Tempo di lettura: 3 minuti

I have been involved with GBU for 15 years now. Throughout  these years our mission has not changed, but the world around us has. For us to share the Gospel effectively, it is always helpful to understand these changes. 

Today the Italian university is changing,  not as an organism in itself, but separate from the context in which it grows and develops. It is changing in relation to what is happening in our country, or, even moreso, in relation to the winds of change blowing through Europe.

About three years ago I was invited to take part in a major event that was to be held in Poland in 2020. It was a continent-wide conference that would bring together about 1,000 evangelical leaders from across Europe. The Lausanne Movement, promoter and organizer of this event, has now existed for nearly 50 years to further the advancement of the Church’s mission in the world.

But 2020, the year of cancelled events, forced the organisers to postpone the event to 2021. In fact, perhaps a bit naively , they hoped that we would soon be able to return to holding major events in attendance (easy to say in hindsight!), a luxury that the coronavirus, to date, is not yet allowing us. Lausanne Europe 20/21, then, turned into a major online event (another one!) that took place in November between the 17th and 20th and brought together online more than a thousand leaders from across our continent to reflect, pray, learn and plan for the advancement of Christ’s mission in Europe and to the ends of the earth.

After the Cape Town Global Congress in 2010 and the Young Leaders Gathering in Jakarta in 2016 (both sponsored by the Lausanne Movement), I also had the privilege of attending this event, and doing so in person. How so? How can one take part in person in an online event? Well, the answer lies in the fact that I was asked by the organizers to be one of the hosts of the different sessions, and this required gathering in person with a small group to attend the event in the city of and from which the event would be streamed in Southampton, UK.

There were many inputs, as can be expected from an event of this magnitude. For instance, there were a number of different speakers on “stage” who brought to our attention to which major challenges and opportunities are facing the European Church right now and which ones we may face in the coming decades. Here I would like to highlight three challenges that I found particularly relevant to us as we carry out our Christian ministry among university students:

Europe is becoming increasingly international and the church must respond to this trend

Our cities are changing their look, many people from all over the world are coming to Europe in search of work and a decent future. As society changes, so does the university and it follows that our GBU groups are also becoming more international. Our group here in Siena (to give one example) is made up of about 60% foreign students. This brings with it new challenges, such as having to deal with different cultures and ways of doing things and holding meetings in English, etc. It is not always easy to do all of this, but it is one of the challenges we face in the new Europe. Let’s try to do our best!

Making room for the next generation of leaders

Luke Greenwood, one of the many speakers, challenged us to consider and make room for the next generation. This has always been a strong point of student work, which sees its groups led by very young people who are new to the concept of leadership. GBU Italy follows its student coordinators, invests in them, gives them confidence, trains them and encourages them to carry out their role. What a privilege to be able to work alongside very young people and see them take their first steps in Christian ministry and leadership!

Giving voice to people whose voices have long been suppressed

One morning we were encouraged (and admonished) to listen to those whose voices have been suppressed by European Christians. Among these is the voice of women who for too long have been overpowered by that of men. GBU Italy is attentive to giving space to women, involving them at the forefront of ministry among students on a par with male students (at the moment, more than half of the student coordinators in Italy are women!). How wonderful to see female students flourish and grow as they put to use the gifts God has given them in service to the gospel!

May God bless Europe, the European Church, and the evangelistic ministry among college students in an ever-changing Europe.

Giovanni Donato (GBU staff worker in Siena)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

Soon you will be reading the latest news from GBU students all over Italy. You will probably find reasons for praise that you have already read in other newsletters, prayer requests that you have prayed for in the past for a group, news of events from an enthusiastic group that, however, are not exactly new to you. In fact, they are often activities that have already been done in other cities, by other groups. Activities and prayer requests that you yourself have prayed, if you are a former GBU member, or that you know about because in the very last newsletter you read, another GBU group had done or asked for something similar in some other city. 

But why, then, would you read this newsletter? What’s new about it?

If you’re in a hurry, don’t read it. You might not find anything new. But if you devote a few minutes of concentration to reading, if you pay attention, you may be able to catch the spirit in which the students wrote those few lines. You will be able to find expressions such as “supercharged”, “finally”, “restarted” that powerfully express all the joy that  the students have  now they are getting back to meeting in person , relating  with other students, organising creative events, Bible studies and prayer meetings. In short, to Share Jesus from student to student, as they have always done, even during the pandemic, but with a new enthusiasm.

And that enthusiasm will sweep you away!

Then you’ll understand that the GBU still has that ever-new enthusiasm  typical of the young, new generation of believers, which is renewed from year to year, particularly in this post-covid restart year (we hope!).  You’ll realize we’re on track, we’re charged up, and you will feel involved, eager to do something: to pray. The Holy Spirit will guide you, speak to you, and with your prayer and support you can continue (or begin) to be a part of this mission, the mission of GBU, to make the Lord Jesus known in universities.

Domenico Campo (GBU Staff worker in Sicily)

Tempo di lettura: 3 minuti

According to an old theory, already implicit in Heiddeger’s writings on technology and popularized by a well-known article by historian Lynn White Jr., the Judeo-Christian tradition is the cause of the environmental crisis we are experiencing. If animism and paganism promoted a form of respect for the environment based on the belief that behind the natural elements there were spiritual beings, their defeat would have caused the desacralization of those elements and their transformation into resources to be exploited by man, prince of creation and its ruler. Without the need to historically analyze the validity of this theory, we can recognize how a superficial reading of the Bible may have led some Christians to take an inconsiderate attitude towards the environment.

On the other hand, careful reflection on what the Bible says about our relationship with nature represents the most solid foundation for a commitment to the protection and safeguarding of creation.

It is true that man is created in the image of God and his relationship with Him places him on a different plane from the rest of creation since the beginning of the biblical narrative, yet it is precisely the beginning of Genesis that suggests to us that man has always had a role of responsibility towards the environment:

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden, to work it and take care of it.”

(Gen. 2:15).

In confirmation of this high value that natural elements have in the Christian worldview, we can recall that all of creation has been subjected to the effects of sin and is awaiting the return of Christ (Rom. 8:19-23), for “all things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:16). Modern environmental concerns should not be foreign to any Christian who takes the truths just mentioned seriously, but there is more: without God, humanity risks losing any valid motivation to protect the environment that does not lead to anti-humanism.

Without God, it seems difficult, if not impossible, to find the balance between anthropocentrism, which has given support to the senseless exploitation of natural resources useful for economic development, and anti-humanism, which, by denying man the right to consider himself more important than other forms of life, turns him into the problem to be contained or eliminated. Neither atheistic materialism nor modern pantheism can provide a solution to this dilemma. Both fail to provide any basis for ethics, or end up equating human life to that of other animals, if not plants (or viruses!).

  • Why should I care about the survival of someone other than myself?
  • Why would it be wrong to eliminate even a small minority of human beings, if it would bring undoubted well-being to all other life forms on the planet?
  • Why would it be right to eliminate a life form like Coronavirus?

Questions for which the answer seems obvious and intuitive suddenly become difficult, if one excludes God from the picture.

The Bible does not resolve questions of environmental ethics with a form of anthropocentrism limited by God’s law, but instead by placing Christ Jesus at the center of all things.

The purpose of creation is to glorify Christ, and God’s plan culminates not in the salvation of man but in the unity of all things under one head, Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:9-10).

Christianity proposes a theocentric humanism that assigns a special role to man and a great value to his life, which, however, is not the ultimate end of things. Human beings are called to contribute to the realization of God’s plan, and they are called to do so also by taking care of the environment.

Francesco Schiano
(GBU staff worker in Naples)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

The days spent at Formazione GBU were special.

They were rich and blessed because every activity that we experienced was useful (to me). One fundamental part of the training was learning from the interactions and confrontations between the students or between staff members and students; how important it is to know the thoughts of others and to learn from one another!

Formazione was not only theoretical, but also practical! Each student leader had the opportunity to lead a brief Bible study using the inductive method as well as receiving “input” that will be useful for evangelism at our universities.

Also valuable were the moments dedicated to international prayer for various brothers and sisters from different universities around the world; the seminars in which we focused on reflecting on certain ideologies that are taking root within the universities and what the Bible says about them; what methods can be used to to share your own testimony or what one should be aware of when one wants to start reading the Bible with a friend.

All of this was set against the backdrop of Formazione’s theme – The Time is Near.

These words are found within the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, a book that, amongst many other things, refers to love: the love of God that shines through the seven letters sent to the seven churches of Asia Minor, which are also valid for us today.

As student leader of GBU Salerno, a newborn reality, I return home satisfied and enriched.
Thanks to this experience in the grace of the Lord I was able to receive encouragement, as a university student, looking at the work of God within other GBU groups.

During the last few days I have been able to think about some points concerning my personal life that, in other circumstances, I would perhaps never have reflected on.

Guys, God speaks to our hearts and knows very well what our needs, difficulties and uncertainties are. We must never stop having faith in Him because at the right time He answers, at the right time He shows Himself.

I encourage the person reading this article to strive in their GBU, where we share Jesus from student to student. Our efforts in His name are never in vain!

Finally, a special thank you goes out to all the GBU Staff workers who work daily to advance the Kingdom of God within the universities; your presence, your encouragement and your dedication is something I will always carry in my heart!

May God bless us.

To Him alone be the glory!

 

Giuseppe Ambrosio
(coordinator of GBU Salerno)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

Figuring out God’s will for one’s life seems to be a common obsession in the lives of believers.

Perhaps this is because we suffer from a kind of “Sliding Doors” syndrome.
Just like the famous 90’s movie, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, we think that one wrong choice (in the movie it was a random event, but that’s beside the point) can change the course of our story, causing us to miss out on the best things in life.

Yet God’s will for us is crystal clear in the Bible. Jesus called us to be his witnesses, to the glory of God. Before he ascended into heaven, he told his disciples, “Go and make disciples” and his disciples passed on this same commission to those who believed their preaching. Making disciples of Christ is God’s will for every person who believes in him and follows him. The main answer, whenever we are faced with an important choice and we ask ourselves what to do, should be: “Go and make disciples of Christ.”

“You are the salt of the earth…”

This year at the Festa GBU we asked ourselves how to fulfill the great commission by reflecting on three famous passages from the Gospel of Matthew (5:13-16, 9:36-38, 28:16-20).
“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world…” a disciple of Christ cannot go unnoticed, and the place he is in, he makes it a better place. His new birth and the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life clearly make him different. He is what the dry, dark world in which he lives needs.

So, shine! “That they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.”

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them”

The crowds that live around us should see our good works. What should we see in them? Jesus saw sheep without a shepherd, people who were tired and exhausted, he saw a great harvest, which prompted him to say “pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out workers into his harvest field.”
The practice of fasting (not necessarily from food, but perhaps from the internet, smartphones, TV shows), solitude and silence might help us to be free from the distractions that keep us from seeing the crowds living around us. This will help us feel the compassion Jesus feels for them, as well as encouraging us to spend more time on our knees, praying with a greater vision of the Lord’s work.

Then we will be ready to go, to be uncomfortable, to take risks.

“Some want to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell” (C.T. Studd).

There is a great need to preach the gospel, to teach the Word of God. Those who have dedicated themselves to these things have always faced suffering and persecution, but “Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” Jesus told his disciples after affirming that all power had been entrusted to him, in heaven and on earth.

We are not in a world driven by chance, in which our wrong choices can ruin our lives. We are in the harvest field of God, who has all things in his hands, and who asks us above all else one thing: “go and make disciples of me.” Nothing else is as important.

 

Francesco Schiano
(GBU staff worker)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minutiMarch has arrived and for many of us it feels like we’re living in a movie we’ve seen over and over again, like a time loop from which we can’t escape. A year ago many in our country were scared, skeptical, terrified, hopeless, but we would never have guessed that a year later so many of these feelings would still be in our hearts and minds. The fact is, although time has passed, for many, the situation seems to be unchanged.

Students are still in distance learning and universities seem to be functioning only online , with a few exceptions here and there. The thrill of stepping through the door of the university classroom for the first time for many is gone, for yet another semester. For others, however, the experience of online graduation will become a bittersweet memory to be recounted in the future.

The daily life of GBU groups has also changed now. Online Bible study meetings, thousands of messages in chat rooms, social promotion, and online events have become part and parcel of a normal GBU day. But don’t let that fool you. The essence remains. That desire to share Jesus with one’s friends, the commitment to witnessing the gospel, and the fellowship that spurs growth in one’s own faith and the faith of others is there for anyone who wants to see it.

In times like these, where challenges against our faith are piling up, we cling to the Word and the hope we can find only in Jesus. He is the one who assured us that He would be with us until the end, pandemic or not. My invitation to you is to go and read the news from the different groups. You will see that instead of complaints or ‘defeated tones’ there are many reasons for joy and hope. There is news  from large and consolidated groups but also stories of the challenges from small groups that have just been born and who enthusiastically recount every small victory. There are many reasons for praise and there are requests for prayer, because the students have now realized that in their life of faith they will not be able to go much further without the prayer and intercession of their brothers and sisters.

What has changed then since the last news report? If we look at the circumstances, not much. But if we look to the One who works every good work in us, who acts when no one else can, and who changes the lives of students every day, then there is much to be seen. So I invite you to read the news, praise the Lord for His work, and pray for the groups, with the assurance that Jesus has not stopped in time, but is at work making all things new.

 

Carol Rocha
(GBU Staff)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

I love autumn!

I like it because, after the summer, it’s the time to get back to work at full speed. And working with GBU university students is a great job to have!

I like it because finally there isn’t that suffocating heat anymore, but the days are still beautiful, and you can enjoy the pleasant sun (in Sicily at least!).

I like autumn because I like its colours. The green and lush leaves are getting ready to drop, turning yellow, orange, red…

Yellow… Orange… Red…

Thinking about it, this year I like these colours less, much less. In this particular autumn, in fact, it is not only the leaves that have taken on the colours of autumn. [ndt: Italy’s regions have been categorized with these colors depending on the gravity of the spread of covid-19]

But if it is true that for the leaves it is the natural colouring that prepares them to dry up and die on the ground, let’s hope that for the regions of Italy the process will be the reverse, and that they will soon be green and lush again, as we used to see them on maps or on TV weather programmes.

In the meantime, the various GBU groups have resumed their activities throughout Italy.

Students are experiencing similar challenges in all regions, and while it is true that some groups still manage to meet in presence (some groups in the yellow regions), for others the meetings have all moved online (almost all groups in the orange and red regions).

The difficulty to relate with friends and colleagues certainly does not make the work of GBU easier, and certainly affects the mood of the students in a negative way. Many are also slightly worried because at the moment there is a lot of uncertainty about their university career. Some are facing even more serious challenges, such as the risk of not being able to return home to their family, or even worse, having to face the fact that they may have a dear one affected by covid.

This is what autumn is like for GBU students.

It is an autumn where grey seems to prevail, as well as yellow, orange and red…

Yet, you only have to read this news from the various GBU groups to discover that there is much more than just uncertainty and fear in the hearts of these young people. There is creativity, faith, love and passion for the Gospel!

So I ask you to read this news carefully and to support GBU students in prayer.

You will read about students struggling, praying and using their full potential to “Share Jesus from student to student”, confident that the good news of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection is powerful enough to change the lives of their friends and colleagues. Even from a distance. Even while they feel uncertain and lost. Even if they are alone behind the screen of a PC or a smartphone.

All because Jesus is the true light!

I am the light of the world; those who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

And light, it is said, is the combination of all colours: yellow, orange, red…

Domenico Campo
(GBU Staff worker)

Read the latest news from the groups

Tempo di lettura: 4 minuti

Salmon are peculiar fish.

They are born in rivers, they spend their adult life in the sea and at a certain point, when the time comes to reproduce, they return to the river from which they came. They can recognize the river through which they reached the sea thanks to their sense of smell and the so-called ‘home scent molecular memory’. Thus, guided by their olfactory instinct, they begin to wander the sea or the ocean looking for the mouth of their river. Once they recognize the way home, they begin to swim against the current to the exact point where they were laid in the form of eggs.

Salmon, therefore, swim in the opposite direction to the water flow: this requires considerable energy, clarity of purpose and stubbornness in the face of the obvious adversities that a similar journey requires. In the Christian life we are often like salmon.

There are many fish in the sea, but only a few swim upstream. God did not make all fish the same, in a similar way that not all human beings become Christians. When we are immersed in the sea of our dominant culture we have many choices and alternatives. When Christian find themselves immersed in their society’s dominant culture and tradition, it is easier to conform to it: no one likes to attract attention because they swim against the current.

Yet, Jesus was the countercurrent by definition.

He was a salmon too. Until he turned 30, he was in the sea like the others. Then his ministry began and he started to go upstream, convincing others to do the same. He said countercurrent words about God, His character and His Kingdom. He spent his time with people who were discriminated against and despised. He was a leader against the current of expectations of his Jewish compatriots. He was nothing like what anyone expected and even today, Jesus and His words cause a stir. The Gospel causes a stir. His death for us on the cross is countercultural compared to the saving of self we hear so much about from the modern pulpits.

Young Christian graduates are like fish in the ocean.

After having swam in calm and controlled waters, most of the time under the eyes of adults first (with family) and then friends (from the end of high school to university), they find themselves immersed in a vast and unknown space, with unstable boundaries: the world of work. They find themselves abandoning the cities and churches they belong to, their families and everything they knew in order to undertake new paths of life and growth, new difficulties and new challenges.

With these premises, it is not surprising that even according to scholars the transition from the condition of students to that of workers is one of the most difficult and painful. Without the right energy, clarity of purpose and determination, it is easy to lose your way home. And our home is not here, but in the Kingdom of the One who created us. It is the House of the Lord, where we wish to dwell every day of our lives.

Cross-current is a project designed specifically for young Christian graduates who want to live their faith fully in the workplace.

Born as an extension of the GBU (University Bible Groups), Cross-current allows young Christians who have recently entered the job world to reflect on God’s purposes for work and for us personally, based on a solid theological approach combined with prayer and peer-to-peer mentoring.

Our first weekend together at Bobbio Pellice was the beginning of a wonderful/beautiful three year adventure. We were in a small group of around ten people, both on Zoom and face-to-face. In the course of these three years we will meet another five times.

Each weekend together focuses on a particular theme linked to work and faith in Christ. In particular, this October we saw how it is possible to redeem work by seeing it as a service to God and to others, starting from the study of Genesis 1 and 2. We also saw how God himself gets to work and we learned from the Word [some teachings on] how a Christian should behave at work.

We also had the chance to share in couples or small groups our difficulties and challenges, as well as praying for each other. Obviously there were many fun moments, both in our free time by taking a walk to the nearest bar for the daily supply of caffeine, playing games and eating chocolate on Saturday night!

Cross-current allowed us to not feel like the only salmon in the sea, helping us to create deep relationships with other young people who live the same challenges we face, so that we have the good energy and encouragement to go upstream. The weekend in Bobbio was an opportunity to make clear who God really is, based primarily on His nature and His Word, thus providing a biblical and positive perspective on work. It reminded us what our main goals as Christians are: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love others as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18).

This first weekend of Cross-current Italy also provided us with practical tools to use every day to see the power of God and His glory come true in our workplaces. In short, it gave us the right determination and ‘stubbornness’ to get to the end of the race.

Last but certainly not least, Cross-current has given us all motivation to truly love our colleagues, our leaders and our jobs, proclaiming salvation by grace in the blood of Jesus through a realistic and consistent testimony carried out day after day.

Cross-current Italy, despite the fact that it has only just begun, has already proved to be the answer to a prayer that I would never have been able to express to God… because the truth is that after graduation I didn’t even know what I needed!

All I knew was that I wanted to follow Christ even as I worked and Cross-current had a scent of Home, just like the river mouth for salmon. It was a great encouragement for me and I am sure my fellow ‘cross-currentees’ feel the same way!

Alessandra Rositani
(GBU Turin graduate)

 

Tempo di lettura: 4 minutiThis year, despite the pandemic, we didn’t want to do without the precious weekend of FORMAZIONE GBU (Student Leaders’ Training) in which young students, willing to serve God at the university, gather to be spiritually charged and start, together, the new academic year. It’s a chance for spiritual growth and training both for “freshers” and for more “experienced” students.

Following you can find the testimonies of two students: Federico Beccati, just getting to know the GBU world and also a new leader in Turin, and Alice Novaria, an experienced leader already on board the mission for a few years now.

Federico writes:

Praise the Lord, I had the opportunity to attend, this year for the first time, Formazione GBU. It was great and encouraging to see fellow students from Italian cities ready and available to serve God also in the context of university campuses. Thanks to the more experienced leaders I had the opportunity to receive helpful advice, both practical and spiritual, to start this task according to God’s will.

I was hesitant at first, being inexperienced, of how I could be of any help to the GBU vision, which is “sharing Jesus from one student to another”.

Instead God responded to my doubts from the very first day with a Bible study on Haggai, an extraordinary text about the devastation the people of Israel were experiencing after the return to Jerusalem from the exile, but where God gives hope: “I am with you” declares the Lord (Hg 1:13). And then Haggai prophecies of the glory of the Lord with the coming of Jesus Christ. Thanks to studying this book I understood fully how everything must be entrusted to God and how we as student leaders are called, in our role, to have only one goal: to give Him glory and to present His Gospel to others.

As I repeated frequently in the days after Formazione, I had never received so much input into my spiritual growth as I did during that weekend. An example of this to which I am thankful for were the workshops on evangelism, for instance through “Sharing Jesus by reading the Bible with a friend”, I found the motivation to fight against my shyness and accept the responsibility of evangelism that Jesus left us after His resurrection.

Another topic that we looked at was how we are called to be leaders, not according to the world’s definition, but according to Jesus Christ. To be a leader is to be a servant who sacrifices oneself for others, whose life is rooted in the Word and who is of encouragement to the other members of the group, helping them to grow.

Although the Covid-19 restrictions limited our interaction, it was good to encourage one another, especially in this new beginning full of uncertainties. I was particularly grateful for the moments of prayer in which we supported one another and I will keep lifting up my fellow student leaders in prayer throughout the year. During the weekend we had the opportunity to share our worries and prayer requests which really reinforced the bond amongst all of the participants.

I want to close by thanking the GBU staff workers who made Formazione possibile, I thank them personally because by being able to attend Formazione, God showed me more so the plan that He has for my life and therefore affirmed the verse that says:

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go”
(Isaiah 48:17)

Alice writes:

This year God granted my desire of closing my long university journey with what is most important to me – sharing the message of the Gospel.

The GBU has always been a great way to accomplish this and God opened up a way for us at Urbino, a university with no Christian witness.

After a couple of years where GBU Urbino stopped due to lack of “student power”, we are back and this fills me with joy. So I had the opportunity, a few years later, to attend Formazione GBU again. The weekend was a leap into the past, and brought back many memories and some nostalgia too! I was surprised to see a considerable generational turnover in the students who came and also some older friends.

We studied Haggai, a book that I had never personally analysed in depth before. I think that God wanted to equip us this year by reminding us that HE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE WITH US. He will be with us even when we are discouraged and when all our efforts may seem fruitless or useless, because the work is His, not ours.

Another great teaching that really stuck with me was the example of Haggai and his “hidden service”. Despite the fact that the book we studied is named after him, Haggai is more like an “extra” than the lead in this story, as one might assume. Haggai faithfully reported God’s message without adding or taking anything to His words – he was only an instrument in God’s hands.

The application I took from this (that was provoked by a simple comment during the Bible discussion) is to be humble and faithful to God.

I want to point this out because I believe that Formazione GBU is a rich time filled with input, with every moment having the potential to be crucial for one’s spiritual growth. In every Formazione session that I attended I always observed a strong desire between students and staff to share and exchange thoughts and lessons learnt. Even in the rare “free” moments between sessions or at the end of the evening, it was beautiful to see that Jesus was at the center of our conversations, on the top of our list of priorities.

Along the same lines, I thought that spending time with our only roommates at meal times (due to Covid restrictions) would be a limitation during this particular Formazione, yet this turned out to be a great blessing. Because of the deeper nature of our conversations we were able to establish stronger, more intimate relationships and encourage one another, with God guiding us the whole time.

One workshop that I found particularly useful was “How to prepare an evangelistic message” in which we also had the chance to do practical exercises. And there’s much more that could I say about the prayer evening, the group Bible studies, the sessions on the leader’s role in a GBU, the panels during lunch…

I think that now, equipped so, we have nothing left to do than answer the call of our Lord –

“Get to work, for I am with you!” (Haggai 2:4)

Federico Beccati
(GBU Torino)

Alice Novaria
(GBU Urbino)

Tempo di lettura: 2 minuti

This was my third time attending the Festa GBU.

It’s always an opportunity for spiritual and personal growth, and also a chance to meet friends from all over Italy.

When registrations began a few months ago, I didn’t hesitate to register, and I wasn’t the only one! Several students from our GBU group in Turin signed up, also because our group was supposed to be in charge of the legendary coffee bar! We were excited at the prospect and were encouraging the new members of the group to come along.

Unfortunately, though, I received an email that I was hoping not to receive…

There would be no Festa GBU due to the Coronavirus. Postponed to 2021. Sad news, but the email also said that we would meet anyway, online. I didn’t have high expectations, but it was encouraging to know we would still have the chance to do something, despite these difficult times.

A couple of days before the beginning of the event, I saw the program and I had to change my mind because I wasn’t expecting it to be so full. It was almost like a regular day at the Festa, including the special guest! So I registered and picked which workshops to attend: this year too there were several interesting options.

And then, the great day arrived, April 25th.

I participated in all the events and I was really struck by them: I didn’t expect to see so many students online together! The morning message and the workshops made me think about my future and helped me to re-organize my priorities. They encouraged me to advance in my pursuit of the will of God for my life and challenged me to cultivate my prayer life in order to experience God’s presence and power in every situation. Like every year, I was enriched by the dialogue with other students who struggle with battles similar to mine, I really appreciated it.

It was a privilege to listen to the interview with Lindsay Brown, what a brilliant mind!

But my favorite moment was the prayer meeting at the end of the day and Johan’s closing speech. During the prayer time I could sense the unity of the Spirit in all of the participants (about 80 people) despite the distance!

And Johan really moved us  when he spoke about the beginning of GBU in Italy, 70 years ago, and showed us some historic photos, or when he showed us the group photo of last year’s Festa GBU. Those historic pictures made me feel part of a ministry and service that go on in time; I’m deeply honored to collaborate with GBU and I’m happy to see how the Lord keeps blessing our groups and uses them as an instrument to reach students for him.

The picture from last year  made me nostalgic for those wonderful moments!

After I disconnected from the call, I found out that I wasn’t the only from Turin to have been moved, and we were all excited and we want to have similar meetings in the future.

For me, Festa GBU Online was a breath of fresh air in this time of lockdown. I really hope to physically attend next year’s Festa GBU!

Luca Montaldo
(student leader of GBU Turin)