A group of boys attending an English sports camp in Fucecchio, Italy, kept quiet for a minute, after listening to the story of the Good Samaritan. Their leaders explained how there was a rivalry between the Samaritans and the Jews, but that the Samaritan did not turn away from the needs of the Jew, lying wounded and half-dead on the side of the road.
“What would you do?” they asked, challenging them to think about if they would be able to help a shy classmate, an immigrant, or all those in categories apart from what is ‘normal’ to them.
All of them nodded, and agreed that they wanted to act better. One boy, even before the leaders had finished speaking, stood up, went over to another boy and apologised for teasing him earlier in the week. Quickly, one after another, all the boys began to apologise to each other. “I was so touched and surprised,” recalled Davide, one of the group leaders. “The Word of God had struck again.”
‘Rock my Word’ was the theme of the one-week summer camp, organised by OM and a local church in Fucecchio. The camp was a fitting end to an after-school programme that went on for the whole year in the Fucecchio church. This ministry enabled OM workers and church members to make great connections with the families in the area, offering children not only help with their studies, but also the opportunity to play sports, while sharing Christian values such as love and respect for their neighbours and the local community.
“God brought us some really wonderful kids throughout the year, and approximately 30-35 kids took part in our study halls, English lessons, and sport sessions,” shared Robert Vitter, coordinator of the ministry.
“Kids came for different reasons from different towns, but they almost always stayed because of the environment of support and love. We offered a safe place where our goal was to help kids grow individually and grow together as students and great citizens.”
The after school programme was not evangelical in itself, but the team trusted God to open up opportunities for them to share their faith and show His love in tangible ways through service in their community.
During the summer camp however, the team shared the gospel openly. It was an evangelistic camp with sports, songs, crafts, English, dancing, friends, and a lot more. Besides OM workers from Italy and the UK, and several members of the church in Fucecchio, a group from a church in Alabama, USA, joined to serve the children together.
They hoped to have at least 20 to 25 children from the after school programme attending. “We saw God's faithfulness in an amazing way as we started to publicise the event,” shared Robert. “We had 71 kids participate every day of the week-long camp, ages 5-14. Many of these children learned some in-depth stories about Jesus Christ for the very first time.”
Each day the team would read the children a Bible story to learn a life lesson from. To provide opportunities to practice the English language, the group of volunteers from the USA came to work primarily as coaches for different sports: American football, baseball, football and volleyball. Along with the sports activities there were less strenuous activities done in the shade during the hottest hours of the day, such as crafts and singing English songs with actions.
The feedback from the children, their parents and the local community was very positive. “Seeing God's faithfulness and His good works through the community project here has been more than we expected,” said Robert. “Please pray for the community project in Fucecchio, that we will have opportunities for effective follow up with the children and families, and that our project may grow in God's will and timing and be a blessing to the people of our community in a relevant way.”
If you would like to know more about this community project in Italy, or come serve alongside us, please contact OM Italia for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org