the events we organized to commemorate the 9/11 in New York. It is has been a true humbling experience to see what God has done last week. We would never ever have been able to organise something like this with our own strength.

High School in San Lazzaro
Indeed, till the week before, it looked like all the schools in Bologna who had previously agreed to have the talk of Thomas Buchta (the Christian policeman who was there in NY the 9/11) were cancelling for various reasons.

We were aware that Satan was at work in all this, but we were also aware that our God is in control and so we let Him operate.

So amazingly, the schools that seemed the most closed, were the ones in which we had the biggest impact.

New York Street Games in San Lazzaro
In the High School of San Lazzaro, where till the last minute we thought we could'nt do much, in the end Tom was able to share his testimony that God was right there on 9/11, with about 350 students. In the week we reckon we spoke to more than 1.600 Middle & High School and University students!

So the Saturday morning after we held a meeting in the High School of San Lazzaro, we invited the students to come to play some New York Street Games with us. Some came and even some from the other High School we had visited on the Wednesday.

John Blanchard at the public library of San Lazzaro

We also arranged that these games were the activity for that week of the My Space programme we are doing for the teenagers in our churches and for those non-Christian teens who came from the Exch@nge champ we organised last summer.

Quite a few of them came, and some of the teens from the schools and even some of the non-Christian parents of the YP from My Space, stayed for the all conference we held at the public library in San Lazzaro where Dr. John Blanchard spoke about "Where was God on September 11?"
Tom speking at the Sunday service

On Sunday for the very first time, we had a joint service organized by 8 local churches in cooperation with IFES, Campus Crusade, Youth for Christ and a Christian bookshop in Bologna. Each church closed their building and we joined together for this evangelistic service in a Cinema hall.

Tom introduced the service with the words from Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (ESV)

Then John Blanchard preached to about 250 people about "Where is God when things go wrong?". 
Many non-Christians were there that morning and quite a few commented about how they felt that the message spoke directly to them.
John Blanchard preaching at the Sunday service
Again some of the students from the school we visited during the week came and many contacts from the various churches were there.

We offered each of them Bibles and John Blanchard's booklet: "Why Believe the Bible?". More than 50 Bibles and booklets were given to non-Christians that Sunday.

The leaders of the local churches involved expressed the desire to repeat the experience of having a joint evangelistic service, so we do hope that this will have been the first of many...

It is with a true sense of wonder that we think back at what God has done last week. We are also looking forward with expectation to see the fruits the Lord will bring out of the seeds that have been planted. So please do pray for all the young people and adults that during the week have been presented with the reality of Jesus' power to save the lost!

From left to right: Joanne and Thomas Buchta, John Blanchard, MaryAnn, Dominic and Danielle Dantona, Stefano
Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to the team from NY and John Blanchard. We have been deeply moved by their sense of Christian calling and their desire to serve the worldwide church of Christ.