Extreme Makeover theme sparks renewal at Italian retreat

Posted on January 5, 2012 by VMMissions Staff

The annual retreat/vacation for Italian Mennonites took place this summer on the “heel” of Italy among the pine groves that shade the Ionic seacoast. Participants convened from extreme ends of Italy, from Turin in the north to Sicily in the south, with most coming from central Italy—representing various church affiliations.

Following prayer time each morning, we enjoyed a free, relaxed schedule until 5 p.m., when we gathered together with great expectancy for the highlight of the day. Celebrative worship and music expressed joyful gratitude stirred up by daily Bible studies around the theme Extreme Makeover:

• “From Condemnation to Grace”
• “From Darkness to Light”
• “From Death to Life”
• “From Religion to Relationship”
• “From Bitterness to Forgiveness”
• “From Loneliness to Fellowship”

God used His Word and personal testimonies that vividly illustrated each presentation, to touch and renew us. One participant spoke for everyone when she commented, “I saw myself in every presentation!” Another
person shared her faith story publicly for the first time, although a believer for many years. A teenager openly committed her life to Jesus and requested baptism.

Workshops were a new, much appreciated feature this year: chorale with Maurita Eberly and Jonathan Greco; “Dangers of the Internet” with Nicola Cippone; “Handcraft artistry” with Mara Colonna. Christian films and soccer games added variety to after-dinner, late-night activities. Spending an entire week together encourages unity and creates indelible memories of fun, praying and sharing together, giving and receiving counsel.

Again this year, persons participated who haven’t yet experienced spiritual transformation. May they desire Extreme Makeover in their lives and join us in experiencing grace, light, true life, forgiveness, fellowship and relationship found only in Jesus!

NOTE: This annual event not only ministers physical and spiritual refreshment but also offers opportunity for service, discipleship and gift development.

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Smilling faces mirror the joy of retreat. Courtesy of author

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