Recently I (Daniel) was privileged to return to Northern Italy to join the Arco Church of God at the 3rd annual Italian ChoG Youth Camp. If you would like to contribute towards ministry in Northern Italy (including next year's youth camp!), please donate HERE.
|2018 N. Italian Church of God Youth Camp|
|The Church of God worships at the base of the giant rock-mountain.|
|Dan and Marcos & Katherine Lovaglio meeting each other.|
Our church in Arco really is a shining example of what the Church should look like. It is comprised of many different nationalities, many different native languages, and it is primarily led by the young people. Additionally, it exists and even thrives in the midst of a very difficult climate for evangelical Christianity. Regional Coordinator Patrick Nachtigall has written a great article pointing out some of the obstacles towards Evangelical Christianity HERE.
Two years ago, Christy and I (Daniel) were privileged to attend the first youth camp in N. Italy. Although we reside in Holland, such ministry endeavors are part of our job description with Three Worlds as coordinators of Europe X.
Northern Italy is a beautiful, but hard landscape. The natural beauty is stunning as rugged mountains (Dolomites & Alps) are juxtaposed by some of the cleanest lakes on the planet. Pictures do not do justice to the incredible views that abound everywhere.
|View of our large Retreat Center in Bolbeno.|
|View from the Retreat Center.|
Because it is Italy, obviously there is the predominant presence of Catholicism. Each little town has at least historic remnants of Catholicism. And yet the majority of the people are only nominally (or culturally) Catholic, embracing the connection because of familial or cultural tradition. In contrast, the young people who make up the youth camp are some of the most passionate, dedicated, truly Evangelical Christians you could ever meet. More than lighting a candle periodically, this group wants to really and truly be the Light of Christ to their communities and world.
|Outside worship site.|
|Inside worship site.|
A common Sunday morning occurrence in the prevailing culture is doing something sporty, like this bike race.
And yet for the young people of our Arco Church of God and their ecumenical brothers and sisters, this is a common Sunday morning occurrence: Worship.
The camp itself looked like any other youth camp. Well, aside from the diverse makeup. Of the approximate 21 people, there were 10 nationalities represented. Common languages of Italian, Spanish, English and German were spoken.
The days were consumed by morning devotions, breakfast, morning worship, lunch, free time, guys/girls time (Q&A, private conversations), dinner, evening worship, and late-night shenanigans which further cemented the crucial NEED for coffee the following morning.
|There were much-needed mid-afternoon coffee breaks, too!|
Here are a few pictures and youtube video links of games and free-time activities!
Free-time overview: https://youtu.be/beKHlbxI8n0
|Everyone cheers for Joshua! G-O-A-L!!!|
"He will put on his Messi jersey and I will be Ronaldo, and in the power of the Love of God...we will kill each other."
The Showdown: https://youtu.be/isR8a6q2S38
Late night game-time: https://youtu.be/UlVmDC12Smc
PURPOSE OF THE CAMP
As much fun as free-time was, the main purpose of the camp is to support the network of youth as they seek to live as a generation that reflects the light of Christ. I must say, they really are setting "an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
Here are a couple more links to clips of the worship times:
This year's camp theme was: "Live Before Dying." The main thrust of the teaching sessions was centered around living out our lives as disciples of Jesus in the midst of a spiritually dark world. Everyone dies, but we must live abundant lives that have eternal purpose.
One young man, for the first time, professed faith in Jesus Christ. He said:
"I want to say that it has been an intense three days for me.
Now I feel that God is no longer close to me.
Now, God is in my heart."
As he shared this news, the joy and contentment plastered across his face was absolutely incredible to see.
One young lady professed: "Even if I could not see him, it feels like God was right in front of me this weekend."
Another remarked: "Once you let God in and start to be the center of your life, you start to see the changes."
And this could have been heard from everyone present: "Every year I'm waiting for this camp."
|Dan & Ademir! Double trouble.|
"This is a crazy group. But you are crazy for Jesus."
--Ademir, first-time visitor from Fritzlar Bible School, Germany.
|Marvin, Happy, Luis & Daniel.|
WILL YOU SUPPORT WHAT GOD IS DOING IN N. ITALY?
We are privileged to be connected with these young leaders and congregations. They are doing some amazing things, especially considering the difficult spiritual environment they are working in. Will you please join us in:
- Celebrating what God is doing in Northern Italy?
- Praying for what God is continuing to do in Northern Italy?
- Supporting the work of God in Northern Italy?
|Marcos & Katherine Lovaglio w/ Gato. Also pictured is Ruben, photobomber extraordinaire.|
|Annual Camp Selfie|
"The friendship that we have is the strength of this group because we wait the whole year to see each other again."
|Pray for God's Church in Northern Italy!!!|