Italy Trip Report
by Linda Howell
The annual Summit of the NLI Network was hosted in Bari, Italy March 4-7, 2014. Following it, EMERGE was invited by the Chiesa Cristiana Evangelica Italia [CCEI] to provide a Saturday morning event for local church leaders and an afternoon women’s event at the all’Nicolaus Hotel [Sheraton] to help celebrate international Women’s Day. Something unique to Italy is a six-day work week but many had the day off because of the holiday. About 200 women of all ages took advantage of the opportunity.
The theme was Story and Why It Matters. Linda Howell, Judith Green, Stephanie Sikorski, Diane Kaplan, Tammy Magaldi were present. Also contributing were Leanne Rhodes, Judith Linnell, Denise Stevanus and Liliana Spiridilliozi of the NLI Network family.
The Team was wonderful in threading their teachings and testimonies as one cohesive story that celebrated the redemptive and healing work of Christ in their lives. Clearly the message that Jesus makes our lives better and because of His power at work in our lives, our purpose and impact has been greater than any of us dreamed possible. During prayer, several women responded to asking Jesus into their hearts.
This one-day event gave the EMERGE team and the Italian nationals an opportunity to meet and explore the possibility of partnering for leadership development and training in the future. This fellowship of churches is newly formed and in process of putting structure in place for future growth. Part of that process includes establishing a national women’s leadership team. Once they are in place Linda Howell will return to continue seeking a way forward together.
Italy Trip Report
by Stephanie Sikorski
Hosting the EMERGENCE women’s conference in Italy was an amazing experience in vulnerability.
Usually it is the habit of the EMERGE team to host women’s leadership conferences in countries where a previously established relationship has been nurtured. However, as many EMERGE team members were in Italy for the NLI Network Summit, it made for a perfect opportunity to bring a taste of EMERGE to Bari. This certainly created a sense of nervous faith as we came hoping to be received and optimistic that a mutual connection would be made.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014, we began the day with a time of ministry to leaders. As fifty or so women gathered together the anticipation was palpable. They seemed poised to receive and we certainly came ready to share. Team leader, Linda Howell was first to address the gathering, sharing her story when she responded to God’s call to come out of the shadows and into His divine calling for her life. Testifying that this message to ‘come out’ was not solely for her but also a beckoning to all daughters of the King.
The members of our team present: Judith Green, Stephanie Sikorski, Tammy Magaldi and Diane Kaplan, each shared snippets of their testimonies verifying that coming into God’s glorious light has been a miraculous time of healing from some tragic life events.
Linda closed the morning session by reminding the women present that it is possible to make a difference in our areas of influence and that by shedding the shadows we hide in, due to insecurity, fear or even affliction, we can be released to be an impactful force in our communities.
That same afternoon, the conference moved to the Sheraton Nicolaus Hotel and a definite energy was present. After a beautiful time of worship the EMERGE team presented a sampling of some of the workshops and keynotes available in the EMERGE conferences. Judith Green, of the UK, shared about the importance of abiding in the shelter of God illustrating the point with her Union Jack umbrella. She was both practical and inspirational.
Judith Linnell, also of the UK, shared a rousing message of hope including biblical insight in dealing with the fear in our minds.
In closing, I had the opportunity to share about the importance of understanding our individual stories and allowing God, the ultimate author, the freedom to write a great story with our lives.
At the end of the day, when every good story had been told, every last EMERGE promotional material given away and our bodies a little spent, it was clear that we had been received as much as we had welcomed the Italian women into our own hearts.
It think it’s often that way when God’s people connect. Regardless of culture, locale or language, when the daughters of the king receive each other with grace and hope, hearts become mended. At least mine did. Also, a little Gelato helped too.