Stefano & Jennifer Mariotti

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church-planting in Budrio, Italy

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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Home groups - monthly prayer meeting

Tomorrow evening we'll have our monthly prayer meeting in homes.

This month we'll continue to pray for the work of missionaries in China and Senegal.

We'll pray specifically for India:

From the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2011:
Amidst violence and oppressive anti-conversion laws, Christians in India are continuing to stand up for the cause of Christ and bear witness to His truth and love.
Pastor Walter was at home with his wife and seven-year-old daughter on a Sunday afternoon when two Hindu men came to their home in the Geejghar Vihar suburb of Jaipur, India. When the men asked Pastor Walter if he would tell them about Jesus, he gladly began to share God's Word with them. During the discussion, one of the men asked the other, "Shall we start?" That's when the attack began. It started with just the two men assaulting Pastor Walter, punching him again and again. But soon four militants wearing masks barged into Pastor Walter's home and joined in the violence, using wooden sticks to beat him all over his body while his family looked on in fear. His family members wouldn't be the only ones to witness the shocking assault. The militants had taken video equipment into the pastor's home and had captured their brutal actions on film. The footage of the attack was later shown on a television network, along with video of the militants putting on their masks just before launching their attack. Pastor Walter was severely injured in the violence. Although the militants had broken his body, they did not break his resolve to share Christ throughout India and raise awareness for the nation's persecuted believers. 
"I am not scared, he said. ― I will continue the work I have been doing for the last 17 years." Persecution is commonplace for many Christians in the largest democracy in the world. While individuals like Pastor Walter face attacks and threats, whole communities have also been targeted. Christians face continued opposition due to the deterioration of freedoms under the influence of militant Hinduism, or Hindutva. This Hindu extremism, which strives for a Hindu-only society in India, has fueled anti-conversion laws that are now enforced in five states — Gujarat, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh — and have been passed but not yet implemented in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. Such legislation was created to curb religious conversions allegedly made by "force," "fraud" or "allurement." However, Christians and human rights groups believe the laws actually obstruct all conversions, as Hindu nationalists invoke it to harass Christian workers with arrests and imprisonments, which are often accompanied with violence against the accused. Anti conversion laws can carry severe penalties for believers. In Gujarat, for example, those convicted of "forcible conversion" could be jailed for up to three years.
Prior to Pastor Walter's attack, about 10 families, most of them of Hindu background, were regular members at the church he leads out of his home. Afterwards, however, some of the newer families stopped attending, saying they were too scared to take part in the services. Such a change would be hard for any pastor to bear. But Pastor Walter hoped his determination to carry on his work of evangelism would bring more Hindus to his church. "I will never quit this Good News ministry," he said.

We'll pray also particularly for the work at the PENNE ORPHANAGE INDIA MINISTRIES POIM where the Evangelical Church in Ferrara is involved. From their website:
The orphange was established  in 2007 through the initiative of  Dileep Raaja. He was an actor (he has acted in 20 films and directed  60  films for television)  and was asked to direct a Christian telefilm  for a American association called “ Gospel to the Unreached Millions”. Suddenly his life was transformed: and he returned to his Christian origins.  With open eyes he looked at his country after years in the world of cinema.  He was deeply moved at number of children abandoned on the roads and began to take  them in from tram stops, stations and from near the churches where they are begging .   Soon he finds himself with 60 kids on his hands.  He stopped working for the cinema and decided to continue his profession as a director serving only Christian missions.  His salary dropped from 20,000 dollars to only 5,000 dollars per film.  Using his savings he rented large  premises where he housed the children and started to look after them. Soon afterwards he needed to move some of the children to other centres because his financial position didn’t allow him to take proper care of  more than 30 small children. His wife, who at first supported him in this, finally couldn’t  cope with this new ‘family’ and in 2003 she filed for a divorce.  Since then he has carried on alone, looking after the children with the help of volunteers.  All the little ones, aged from 4 to 13, are schooled, cared for and loved. In December 2008, after a serious illness, he got married again.  His wife’s name is Prabhavathi.  He says he didn’t want to leave the orphanage without a leader  in case he fell ill again. At the moment the orphanage cares for 24 full time children and about 10 ‘floaters’ who belong to families who take them back  for periods which vary  according to the need of work in the fields. 
Since the non-profit making  Association ‘Renata di Francia’  (RenĂ©e of France)  took to heart this situation, the life of the children has improved considerably ;  there is now a teacher who lives in and teaches all the primary school age  children.  Some of the children are orphans.   But most have one living parent , usually  a widowed mother who can’t provide for  her family alone. For the last two years, according to available space, the orphanage has housed children from very poor families who normally  wouldn’t receive schooling.   This children  would otherwise be sent to work at the age of 5 or 6. The 4 oldest boys, aged 14 to 16, attend professional schools and are housed apart from the rest.   The girls, unfortunately, are given in marriage  by their families when they are about 13 years old -  and by family it’s meant any relation, close or not, who claims relation ties. Our work is therefore concerned mostly with the girls.  We try to persuade the families to let them attend school until they are 16. Every year, volunteers of the ‘Renata di Francia’ Association visit the orphanage  which is in Vemuru  (Tenali)  in the State of Andhra Pradesh, to check on the situation  and  provide help.  In January  200 sq. metres  of land was bought,  enough to build a large house to accommodate the orphanage. This decision was made because of continuous and exhausting moves the orphanage has had to make. The desire is to develop an Evangelical Christian Centre which would permanently house the orphanage. Thanks to the generous contribution of many friends, the foundations have been completed before the monsoon season ( June )  we are now collecting funds for another step forward.