“You’re moving to Italy? When can we visit?!”
Whenever we share that we’re re-locating to Tuscany, people’s eyes light up. Rolling hills, cypress trees lining winding roads, guaranteed golden sunshine, endless vineyards and olive groves, and of course the world-famous gelato … who wouldn’t want to live there?
As a linguist, living overseas has always been something I’ve relished. Getting to know John, we spoke from the start about the possibility of serving God together abroad.
Over the past six years we’ve seen the darkness that shrouds Italy, an unseen veil over all that dazzles and delights. And whilst we have an eternal hope, 99% of Italians do not, and very few will have the opportunity to hear of the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.
We trust that God has many more worshippers in Italy, and so with the encouragement of our church and UFM, we want to join the Italian church in sharing this good news.
Nourishing our roots
Yet that feels a world away, as right now we’re in the knotty process of uprooting ourselves from life as we know it, and keeping those roots sufficiently nourished until we can sink them down into new soil. It’s all the expected tensions – packing up home whilst living in it; looking for somewhere to live there whilst being here; shepherding the children through their fears as we navigate our own; seeking to love friends well yet preparing to pull back before long.
Then there’s the double blow of Brexit and Covid-19, and all the complications they add in. We have had periods of heavy- heartedness as the leaving process progresses, grieving what we are letting go of and missing out on, particularly the time we are unable to spend with loved ones.
Looking forward to home
For all that is familiar about Italy; and though the flight is short, and the food tasty; it is not our home. Ahead of us loom years of language and culture learning, of building bridges into close-knit communities. And even then, there’s no guarantee that we will ever truly belong.
And it’s here that God whispers to us, “That’s ok: trust me”. It has dawned on us afresh that we’re not meant to feel at home in Italy, or even in the UK. Because it is only in this world
re-made that we will be finally rooted, finally home.
God blesses our hearts as we think of Jesus, our brother, leaving the most glorious culture conceivable, to enter the mire of this world, that he might win a people to enjoy his Father’s family forever.
Walking by faith
And so we long to follow in the steps of our Saviour, leaving much that we know and love, that we might rejoice to see more people join the family. We have begun to taste the sweetness of partnership with our supporters: what a privilege to labour together, as the going and the praying and the giving go hand-in- hand. On top of that, we’re delighted to be part of UFM and be reminded of Jesus’ global work, of which we are all a part.
We cannot see the way ahead and it is daunting. But over the past months Paul’s words have really resonated with us: we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). We’d love you to pray that in this time of transition we would truly live this out as a family. Pray too that God would grow his church in Italy.