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It was eight years ago that we baptized brother Festus in Naples. He is a long term resident of Italy. He and his wife, like brother Joseph in Cesena, are deeply grieved at the appearance of so many desperate African migrants on the streets of Naples.

All we can do is to offer the hope of the Gospel and do what we can to alleviate the obvious material needs. We are really inspired to do this by these African women who are throwing themselves upon the Lord. Festus and Rosa have been teaching some women the Gospel, and it was a pleasure to help them to baptize sisters Mary, Endurance, Perpetua, Maria,Rosemary, Dolly and brother Bright. As with similar women in Sicily, we helped them to have white clothes for the baptisms and to do all we can to give some sense of occasion to this wonderful moment when they entered the bride of Christ.

You can imagine what it’s like for the few women who attempt the journey. We baptized Blessing, who was first contacted through street distribution of the NEV New Testaments. She very much wanted to share her story publicly, we didn’t ask her to do this, she wanted to. She described how her husband had multiple other women in their home and she had to leave, having to leave their child with him. She returned to her parental home, and there her uncle, her father’s brother, pressured her to marry him [he already had several wives] or at least have children with him. Her father pressured her to agree, and so she ran away and joined the exodus to Italy. She was kidnapped at gunpoint in Libya by the traffickers, and kept for 2 months as a sex slave and raped most days. Like brother Tony, she was pressured to call her family and ask them to send money for her release, but she had been thrown out of her family and they wouldn’t, so eventually the traffickers released her as she was not going to be a source of income for them. She then got to Sicily, having witnessed some of her group drowning on the way. Right is a still from the video she wished to make about her experiences, which you can watch at:

Like us all, she had to be brought down and to total loneliness with God to find Jesus in spirit and truth. She speaks of how she has forgiven these people, because we too are all terrible sinners before God; and of how God’s grace is so great that she sees Him as a kind and loving God, despite what she went through. She speaks quietly and from the heart, with sweat breaking out on her, and only once wiping tears away; she has absolute credibility. This is a profound message absolutely worth listening to, a real inspiration to focus on the positive, to believe God is the God of love despite the existence of evil in our lives; to not get bitter, and achieve forgiveness of our abusers. Do watch it. Blessing doesn’t do email and is very restricted where she is in the woman’s camp. She has a simple phone and any sister interested in giving her a call can contact us for her number. We hope to provide clothing and more support to her and other such women over the Summer.

For women who have been sex workers and / or rape victims, there are huge long term psychological issues. But we believe that the Lord is able to repair broken souls, for this is the clear good news of the most basic teaching of Jesus in the sermon on the mount, and it is to such that the Gospel is so attractive. Again, thank you all for your prayers and donations in various ways which enable all this good work to happen.

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