1. Tell us about your corps in Torre Pellice.
Our Corps is one of the oldest Corps in Italy! Lots of history there. We are situated right in the center of Torre Pellice. We have Sunday Services, Bible Study, Baby Song, and twice a week we open our Rishop – it’s like a Thrift Store, but more like a bazar or Church fundraiser. Once a month we give out food parcels to people as part of our social services.
2. What are some of the unique challenges in this corps and in Italy?
Many struggles are the same, like changes of officers or having to “hold the fort” without an officer for a while. The differences are certainly the fact that in Florida we had staff to manage and a substantial budget to work with whereas here we have neither! Donations do not come steadily and so we have the task to build a reputation, seek needs that are not yet being met, build relationships with the community, and find donors! Exciting!
3. How did you come up with the idea to start the Gap Year program?
The inspiration for this came out of my longing for community. If I had to pinpoint when it was birthed in me I would have to say in Berlin… where my family moved when I was thirteen. Those first months were incredibly hard for us but they brought us together. I can still see the six of us sitting around the dining room table, the food long gone, talking about life, laughing uncontrollably, and sharing our hearts. When I moved I lost all that. I mourned it. And then with time I started recreating it in my own life after getting married. The Lord gave me this passion for authentic and meaningful relationships and for gathering people around the table. I craved a safe place to be my true self, to heal and mourn and grow… and place to meet Jesus and be changed. Without realising it, what I craved became what my life was going to be about.
Two verses spoke to me and confirmed this vision: Acts 2:42 and 46
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”(MSG) and Romans 12:5-6,9-10 (The Voice): “We become together what we could not be alone… Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it. 10 Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers.”
4. How will this ministry impact your corps?
When we came here we asked God what His vision was for the Army here. We asked ourselves, if the Army were to close down here, what would be missed? What is a need we can meet? The Lord spoke of the outcast and the lonely and of discipleship. The basics, really! He gave us to see this place as the heart of the community, where anyone and everyone finds a home and a family. We saw people of every age coming for lunch every day and then staying for skill classes like budgeting or flower arrangement, chess, computer, or English. Children coming for after school activities and homework club. Families coming for Bible Study, Alpha Course, and Baby Song! We dreamed of Celebrate Recovery, Praise Meeting in English, and a Friday night meal. In one word:Family. In two words: Relationships: meaningful, deep, and authentic. Discipleship: Bible Study, mentoring, and evangelisation. The dream is not to have those who meet needs and those who are on the receiving end. We all have skills and we all have needs. We want to invite the whole community to participate in this. The florist might come teach a class once a month but she lives alone and would love company for lunch. The single mom needs help with her kids’ homework but she is a math genius and can offer budgeting classes. Here, everyone finds a place to blossom and grow and be.
5. Why do you place so much emphasis on the importance of community?
We were created to be a body. It’s through fulfilling our purpose as the body of Christ that we become more like Christ: iron sharpening iron, carrying each other’s burdens, finding and being a family through authentic and vulnerable relationships. The enemy has been very good at isolating us. We hide behind masks, believing that we should have it all together. I believe in holiness on this earth and the work of the Holy Spirit in me… But I also believe that I need other people’s honest testimonies of failures turned to victories, of brokenness turned to wholeness, of independence turned to surrender, and of sin turned to freedom. We can only shape and encourage each other if we are willing to lay down our masks. We can only share our testimonies of what Jesus has done in us if we are willing to share our stories. That’s why community is so important and I believe it is why the enemy makes us often run from it. As believers, we have community in our DNA, we were meant to live as a Body, and we can invite others into that by creating a space that is safe, loving, life-giving, and welcoming.