We are very grateful to all of our friends and mission partners lifting up the current city wide evangelistic mission to Torino in prayer. We arrived on Thursday, 17th and have been working in partnership with close friends and partner churches across the city. Each day we will be preaching the Gospel at various events and street evangelism. A training programme has been set up for us to provide practical training in evangelism each evening. Some unique events are being arranged in local schools, Turin University, Judo Association, street ministry to homeless people and those caught up in prostitution, market place ministry, key events, one-to-one evangelism and pulpit ministry in churches. The mission comes to an end on Monday 27th April, God willing. Please pray that lost souls would find faith in Christ.
Turin (Torino) is a busy city in northern Italy, and the capital of the Piedmont region located beside the famous Po River by the Susa Valley. The population of the city itself stands at around is 912,000 and the population of the urban surrounding is approximately 2.2 million.
With a little over 87% of the population being Roman Catholic, the vast majority are nominal Catholics existing in name only. Most people have not heard the Gospel message, and consequently do not know or understand what the Gospel message is. A number of our team members have commented on the way they have sensed a dark spiritual climate over the city – and it is of no surprise to learn how the occult is widespread and Turin is considered by many people to be a world-renowned centre for Satanism, with its very own ‘church’ dedicated to Satan worship.
Like most Italian cities, Turin has a rich culture and history and is famous for many things such as Juventus F.C. and car manufacturers such as FIAT and Alfa Romeo. Turin is also widely known as the home of the Turin Shroud, and in fact an exposition of the Shroud opens to the public tomorrow morning at Turin Cathedral (April 19th– June 24th, 2015).
The Turin Shroud is a linen cloth that some believe to have been the cloth that Jesus Christ was buried in. Each of the three Synoptic Gospels mentions Jesus being wrapped in a cloth when He was taken down from the cross (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). The Shroud of Turin was “discovered,” or at least made public, in the 14th century AD. The Shroud of Turin is named for the city where it is kept, Turin, Italy.
Here is a webpage that contains some pictures / images of the Shroud of Turin: http://www.sindone.org; http://www.shroud.com/examine.htm. Upon examination, the Shroud of Turin appears to be that of a man who was crucified. There are markings in the hands and feet that are consistent with the wounds inflicted by crucifixion. There also appear to be wounds indicative of torture similar to what is described in the Gospels, around the head, back, and legs.
Is the Shroud of Turin truly the cloth Jesus Christ was buried in? There is of course much debate on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. Some are absolutely convinced that it is the burial cloth of Christ. Others believe it to a fabrication or a work of art. There have been some dating tests that date the Shroud of Turin to the 10th century BC or later. Other tests have found pollen spores that are common to Israel and that could be dated to the 1st century AD. But there is no conclusive date either way.
So, what are we to make of the Shroud of Turin? It might have been the burial shroud for some crucified man, but it is not likely to have any association with the death of Christ. However, even if it were the authentic burial cloth of Christ, the Shroud of Turin is not to be worshiped or adored. Our faith does not need to rely on the Shroud of Turin on any other relic for that matter, accept on the written Word of God. It is God alone who we should be worshiping!
In the Greek Islands there is place where you can seek out the home of the famous Hippocrates – the founder of modern medicine. There you will find an olive tree that supposedly dates back to the days of Hippocrates. That would make the tree nearly 2,400 years old.
The trunk of the tree is huge but completely hollow. It has an occasional leaf here or there and might produce a few olives each year. There are poles holding a few of its branches up.
The tree of Hippocrates can by definition be called a tree. By nature it still shows the essentials of an olive tree. But it has long since fulfilled its function.
Tourists file up from all over the world every year to inspect this ancient tree – having some link to a dim history.
But in all the fields around the tree are hundreds of olive groves in all directions. The strong healthy young trees with narrow trunks are full of leaves and produce thousands of olives each year.
To bring balance to the message, there is a story told about a Persian king who was elevated from a poverty-stricken home to the glory of a royal throne. When he became king he sent his servants to the old shack where he was reared, with orders to gather every relic of those days. They brought fragments of his home many broken toys, and old torn and tattered shirt, a crude wooden bowl from which he ate. All of these he arranged in a special room of his palace, and each day he spent one whole hour sitting among the memories of his humble past. On the wall hung a plaque: LEST I FORGET.
Do you see the challenge for the Church? The Church must keep its distinct characteristics. It must be a Church by its nature but it cannot stop functioning. We must ensure that the church is more than just an honourable relic of the past. The Church must be more than that. We must produce good fruit each day of the year. Of course to gain fruit we need to sow seeds. As Christians we must sow the seed of the Gospel into people’s lives, otherwise we will not be seeing any fruit at all. Senior Pastor in California, Bill Johnson pts it like this: “When you keep it within the walls, it dies. When you take it out where Jesus intended it to be, it happens.” It is high time that the Church woke up to its main task of proclaiming and spreading the Gospel to a lost world in need of hope…in need of love…in need of forgiveness…in need of the Gospel…in need of CHRIST!
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
1 Timothy 4:12-16
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
God bless you and keep on keeping on…