“Full circle” after forty years

Posted on April 26, 2011 by VMMissions Staff

With youthful excitement, we eagerly researched the Italian city where we would serve after language school in Florence. Finally, we were going to fulfill the call to missions we’d both received years before! Vasto—a coastal city amid vineyards and olive groves on the foothills of the Abruzzo mountains in central Italy—was to be our destination. What the tourist books didn’t say was that no believers’ church existed in Vasto. In that area, however, were small groups of believers/ contacts from the VMM-sponsored radio broadcast, “Parole di Vita,” that had no leader or church to disciple them. This would be our assignment!

To our dismay, just before departure we learned that VMM missionaries located in Palermo, Sicily, would be terminating and that we’d need to go there rather than Vasto. During the 18 years we served in Sicily, Vasto remained deep in our hearts. In fact, we celebrated our 30th anniversary at Vasto, hoping to discover if God had used others to plant a church there. People we questioned answered negatively regarding the presence of an evangelical church in their city. That day, beneath the palm trees in its central plaza with white doves circling overhead, we prayed over Vasto, asking the Spirit to hover over it and to birth a people that would glorify Jesus.

During the following 15 years, God brought Italian evangelists/church planters, Giovanni and Fiorella Greco into our lives, who currently pastor a growing church in Vasto! Yes, in Vasto! As fellowship and partnership intensified between the Italian Mennonite Church and the Grecos, we all strongly sensed an unusual unity and harmony in our collaboration. At the recent annual assembly of the Italian Mennonite Church, the Grecos were officially accepted into membership and commissioned to missionary/church planting ministry in Termoli, the Grecos’ home city just 30 minutes from Vasto. (Read article from March 2011)

Recently the Vasto church unanimously expressed the desire for closer collaboration with the Italian Mennonite Church! With amazement we recognize that God is honoring the vision of more than 40 years ago and is bringing us “full circle” by re-connecting us with His purposes for Vasto and region!

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Willard and Eva Eberly (right) with Loren and Earlene Horst visit Vasto with Giovanni and Fiorella Greco (center).

Willard and Eva Eberly (right) with Loren and Earlene Horst visit Vasto with Giovanni and Fiorella Greco (center).

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