One week of international ministry: complete! This past week has been full of new friendships and good conversations. Our first goal has been to get to know as many students as possible, and if the opportunity comes up, to share our beliefs with them. Most of these friendships have started just from us walking up and initiating conversations. Sometimes, we use surveys or other Cru tools to steer conversation towards spiritual things, and other times, we just walk up to students and befriend them.
One thing that has been really cool about ministry in Italy is that students in Italy are very available and willing to invest in friendships. One student named Damiano actually started a conversation with us, and we ended up going to get coffee with him. Before we knew it, we had spent three hours talking with him! Later that night, we attended an event called an Aperativo, where a restaurant offers a buffet for a cover charge. The STINTers have been using Aparativo at a specific restaurant as a chance to invite students to come practice their English. This has been an effective way for them to develop friendships with students, and joining them for their event was a great insight into their ministry. I talked with three European students for another three hours that night, and plan to continue meeting with them!
One other notable conversation I had was with a student named Jalal. My friend and I met Jalal while he was waiting for a class to begin. Jalal grew up Muslim in Pakistan for 20 years before traveling the world and deciding that religion is nonsense. We talked about philosophy for about 45 minutes, mostly discussing whether absolute truth is something we can understand, and if Christianity could provide any of the answers we are looking for. Jalal enjoyed our conversation, and we are setting up a time to meet with him again over coffee or dinner.
Our first week of meeting students has given me around eight new contacts, most of whom are interested in meeting up again and continuing the relationship.
Now that we have initiated some friendships, our next goal is to develop those friendships and get to know the students on a deeper level. Please pray for the following things over this next week:
- That Jalal would be open to more discussions about the role of faith in our lives
- That Damiano would be interested in hearing our perspective on the bible
- The rest of the team and I have met many other students. Pray that these students would be willing to meet up so we can get to know them better.
- Initiating and meeting with students is already getting a bit exhausting. Please pray that God would give me the strength to endure for these next few weeks, and that I could continue to effectively be His ambassador to the students.
- We have been very encouraged with the number of opportunities Christ has given us to start friendships so far, so thank God that the logistics have worked out so well.