This past week, Kathryn and I were in Milan, Italy. We spent time with some of our translators for GES. They were Manuela (Italian), Kristina (Russian), and Jan (German and Polish). They are all interested in getting the message of grace to the countries where they live. There are very few free grace churches in Europe. Manuela, Kristina, and Jan translate some of GES’ materials into various languages to provide a valuable resource for those searching for sound Biblical teaching.
While there, we discussed the possibility of holding a free grace conference in northern Italy in the near future. It would involve the basics of free grace theology, focusing on the role of works in the believer’s life (the difference between eternal salvation and discipleship). Italy is dominated by the Catholic church, and there is a great deal of confusion among the people concerning these issues.
A free grace pastor in one of the cities near Milan said we could hold the conference at his church. We were all able to attend his church on Easter Sunday and take part in an absolutely fabulous Italian buffet after the service. I will admit that I went through the line twice.
We discussed the various options for holding such a conference. One option was to hold it at a conference center further south. The advantage of doing it that way is that the center would provide rooms at a discount price. A disadvantage is that people would have to travel farther to attend. In northern Italy, people from other European countries would be closer, and that might attract more people.
Another advantage of holding the conference at the church is that we would have a built-in cadre of people who would probably come. The disadvantage is that people from other countries, or even other parts of Italy, would have to find their own accommodations, which would likely be more expensive.
The conference center would also provide meals for attendees to purchase for a group rate. If we have the conference at the church farther north, the people would have to figure out their own meals.
Manuela formerly worked in a business that catered to such events in Europe. I heard her talk with the pastor, Kristina, Jan, and others about what we should do. It hurt my head as they discussed different European and local issues foreign to me. Kathryn and I provided no help other than to say that we would be glad to come and help in any way we could. We would be happy in either location.
The Europeans at the table said they would make calls and determine the best option. They would let us know. We were all excited about the possibility. This conference would be the first for GES on the European main continent. If we can do it, it will be a start. We will learn from the experience. It could lead to more such opportunities.
We ask that all our readers pray that the Lord would give us all wisdom on what we should do. The board at GES will make the final decision when we have all the information.