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Stories & Blog

The Search for Belonging

ITALY — By the time Diane walked up to the church street booth in Milan, Italy, her 44 years of hurt had left a hole in her life that even “religion” couldn’t fill.

She had attended church for a while as a child, but after her father left, she spent all her time caring for her family. Without a male role model in her life, Diane turned to relationships, giving everything to someone who promised to love and care for her. One by one, each relationship dissolved and Diane slipped further into desolation.

She began to read a Bible and eventually she returned to the tradition-based church of her childhood, still searching for a sense of belonging, but the things she heard there didn’t line up with what she read in the Bible. The more Diane read of Scripture, the less the religious rituals made sense. Day by day she grew increasingly dissatisfied with the church’s answers to her problems.

Feeling completely empty one day last March, Diane spotted a booth on the street that advertised an evangelical church close to her house. Similar churches all around the city had coordinated this day to set up booths, give away Bibles and promote the upcoming March in Milan*. Diane noticed one of the booths and stopped, talked with the pastor, took some brochures and decided to try a Bible study the next month at this church.

From the first time she attended, Diane sat captivated by the message, amazed that the leaders weren’t teaching more religious rituals to follow, but that they taught straight from Scripture. Rachel, a Crossworld member, noticed Diane was new to the Bible study and invited her over for a meal, where they talked about the Bible and how to know if you are a child of God.

“I really want to give my life to the Lord,” Diane said. “I want him to be in my life. I want to start all over again. I’ve made lots of mistakes and I want to start fresh with him.”

Diane put her faith in Christ in that moment, not promising to follow religious traditions as she had as a child, but committing to a relationship with her Lord and Savior. She now talks to her mother and sister about Christ regularly, and though they had been very opposed to the gospel previously, they are beginning to ask questions.

Rachel keeps in contact with Diane and is encouraged to hear she continues to study the Bible eagerly. She wants to read the Scripture and she wants to know what Jesus has to say. “I am following in Jesus’ footsteps,” Diane said. After years of living with the pain of her earthly father’s rejection, she is reveling in her heavenly Father’s perfect love.

*At the end of a month-long evangelistic campaign, nearly 5,000 believers from 55 churches paraded through Milan in March to give glory to Jesus Christ together as one body. They carried banners and handed out flyers inviting people to church, all the while flooding the city with praises to God. Crossworld members in Milan have already made many new connections with people like Diane as a direct result of the evangelistic campaign.

Italicized names were changed to protect identity.

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