Last summer I had hosted a large prayer team from the US (see Three, Four, Five Sheets and More to the Wind!). On the morning of their arrival the Holy Spirit had told me that they would be arriving tired and hungry. So I had gone shopping for fruits, olives, and cheeses, setting out an Italian-style snack.
So now I am on a ministry trip to Boston to see Allegra (one of my ministry partners) and various prayer partners in the northeastern US. The prayer team mentioned above had invited me to come visit them at their home in New Jersey. Usually invitations are divinely inspired, and New Jersey makes a good halfway point to break up the long drive to Boston from North Carolina.
I arrived last night just before dinner. They had invited the whole team to bring a dish to share. There was a centerpiece of fresh flowers (red roses, freesia, and white mums) on the table. After the spread that I had put out for them last summer, they were anxious to do the same for me. I loved being on the receiving-end of such a thoughtful and delicious welcome.
They asked about the drive, which had taken longer than expected because of a detour through downtown Washington, D.C. I had missed an exit that would have skirted the city. I simply hadn’t been able to get into the right lane due to heavy traffic. I hadn’t even realized that I was headed into the heart of the city until the Washington Monument came looming up out of the fog, and in front of it was the Jefferson Memorial. That was when I realized that I was on that pretty stone bridge that you see in the movies. It was a beautiful drive, and although there was heavy traffic, it kept moving, so it wasn’t too terrible that I had detoured through D.C. However, it had added over an hour to the trip.
After dinner we looked at pictures from their trip to Italy. I realized with a shock that in just a couple of weeks, they had seen more of Italy than I’ve seen in my fifteen years of living there. They had met with Sally (one of my ministry partners) and some other missionaries—prayer people in various parts of Italy. I had put them in contact with those people, who had turned out to be important connections for them. Together with some people they already knew, they had places to go pray all over Italy.
I had originally been invited to come along with them on their prayer trip, and normally I would have gone. But before getting their invitation, I had a Word from the Lord that I was to stay home and concentrate on hospitality. So I had declined their invitation. Now they have invited me to come along with them on a prayer trip to Israel—a trip which will end with some time in Milan before returning to New Jersey.
They want to return to Milan because they had been unable to do much praying there because of exhaustion and lack of time. We’ll see how these plans shape up.
Meanwhile, during my stay here, they want me to speak to a group at their local House of Prayer about missions in Europe. This is an invitation I always welcome whenever I’m in the US. Sadly, after the Paris attacks, I believe that Europe may be more attractive (or at least credible) as a mission field. I hope so. I want to see more people answer that call as missionaries to Europe. God is good!