A few weeks ago, high in the Italian Alps, the Chiesa di Christo di Milano came together for their annual church retreat. Every year is special, but this year marked a monumental moment for the church as two elders were appointed! My wife and I were blessed to be able to witness and take part in the appointment, as we prepare to move to Milan in a few weeks time to serve the church as the evangelist and women's ministry leader. As we listened to Wyndham Shaw and Joe Silipo give their charge, tears came to our eyes. Marco and Christine Fortina and Fabio and Daniella Birondi were the first elder couples to be appointed in our congregations in Western Europe!
As missionaries-to-be in the process of selling our possessions, saying goodbye to our ministry, friends, and family, and working hard every day to learn a new language, the retreat and appointment of elders were incredibly encouraging and reassuring to us! The church in Milan that we are blessed to serve is spiritually mature, growing, and healthy. The elders and their families are incredible examples in the faith, and have much God-given wisdom and character.
We are most grateful that despite spending only a couple of weeks with the church, it already feels like family! The Birondi and Fortina families, as well as the rest of the church, have loved us and accepted us as part of their Italian family, even though we are unable to communicate in their language (for now). Though it is difficult to leave Boston, the only home we have ever known, we are so excited to go to a new home, a new church, and work with incredibly wise, zealous, and loving elders like Marco and Fabio. Thanks be to God, the Chiesa di Christo di Milano, and to all who have prayed and given financially to support the work of the gospel in Europe.
IMS editors' note: For the past several years there has been a concerted effort on behalf of the European leadership, the Shaws, the Kohas and the Arthurs to train, raise up and mature leaders for the work in Europe. Through four elder training retreats, an elder's track at the European Bible School (EBS), and individual times with the churches, the Shaws have been able to focus on the mature couples in several European churches to teach, train and encourage these men and their wives. On April 27, 2014, their faith became a reality. Fabio and his wife Daniella were both converted in London in the 80's and were on the original mission team to Milan. They have two daughters. Marco and Christine were converted in Paris in 1992 and moved to Milan at the end of 1993. They have three daughters. All of their children are faithful disciples.
Shared from International Missions Society