Sunday, May 27, 2012

Italy- Experiences from Bologna

With only a few hours left on the vote section, I decided to post about some of my service experiences in Bologna! I know, I should have waited for the time to be done. But as I've said before this is MY blog, so deal with it!
Studies can be hard to track down sometimes. They are elusive...
DISCLAIMER: I am going to be avoiding the use of names, so bear with me. Trust me, it helps. :]

When I finally met with one of my studies again (he keeps disappearing, sort of like an African Ninja), he seemed very disturbed. He was hesitant to say much of anything at first. Normally we consider some information from the BT book, and then we cover any questions that he may have, but this time I could tell that something was on his mind. So we decided to cover his questions first.
Normally, his questions are very scriptural. For instance:
  • "If I marry outside of the faith, is it considered fornication in God's eyes?"
  • "How can I live to please God?"
  • "How can my relationship with God help me be happy even though I live through difficult times?"
This time, however, it was a bit different. And it caught me off guard.
"When you leave for America, who is going to continue my study?"
I have to admit, that got me a little emotional. Why?

The studies that we develop here with the friends from Africa are not simply 'Studies' with 'Africans'. They are developing friendships, all with the tears and smiles that are included in a 'typical' friendship. We learn of their history, of what causes their deepest pains, and we show how the scriptures can bring them from the 'Valley of Deep Shadow'. Though they may not know it, they encourage us just as much as we encourage them. They are assisted from friendship and the scriptures, and we are assisted from watching the truth open up before their eyes, the pain in their faces ease, and the regrets of the past become experiences that act as a catalyst for growth.
Because of this, hearing my study as he expresses a worry that this will end when I leave hit a soft part of Trevor. Part of this questions was I think in part because I was unable to find him for some time, and when I finally did find him again, he said that he has been suffering since our studies stopped. In what was only about a week period, you could see on his face how he dropped from not having a study about the bible.
This was where I told him the importance of of developing his own relationship with Jehovah. Then, when his study conductor is gone, he doesn't suffer spiritually.

"I have no friends here in the (refugee) camp because they do not share my belief in God," He said, " So when the day is done, I return to my room, read my bible, and sleep." When asked where he can find ones that encourage his spirituality, he wasn't sure. After that, I shared with him Hebrews so he could see for himself the importance of having that 'Interchange of Encouragement.'
"Where did they get their encouragement?" I asked.
"From the ministry." He said.
I replied: "Not quite. Who was he speaking with? Not with unbelievers, but with the brothers in the faith. He was telling this to those that already shared their beliefs. So where could these ones with the same faith meet together for spiritual encouragement?"
After thinking for a moment, he said: "The congregation." 
I think at that point, he started to understand.

Moving on.
Accompanying a brother on HIS study, he brought out a point I liked. Speaking about our daily bible reading, he said:
"Imagine a man decided to give you $1,440 everyday for no service. All he asks is that you set $10 aside in a bank account. Would you accept this offer?"
"Of course, I would accept." The student answered.
"This is similar to what Jehovah has given us. Each day, he has given us 1,440 minutes each day. Is it too much to ask that we give him 10 back for our bible reading?"
I liked it. I'm stealing it, and using it in a talk one day.

Finally, I wanted to share an illustration from the brother that gave the talk today. I liked it quite a bit.
The talk outline was: Why We as Christians are Different.

"One day a farmer finds in his field a small wolf puppy, abandoned. He knows that wolves pose a problem to his sheep, but he wants to give this puppy a chance. So he raises it himself. The puppy grows up with food, warmth, a home, and they love each other very much. One day, though, as he is now more grown, he is at the edge of the farm near the fence when he sees a pack of wild wolves. When they see him, they say: 
"What are you doing in there? Jump the fence and come with us! You can do whatever you want, and you can live free!"
"Hm..." The wolf puppy thinks to himself, "To live free? That sounds like fun!"
So the puppy leaves the farm, and for a long time he was free, doing what ever he wanted. Then came winter, though, and the wolves were all cold. They had no food, and no home. The wolf leader, a very evil wolf, said: "Lets go to the farm and take the sheep so we can eat!" 

The wolf puppy tried to stop them, but they refused to listen. So they all went to the farm, and started taking the sheep. However, the farmer heard the noise, and raced out with his gun. 
He started to kill each one, until finally only the wolf puppy was left. Cowering in the corner, he begged: "Don't shoot! Its me, the wolf puppy! You raised me, and you love me! Remember?" 
The farmer looked at the wolf puppy for a moment, and raised his gun.
"You don't sound like the puppy I don't look like the puppy I raised, and you're not acting like the puppy I raised. I don't know you."
What it boils down to is this: Will Jehovah recognize us when he comes to destroy the wicked? Will he be able to identify us as His by the way we sound, look, and act? Or will we look like a wolf?

Whew. Honestly, I desperately wanted the farmer to spare the puppy, but the puppy chose his fate.
So dear readers, what do you say? What are we going to be recognized as? A friend belonging to Jehovah, or a wolf belonging to the wicked?

WHEW. More to come, later, readers. I'll include the post about my current roommates. All of them (but Zech) are going to Israel this Wednesday! First up, Eric! Maybe. If I remember.

ps. I decided to label each post. That way it might be at least a little bit easier to navigate the archives so you know from what part of the world that particular post was written. :]

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