…On the sixth day, God accomplished His work and, pleased with all the beauty He had created, He took the Earth in His hands, and kissed it. There, where He put His lips, that’s Sicily. Renzino Barbera, 1923 – 2009 Poet, writer, artist, actor
Hey guys my name is Jason and I get to give you the update on the Form journey as of the last 4 weeks. You may recall Annie left off in the run up to Sicily, specifically regarding our various fundraising endeavours. So as you may have figured from the quote, I will predominantly be reflecting on the Sicily mission trip with a few of my personal revelations mixed in…
Upon arriving in a gorgeous villa we were introduced to our hosts: Rachel & Josh Ballard, they and their kids have been on mission in Sicily for over 3 years doing incredible work and hosting and serving many teams throughout that time. If anyone wants to keep updated or get involved with their ministry then you can find their newsletter(s) at: https://us12.campaign-archive.com/home/… (I would highly recommend). We were also introduced to the man; the myth; the legend; Marco, and his wife Cinzia. Having done Form over 15 years ago, he is a living testament to what Form is about, and the love he has for Jesus is inspiring. Truly one of the most inspiring and incredible men of God I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, he moved to Sicily over a decade ago to set up a church plant called Jesus Generation but if you want to hear more about it then you’d probably be best hearing it from him at: http://www.jesusgeneration.it/english-version/
The mission trip pushed us into breaking and stretching spiritual muscles that many of us (especially me) never realised we had. However, the mission trip started with some more physically strenuous activities. We were based at the “Agape house”, “Agape Mission” being one of Jesus Generation’s various ministries. This house had been provided by God and is well placed in a hugely disadvantaged part of the city where the mafia has a huge hold. The vision for the garden in which we worked is to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged people to grow vegetables in plots so that they can learn life skills but also make a living. We as Form were able to come to this site last year as well and thus it allowed us to appreciate the work and the effort that has been invested over the last year. Below is a before and after of just one of the rooms of the building.
The following two days included a splendid church service, where we were able to take communion with the church, and Form Network leader: Josh Cutting led a incredibly poignant talk on “Fear of the Lord” and being “Pure of heart”. We also engaged with prayer ministry in the city streets. Armed with a beautifully crafted prayer map (designed by one of the missionaries with us) highlighting areas of the city which are in particular need of prayer, we set out to pray for the city. Over the two days we walked for a total of 9-10 hours, over 18000 steps. We prayed and ministered to many people throughout the two days. I was personally involved in a conversation with a sparky Muslim chap who went by the name Bobbi Brown, and in this conversation God really highlighted where I personally needed growth as an Evangelist. He revealed this as a key area in which I need to grow and develop. Fortunately I was not left on my own and one of my fellow Formees who was just incredible managed to carry the conversation regardless of my own floundering – it’s an absolute delight to see people flourish and I never cease to be in awe of my fellow Formees. However the main focus of the street ministry was to invite non-Christians, to the Jesus Film which was happening later that day. Despite the horrendous downpour and the last minute advertisement we had a far better response than we’d expected with 9 people coming to watch and discuss the film.
The two ministry orientated days were sandwiched by two labour based days so come day 5 we set to work on “The Land”. The Land is one of Marco’s biggest visions that God has given him. Listening to the passion and the energy with which Marco talks about it is incredibly inspiring. There are countless miracles surrounding the land, most of which are included on their website (linked above). The vision is a place where people can come to learn and live whilst being discipled. Marco recognises that Sicily is a central point in the world with many people coming through Sicily to get elsewhere, thus this land is to be a hub from which they can minister and disciple others. I believe that I speak on behalf of all of us when I say Marco’s humility and faith was absolutely inspiring. To paraphrase him; We trusted God for a few hundred Euros, and he provided, so we are trusting Him for the million or so it’s going to take to complete the project, because in God’s hands what’s the difference between a few hundred and a million?!
I along with the majority of the team spent the day pulling up and burning dead cacti, with another group working on producing some kind of toilet for the site. I must confess that I was particularly in awe of our Ipswich leader Rich who was an absolute machine, actually asking if he could finish cutting back the weeds when everyone else was shattered and just wanted to go home.
On the last full day we got to rest, and we were able to head into a nearby town called Taormina. Unfortunately I wasn’t on this outing as I was too exhausted to even leave the villa, which sadly meant missing the baptism of one of our Formees. However I managed to catch the baptism on live stream. I heard stories of double and even triple rainbows, of the weather pausing just for the occasion and truly it brings God joy each step we take closer to him, each inch into His arms and His warm embrace is huge. On the last night we were allowed to pray for our hosts and it was a truly beautiful night full of glorious worship and the presence of God was just overwhelming. We may have gone to Sicily as missionaries but truly we left as a family.
Written by Jason Mansell
One of Formees Henry compiled an incredible motion picture to document the mission trip which you can find at: https://vimeo.com/265526288. Much of the credit for the pictures included has to go to Henry who did an incredible job at documenting the mission trip, you can find more about his personal Form journey and his account of the mission trip at https://www.facebook.com/HenryDoesForm/