The culmination of this trip was a big tent concert featuring Randy Stonehill, Mike Pachelli, Bob Kilpatrick, and Steve Puleo. So after Sunday service and a quick lunch (only 75 minutes), we took the train back to Rome (van broke down).
With practically no rehearsal, we put on an hour and a half concert and worship celebration, bringing together many of the discrete evangelical churches in the area. I was the keyboard sideman for the concert, pretty much sight-reading charts and smiling a lot. I also got to rip off a few impromptu solos (“Manuel, take one!”), which was fun, albeit unexpected.
At the end, everyone seemed blessed, not just by the music of these guys, but to a greater degree, just the fact that all the churches got together. Which I think may be the most significant part of the trip. We went out to pizza afterwards with our hosts, then went back to the apartment to debrief. I went to bed at about a quarter to three, and had to get up at six to catch my flight. Such is the life of a rock and roller, I guess.
I want to share about a particular ministry here called “Cristo e La Risposta” or “Jesus Is The Answer.” Basically, they are a nomadic group of American and Italian Christians who trace themselves back to the Jesus movement of the seventies. They live in small trailers set up like a compound, with the main building being a large blue and white circus tent which is their main meeting space, church building, and concert hall. Currently, there is a small, tight community of about 100 people (75 adults and 25 home-schooled children), which has existed in this way for the past 30+ years. They will find a large piece of acreage and, with the proper approvals, simply move onto the property. They have been in Sicily, Naples, Rome, and other areas of Italy. They have a communal worldview, sharing a lot of the chores, money, and labor, and obviously, they live an economically spartan lifestyle.
One of the leaders of this ministry, Dave, is originally from Connecticut, and has been with the ministry for decades. He and his wife and two young daughters live in a trailer that is 8 X 8 X 16, smaller than my living room. He modeled a servant’s heart to us throughout the trip, shuttling us around, showing us the sights, ordering our food for us, negotiating the purchase of music equipment at the local music store, and mixing our concerts for us. They are amazing people.
The thing about it is that they are among the most well-adjusted and satisfied people I have met. They shuttled us around, they helped us with interpreting, they ran our tent concert, and they basically served us selflessly during our stay. One young man I met, Jesse, is 23 years old and was born into the ministry. He was helpful, well-mannered, socially adept, unpretentious, and loved God deeply. He was normal. It was amazing.
I continue to reflect on the life I live, in contrast to the life of these folks. The master bedroom of my house is larger than the typical living area for a family of 5 or 6. They don’t have much but lack for little. Praising God is a lifestyle in a very organic and natural way to them. As much as they were thankful for our presence and ministry, I was humbled by the example of their attitudes and heart for God.