A free gift – will you accept?
Submitted by Raney Brown, a missionary in Italy with Crossworld
I met Pina about 15 years ago at the “Grandmothers’ School.” About 25 years ago two ladies retired from their teaching jobs where they taught how to make handmade lace articles. So they decided that they would offer to teach young women how to do these fine crafts for free and started a club for women who wanted to learn but the young women never came; they were probably working. Instead, older women came to learn and the club was christened the “Grandmothers’ School.” Pina attended regularly but she didn’t need anyone to teach her anything; she already knew how to make the most incredible things from tatting, bobbin lacemaking (see photo), cutwork embroidery and something really awesome called Reticello!
Pina was always really kind to me when I started going to the Grandmothers’ School and she corrected my errors in Italian (she was a teacher!) and she enjoyed talking to me a little bit in English which she remembered from her time in England during the II World War. She would often ask me questions about my faith. She would listen attentively and agree with me on almost everything. “Yes, we are all sinners and we need a Saviour.” “Yes, God sent His Son to pay the price for our sins.” “Yes, we are saved by God’s grace…. That we have to EARN.” And here we differ, greatly! Pina believes absolutely that she must earn God’s favour and grace. Over the years we have gone over this many times but she hasn’t budged. And yet, over the years, she still asks me to explain what I believe again and again.
Pina is 87 years old now and she is not going to the Grandmothers’ School anymore. However, my contact with her has not decreased but increased. She lives in the Upper City of Bergamo and the only access to her home is by climbing 105 steps up from the road below. A few months ago she told me that she was not going to renew her driver’s license and I immediately thought of the difficulty of getting her groceries and assured her that she had many friends who would help her with her shopping and before I could say that I too would help her she said, “Yes, I have YOU!” And so I began taking Pina grocery shopping! And carrying large bags up 105 steps (see photo) while she waits at the car to make sure I don’t get a ticket. Only residents can park at the bottom of the steps! She doesn’t often need groceries since she is able to get many smaller things right in the Upper City (for a price!), but I consider it a privilege and a great joy to be able to spend time with her whether it be visiting over a coffee or grocery shopping.
Would you pray with me for Pina? She needs God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ – a gift she can never earn but is there for her if she would but take it. Pray that God would give her understanding; that He would open her heart and mind before it is too late. She is my precious friend; God loves her and I love her too.
Raney and Pina