Fashionably Early

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The statue in Turin of the defeated enemy

30 September 2016

We met Shelly at seven in the morning to prayer walk around the heart of the fashion district.  As we walked, Shelly pointed out some startling things that had been staring us in the face—things about the fashion industry that we had never bothered to question.  For example, some of the designs are so weird that you can’t imagine anyone actually shelling out good money for them—yet people do!  Of course those people don’t happen to be people like you and I.  Those people have so much money that it’s nothing to them to pay $9000 for a ridiculous dress[1] that they will only wear once.  They buy it to wear to a party or some other event for the super-rich, where there will be folks who recognize the dress from the latest fashion runway show.  At the same time it’s a way to mock the silliness of the rich women who buy these ridiculous dresses.

The other thing she pointed out was that some fashions that are so sheer that the woman wearing the dress is virtually naked.  It’s a way to rob a woman of all the beauty and mystery of her femininity and again to mock her at the same time.

The final thing she showed us is how some of the fashions are non-gender-specific.  Androgyny is rampant throughout the fashion industry.  This constitutes an all-out assault on both masculinity and femininity.  It probably started small, with the man-purse and the man-bun.  Some of the clothing could go into a gender-fluid store.  What place does traditional marriage have in such a world?

Not only that, but some of the clothing is also non-age-specific.  It’s as though the fashion industry is out to rob children of their innocence, making children’s clothing so that they look like tiny clones of Madonna or Beyoncé or Axel Rose or Fabio.  No child would ever pick out such clothing without the influence of some deranged adult.  Likewise some of the adult clothing is designed to make them look like giant babies—and none of these are Halloween costumes.  Think of the effect the fashion industry could ultimately have on the family, itself.

As we prayed and walked, I was suddenly struck with the understanding that there are many, many slaves in the fashion industry.  Of course there are the people who work in third world sweatshops, sewing for the fashion industry, but I realized that the models themselves are just as much slaves—eating little to nothing, vomiting the food eaten, lest they gain weight.  Drug abuse is rampant throughout the fashion industry.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: happy people don’t do that to themselves.  Drugs are a way of keeping people in slavery, be it prostitutes or fashion models.  Enslave the mind and you can do whatever you want to the body.

Afterward we had breakfast at a coffee shop across from La Scala Opera House.  Then after breakfast, I took the team to my favorite street market.  They wandered through the market, fascinated by all the wonderful things they saw.

After lunch at home, we went to Turin to help Missione REM with their bus ministry.  The Asheville team had brought with them 22 Bibles for Missione REM to give away to English speakers.  They gladly received them.  Italian Bibles are easily available, but English Bibles are not.

Giuseppe[2], who had picked us up from the train station, told us that there wasn’t much to do, but in fact, it turned out that there was plenty for us to do.  We encouraged them.  The Asheville team got the chance to spend an afternoon in my shoes, listening to these missionaries speak about the challenges and rewards of their ministry.  Sometimes the most encouraging thing you can do is just be there and listen.

When the nearby school let out, we watched as they sprang into action, going out to talk to the teens at the bus stop.  Some teammates went out to help with the kids who spoke English (of which there were a few) while others backed up the REM team in prayer.  There were a couple of kids who expressed an interest in knowing Jesus, and they were invited into the bus and given materials (booklets and CD’s, and two of the English Bibles we had brought) to help them make their decision for Jesus.  Of course, there were those kids who refused to talk with the REM team once they understood that this was about Jesus.  Others stood aloof or joking, poking fun at the ones who showed an interest.  And all this flurry of activity happened in a brief, twenty minute window of time.

Then we re-entered the bus to continue our visit.  Two members of the Missione REM team spoke English, so that I wasn’t the only one translating.  Isabella, being the REM teammate with more experience and better English, gave a brief explanation of the ministry focus (evangelism) and challenges, particularly there in Turin.  She told us some things that I hadn’t been aware of:

  1. The city of Turin gave permission to the satanists to practice their rites (including animal sacrifices[3]) as long as they do it underground—literally. Space was given to them underneath the streets of Turin in which to hold their meetings and sacrifices.
  2. Turin has been consecrated to the defeated enemy[4]. There is even a statue.
  3. Turin was the headquarters for the pope’s army to seek out and murder the Waldensians[5].
  4. Turin is the European capital of satanism[6].
  5. Most Torinese people practice witchcraft in their homes.
  6. Very few Torinese have ever heard the Gospel at all.

These revelations also made it very clear why Missione REM had turned their ministry focus to Turin[7].

Then Isabella told us one more thing that I hadn’t known: she said that two of Missione REM’s three buses had broken down on the way to Turin.  I knew that two of their buses were broken down, but when I heard that both had happened on the way to minister in Turin, it was suddenly very clear to me that it had been a demonic attack.  Turin is obviously a satanic stronghold.  As a prayer warrior, this made me want to do some spiritual housecleaning, so to speak.  And we did, launching into prayer for them and for the city of Turin.

Next, Billy, the head of the missions team from Asheville, shared about the missional focus of the church and the reason that they had come to Italy[8].

Isabella responded by sharing how important my ministry is to Missione REM, housing them whenever they are in Milan, giving them a place to share a meal, supporting them in prayer and encouraging them at the bus (whenever it’s in town).  I listened, marveling at how the simple things I do—things I learned over 26 years as a housewife and mother—could be so powerful and encouraging.  Isabella said that now she feels like she’s got a home with me.  It was both encouraging and humbling to hear about the value of my ministry.

Then Leo, the young pastor of a local church, came to join us.  The Holy Spirit gave me a prophetic word for him that greatly encouraged him.

When Giuseppe took us back to the train station we found that our train was delayed because of a train strike.  We finally caught a train an hour and a half after our scheduled train.  So we arrived home later than expected after an early start to the day.  But we all agreed that this was a great day.  God is good!

[1] $9000 is exactly twice what I paid for my car.

[2] You may remember Giuseppe, the recipient of the Miraculous Love Letter from God.

[3] Of course, they don’t admit to it, but there are also human sacrifices.  When I first moved to Italy over sixteen years ago, I remember reading about people finding human corpses in the woods near Turin—corpses that had obviously been ritually sacrificed.  The police always refused to comment, and the newspapers eventually quit reporting about the continuing discoveries of sacrificial victims.

[4]  I refuse to name him, but choose, rather, to remind him of his sure and certain defeat—and to remind myself (and my fellow believers) of our sure and certain ultimate victory over him.

[5] The Waldensians were actually the first Protestants, living hidden and wandering in the Alps of Italy, Switzerland, and France.  They predate Martin Luther’s Reformation by almost 400 years.  The Waldensians were severely persecuted for owning and reading Bibles, holding unauthorized prayer meetings, and not baptizing their babies into the Catholic Church.  Men, women, and children were slaughtered if they refused to convert to Catholicism (and few did).

[6] I knew it was a center for satanism in Italy, but I didn’t know about it being the European center.

[7] Of course, you probably know Turin as the place where the famous Shroud of Turin is kept.  The Shroud is housed at the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista in the Cappella della Sacra Sindone (the Chapel of the Holy Shroud).  A replica of the Shroud is permanently on display in the chapel, the Shroud itself is occasionally put on display and sometimes taken on tour in its humidity-controlled, bullet-proof frame.

I have not seen the actual Shroud, but the replica blew me away.  Whether this is the Holy Spirit testifying to the authenticity of the Shroud or just the fact that I am deeply in love with Jesus, I can’t say.  Whatever you think about the genuineness of the Shroud, here’s my thought: it may not be real, but it is true.  Think about it!

The presence of the Shroud makes Turin a Catholic pilgrimage site.  This is not to say that all Catholics are superstitious, but especially here in Italy, there is a lot of superstition mixed in with Catholicism.  So in addition to all the satanic and witchcraft elements, there is also some superstitious idolatry going on.

[8] To support my ministry of encouragement to missionaries through Prayer, Hospitality, and Collaboration, see


Wow!  Just Wow!

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MacGyver’s hand and footprints.  How did he do that?

29 September 2016

I am so humbled to think that God has used me and my team from Asheville to take back territory from the defeated enemy—and we did!  Yesterday we prayed at the Borsa (Italy’s stock market).  We were the first prayer team I know of to pray there.  And today the market dropped 33.3 points.  Three is the number of God, so three three’s is God times God (or God cubed).  That was unrighteousness taking a loss.  May they discover true value in righteous endeavors.

After that we prayed at the Ossuary of San Bernardo.  The ossuary is a chapel adjacent to the Santo Stefano Church.  Santo Stefano is the Italian name for Stephen, the first Christian martyr (see Acts, chapters 6 & 7).  Unlike other ossuaries that are decorated artistically with the bones of priests and monks and other holy men, this ossuary used the bones from a local hospital—so the bones of many people who died before their time of various diseases.  Some of those people were no doubt unrepentant toward God.  No wonder it is known as The Gates of Hell.  Three of my friends prayed there a few months earlier, and afterward each of them became sick with the flu.  This indicates that the ossuary is indeed inhabited by demons of disease and probably also death.  As we entered, the atmosphere in that place decorated in dusty bones was heavy and very oppressive.  But there was a discernible shift as we finished our prayers.  Then as we were leaving a man in an adjacent chapel began to sing a beautiful song to God.  We took this as confirmation, like a pat on the back from God, saying, “Well done!”

Then we went to pray at a place that I hadn’t even known existed: Italy’s version of the Walk of Fame.  Many stars from Italy and Hollywood have left their hand and foot prints in cement there.  So we prayed for an increase in the trend toward making more Christian films, and for Christian films to become more mainstream.

Finally we met my friend, Michele, and prayed in his neighborhood.  Before heading out to the Borsa to pray, Michele had come to my house, and told the team about his ministry and concluded with a summary of the important people and places in his neighborhood—a remarkable concentration of homes and offices of powerful and influential people as well as the seat of government for the region of Lombardy.  Right there, every day, important decisions impacting all sectors of Italian life are made: banking and finance, sport, schools, entertainment, and government both local and national.  So we did a prayer walk all around Michele’s neighborhood.  God-incidentally[1], Michele’s neighborhood was the location of my first residence for my first three months in Italy (again, the number of God!).

Afterward, we had aperitivi (a light meal consisting of appetizers) at Michele and Shelly’s house.  There the team got to meet Shelly, Michele’s wife, an American.  Shelly is a model and freelance fashion designer.  We enjoyed a lovely time of debriefing, encouragement, and getting better acquainted with one another, followed by a time of prayer.

Shelly told us about her work in the fashion industry, and invited us to come along on a prayer walk with her in the fashion district.

Yes, I am extremely privileged and humbled that God chose me and this team from my church in Asheville to come alongside Him in the work He’s doing to change and bless Italy.  Wow!  Just wow!  God is good!

[1] Because there are no coincidences with God—they are God-incidents.

Turn that Frown Upside-Down


Now it’s not one, but two broken shutters

Ever have one of those days?  Of course you have, we all have.  Well yesterday was it for me.  Here’s some of the things I vented about to my church prayer partners:

When I came home from the US, one shutter in the living room was broken (in the closed position), and I haven’t been able to get ahold of my landlord to get it fixed.  So I wrote him a note about the broken shutter and stuck it in the envelope with my rent check.  Now the other big shutter in the same room is broken and I still haven’t been able to reach my landlord.  He may be out of the country because he also hasn’t cashed my rent check.

Then I had a bunch of emails from my accountant saying that I owe a bunch of money in taxes.  I struggled (in my dark room) to get the taxes all worked out, forms printed, signed, scanned, and sent back to the accountant.

Then I had an issue and a misunderstanding with a missionary friend.  I am a missionary to missionaries, so relationships are crucially important.  But no matter what I said or what I did, it only seemed to make the situation worse.  I may have lost a friend!

Then while I was struggling in the dark with my taxes, and the misunderstanding, I was also doing laundry.  And I found that my houseguests had done laundry and hung things out.  Some things were so wet that I had to run them through a spin cycle in the hope that they would ever dry.  Now where to hang my own laundry?  So I went to work, taking down the things that were dry, re-hanging the other things, and creating space for my own laundry.

When I went to close the mosquito screen after re-hanging the super-wet towels, and it ripped almost in half.  That’s going to cost me €100 – 150!  I’ve got to have a good screen on the kitchen window or the house will be full of mosquitoes.

This is one of those days when I feel like I’m almost bleeding money, trapped here in the dark.  I just feel so angry and frustrated that I don’t know whether to scream or cry.  And of course all this comes on the heels of that powerful encouragement I got in Turin.

To be honest, just writing it out helped.  After all, writing is how I process my emotions.  Writing is also a form of escape for me[1].

But then one of my houseguests returned to the house.  She saw the screen and leaped into action, sewing the tear with fishing line.  And it looks like the fix is going to hold very well.  And I realized that the landlord will eventually return home, read my note, and get the shutter fixed.


It’s not the prettiest fix, but it looks like it will work

Then I heard a marvelous teaching by Jonathan Cahn, based on Exodus 31:1-3, in which God put His Spirit on Bezalel to do all sorts of crafts necessary to build the Tabernacle and all its furnishings.  He said to ask for the anointing to do the things you need to do, no matter what it is that you need to do: computer work, creative work, relationships, whatever it is.

So I did just that.  I told God that since He has given me the responsibility for this house, I need the anointing to manage it properly.  And since He has given me the responsibility for this ministry to missionaries, I need the anointing to manage the relationships well.  And since He provides for me (I live by faith), I need the anointing to make money, not lose it (and certainly not bleed it!).

With that prayer, I immediately did begin to feel much better about all these situations.  I’m still sitting in the dark as I write this, but now I know that I don’t have to embrace the dark.  This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!  God is good!

[1] I had three concurrent journals and a book in process when my marriage was falling apart.  I wrote for five to seven hours a day every day for over a year.  Most of that went into the trash once the divorce was final and it was time to get on with my life.

A Very Italian Allegory

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I’ve been in Turin for exactly 24 hours now.  Of course, I don’t know the whole city, but because much of that time was spent walking the neighborhood where I’m staying, I’ve come to know my little part of the city pretty well.  I took tram number nine to get here from the train station.  The closest grocery stores are eight blocks in one direction or two stops on the tram in the other direction—both about three-fourths of a mile away.  I would rather carry groceries the short distance to the tram than walk three-fourths of a mile, loaded down.  I think I’m not alone in this.

This morning it was raining.  I took the tram to the grocery store, did my shopping, and returned to the tram stop to take the tram back to the apartment.  As I sat at the tram stop, I saw a bus marked number nine pull up to the bus stop beside the tram stop.  I hurried over to the bus stop as quickly as I could without risking slipping on the wet pavement or getting hit by a passing car.  As I carefully scurried, umbrella in one hand and grocery bag in the other, I frantically tried to wave.  The bus driver had made eye contact with me when he saw me at the tram stop.  But I was not quick enough.  He left me there in a puff of bio-diesel exhaust.  I returned to the tram stop and hunted for a sign, which I eventually found.  It said that today only the tram will be replaced by a bus.  There was no explanation why.

I went back to the bus stop to wait for the number nine as a bus.  While I waited, I saw a man with a big fancy umbrella go to the tram stop.  An Italian would have minded her own business, but I didn’t want him to go through the disappointment of missing the bus because of being at the tram stop, like I did.  After all, the public transportation is on a reduced schedule on Sundays.  So I yelled to him (in Italian, of course): “Hey, friend!  The tram has been substituted with a bus.”  He waved me off, turned his back to me, and took out his phone.

The thing is that I knew he was going to ignore me.  I have lived in Italy long enough to know that.  My experience over the last sixteen years is that if an Italian stops and asks me for directions, they will ignore my answer, and immediately go ask someone else.  Why?  Because they hear my American accent and figure that I can’t possibly know the right answer.  And when they hear my answer confirmed by someone speaking pure, unaccented Italian, they only believe because they heard it from an Italian.

Now here’s the allegory that came to me:

The man with the fancy umbrella is like someone you want to share Jesus with.  Some of them are going to wave you off and continue their way until it’s too late.

And if I could write the end to this episode, it would end with me getting on the bus and watching it leave Mr. Fancy Umbrella in a puff of bio-diesel exhaust.  In fact, that was the end I was so sure I would see.

So we waited, both of us for the number nine in our two different stops, side-by-side, but divided by the street and the tram barrier.  The rain continued to gently fall.  Then in the distance I saw headlights.  They were tram headlights.  So I hurried back across the street to the tram stop.  Because Fancy Umbrella man was there, the tram stopped long enough for me to get onto it.  He looked at me in triumph.  I looked at him in bewilderment.  On the ride back to the apartment, which is at the end of the line, I thought I would ask the driver about the sign and the substitute bus.

But when we got there, I changed my mind.  All I wanted was to get dry and warm.  Sometimes things here in Italy are just meant to remain a mystery.  Honestly, it is something I have learned to live with.  Anyway, I got a good allegory out of the incident.  And if I left off the real ending, it would be even better.  But life doesn’t always work out that way—especially in Italy!