Twice a year, Operation Mobilization runs a six-month Missionary Discipleship Training (MDT) programme in South Africa. It was on the first group this year that my son, Kyle, and four of his friends and fellow trainees felt challenged on living by faith.
As these five young friends, and brothers in Christ, discussed their futures in missions, the idea for Re-birth was born. Months of prayer, planning and fasting followed, pinnacled this past Monday as their one-month journey commenced. This will be a journey where they will live by faith on the rail system throughout Europe, bringing hope with the gospel of Jesus and showing love to those God leads them to, not only on the trains but also in the cities and villages of Europe they pass through.
Milano Central Station
The Re-birth Team
The team consists, from left to right, of: Christo (19, South Africa, Studying Anthropology & Theology); Nathaneal (Nate) (18, South Africa, Studying BCom Accounting); Davide (25, Italy, IT & Graphics); Samuel (20, Sweden, Studying Writing); and my son in the front, Kyle (20, South Africa, Media Specialist). “May our Father use each of you in life-changing ways during this European outreach.”
As this is a writers’ blog, I’d like to pray a special blessing on Samuel, the scribe of the Re-birth team, on behalf of International Christian Fiction Writers.
“Use your God-given talent of writing for His glory, Samuel, telling the stories of Re-birth Europe in ways that will grasp every reader’s attention.”
I’m certainly going to keep a keen eye on the Re-birth blog.
And for the entire team, as each of you communicate with people across the world in the form of emails and newsletters, may your stories inspire those reading your words.
To backtrack a little to the week before Re-birth Europe commenced ... after MDT, Davide returned to Italy from South Africa on Monday, 1st August. Kyle flew to Milano two days later, surviving 31 hours of travel on two planes and two trains, including a 9 ½ hour layover in Doha, to join Davide at his home in Modena.
Kyle trying to sleep in Doha Airport, Qatar
Another two days later, Davide and Kyle drove to Milano to fetch the rest of the team who had spent last week in Offenburg, Germany where they attended OM’s Teen Street. Christo, Nate and Samuel had travelled through the night on the OM bus from Germany, arriving early Saturday morning in Italy.
The team, finally together again, were anxious to use their day in Milan to focus on their mission to live Faith, bring Hope, and show Love. Even though their faith outreach was only commencing two days later on 8th August, they were already on a mission. They donned their “unfashionable” bright yellow T-shirts and hit the streets of this fashionable city, seeking opportunities for God to work through them; places where they could be the hands, the feet and the voice of Jesus.
Their hard-to-miss uniformed appearance opened opportunities to share the gospel in this Vespa-driven city. They were also able to speak of what Re-birth was going to be doing thoughout Europe over the next month, as passersby asked the inevitable question: “What is Re-birth?”
I loved the story Kyle told my husband and I over Skype later that evening when they had returned to Modena from Milano. And this leads to the strange title of this blog, a title you’re no doubt by now wondering about my reasons for choosing it. This is no yarn I’m going to tell here, but a true story – the first of many that lie ahead for these five amazing young men who are so passionate for Jesus Christ.
The team had met a homeless man on the street in front of the largest cathedral in Italy and the fourth largest in the world – the Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic cathedral that had taken nearly six centuries to build. After buying him a burger from Burger King, they asked in what practical way they could help him.
“I’d like a needle and thread to fix my pants,” he replied in Italian.
They contemplated accomplishing this request in their own strength as they discussed catching a train back to where they had parked Davide’s car to fetch the needle and thread that was packed in one of their backpacks. But the team soon agreed they should trust God to find a needle and thread for them, blissfully unaware how much of a treasure hunt this simple request would be. The notion that it would be difficult to find these two simple items in the fashion capital of the world never entered their minds. As they entered boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Prada, they got disbelieving, “Needle and thread? Noooo...,” answers to their innocent question. You have to love their chutzpah!
But God did find them a needle and thread, and after quickly paying for the items, they hurried back to the homeless man they had given their word to help. He was busy packing up his belongings, ready to move on, as they returned. The team realised an important truth: If they had sought to help this man in their own strength instead of trusting God, they would still have been making their way back from the car, and they would have missed the opportunity to show God’s love in a practical way to this homeless man.
Another amazing thread to this story was that, Davide – their Italian voice in this city that spoke a language foreign to the rest of the team – had been concerned because a friend was supposed to call him to meet up with the team. When his phone remained silent, Davide wondered if God had put his friend’s call on hold so that they could attend to the homeless man’s need. As they were paying for the needle and thread, Davide’s friend finally called. The team had been able to attend to Kingdom business first, and without interruption.
The writer in me watches in keen anticipation of the amazing stories and ideas that are bound to flow from this exciting journey. Already, during Kyle’s six months of training, God has placed ideas on my heart. But when I do finally start working with these ideas, I’ll desperately need His guidance on whether I’m to use my experiences to write fact or fiction.
Please visit the Re-birth website and follow their journey on www.the-rebirth.com
MARION UECKERMANN’s writing passion was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then Marion has been honing her skills and has published some devotional articles in Winners at Work and The One Year Book of Joy and Laughter (published August 2011) as well as inspirational poetry online and in a poetry journal. She has written her first Christian Women’s novel (unpublished) and is currently working on the sequel as well as a Historical Romance novel. Marion now lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and a crazy black ‘Scottie’. A member and moderator of the Christian Writers of South Africa, Marion can be contacted via email on marionu(at)telkomsa(dot)net.