A conversation with a sinking feeling...

Huw Williams | 17:35, Sunday 14 April 2013 | Turin, Italy

It's not what you would call a frequent conversation yet, but it is happening with more regularity. I dread having the next one, but I know there will be more to come. 

"We're having to relocate, Pastor... we can't find work here any more... there are no jobs and when one comes up, hundreds of people apply... We don't want to leave but it will be easier to find work back in...."

And our hearts go out to them. They have no desire to take their leave, to uproot their families from schools and homes, but it really does seem as though they have no option.

there are no jobs and when one comes up, hundreds of people apply...

As the economic crisis continues to bite, you didn't need to be a genius to predict this kind of a problem. For some time now there has been a very small trickle of people from our church family here who have had to take their leave in search of employment elsewhere. But with each new conversation like this, there is always the nagging fear that the trickle may become more steady.

Suddenly a vision impresses itself on me of how rapidly the dynamics of our church congregation could change. And this congregation has always been used to a certain transience, as people join us for a brief sojourn in the city for a few months or a couple of years and then move on to pastures new. But the very real prospect of the coming months and years is of something very different altogether.

When I was a teenager it felt like every missionary meeting I ever attended came with the famous challenge, "It's not a question of are you called to go, it's a question of are you called to stay!", and never has that phrase seemed more relevant. Do join us praying for God to raise up a church of brothers and sisters with the opportunity and the willingness to respond to the call to stay, with all the sacrifices this might mean for them.

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