In the Steps of the Heroes of the Faith
“This is just what I needed to hear!” one lady said to me after I finished preaching. It is always a blessing to see the Holy Spirit prepare the way as Bible truths are shared that resonate with people and the needs they have right at that time. God in His infinite wisdom leads circumstances in our lives so that we can hear His voice, through His Word, directing our path. In turn, He wants us to be a mouthpiece for Him so we can carry the message He has for some specific person in a specific place and at a specific time.
Italy was our destination this time. We had been invited to speak at a church in Milan, a city in the north of Italy. The meetings were well attended from the first day, Thursday, till the end, Sunday. Especially Sabbath was a highlight, with another church closing in order for its members to attend the meetings. The church where we had the meetings was absolutely packed with people, and it was a hot summer day in Italy. But in spite of the heat the people stayed and expressed their joy over the Word of God shared with them that morning. In the afternoon, an outreach was planned in the streets of Milan. These efforts had been organized before, but usually only a handful of people would join. To the surprise of the organizers, 50 people joined for the outreach program that Sabbath afternoon! It was quite a scene to see young and old walking up and down the streets sharing truth-filled material and fliers inviting people to the evening program. I was encouraged to see the enthusiasm among those that joined in the outreach, as it was the first time for some of them to engage in this type of work.
As I walked the streets of Milan with a new friend I had just gotten to know during the weekend, we came to the city center, and before us was the dome of Milan. This is an enormous cathedral with unnumbered sculptures presenting an overwhelming scene. On the very top of the cathedral is a huge golden statue of Mary with her arms open wide. Mary is said to be the protector of the city as she looks down on it. Inside the cathedral one can confess his sins to the priest. Sad to say, many have replaced the work of Christ with the work of man. Mary has taken the place of Christ, and so has the priest, who claims to forgive sin. Sculptures and symbols, rituals and traditions are placed between the people and God, eclipsing His character and hiding His Word. Looking up and seeing the statue of Mary just made me think and wonder how many people look in faith beyond that statue to Heaven where real protection may be found. It is a blessing to know that throughout time God has had His children that seek for Him alone for direction and guidance in their lives.
Some days prior to our arrival in Milan we were privileged to be able to visit the Waldensian Valleys in the northwestern regions of Italy. The story of the Waldensians is an amazing chapter of history, revealing the faithfulness of a people dedicated to follow God no matter what. Long before the Reformation in Europe, God had a special people tucked away in the mountainous regions of northern Italy. These people held on to the unadulterated truth, which caused them to be the special objects of hatred and persecution. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon of the Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions. Many were killed for their faith because they were not willing to compromise truth. God had provided a home for these people up in the mountains, which functioned as a natural fortress of protection against enemies. We were able to see some of the simple homes in which these people lived and some of the churches in which they worshipped.
In times of difficulty and persecution, they would gather in caves. Here they would pray and encourage one another in the faith. We were able to enter one of these caves, and it was a solemn moment to imagine the experience of these heroes of faith. Silvia and I were not alone on this trip. It was quite a special trip as many of our friends from the European Bible School were with us. As we stood in that cave, several started to sing, and we all joined in. Songs of praise and prayers to God ascended from that cave that day just like many, many years ago in the time of the Waldensians.
It is my prayer that God will raise up spiritual heroes of the cross today and that we might be among them. We are thankful for the time and experiences we gained in Italy and pray for the work that God is doing amongst His faithful modern-day Waldensians.
By Daniel Pel. Address: Bølbekkveien 8, 2860 Hov, Norway. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 47 61 12 22 48.