Junior Phillip Zamora and a group of students travelled to Ferrara, Italy, for six weeks to lay the groundwork for future mission teams. The team, part of a program called Let’s Start Talking, met with native Italians to improve their English. By the end of the trip they had encouraged four of their reading students to attend a local Sunday morning service.
The team went into the inner city to a coffeehouse where they read the book of Luke with whoever would participate. They also advertised to the local college in Ferrara. The team worked with a lot of older people from the church as well as younger college students.
Zamora’s childhood friend, junior Lindsey Farley, said that she had known Zamora since birth, and he had always been a brother to her. She was not surprised that he became so involved in a project like this.
“I know that Phillip was able to teach multiple people about God through the act of learning conversational English,” Farley said. “I know that he had at least one reader that was of a different religious preference, and I know that she had to have seen something different in Phillip, and she had to have known that it was because of his love for his God.”
Ken Graves, the director of Global Outreach in the College of Bible and Ministry, trained the group before they left for Italy. Graves invited them to his house every week and gave them cultural training. They ate cultural foods and had a workbook that helped them learn how to teach English to Europeans.
Europe provided a challenging mission field; many people called themselves Christians, but they did not live the life of a Christian or invest their time in anything related to missions.
“[For] a lot of people in [developing] countries, you take them something they need like food or water, and then you preach Jesus to them,” Zamora said. “Well, the people in Europe don’t need those things, and so they feel like they have their needs met, and so it is much harder to prove to them that they need Jesus.”
Senior David Ezell was one of Zamora’s partners on the trip and said that doing mission work in Europe was a whole different ballgame than that in developing countries.
“There are poor people in Europe, but the majority have what they need to get along,” Ezell said. “You are fighting the raging party scene of the young adults, the increasing agnosticism and the embedded Catholicism of the older generations. You have to truly just open and show them the Gospel and hope that they see Jesus through your example of living. To this day the best method evangelism is being Christ, and I believe that’s what people in Europe need.”
The Let’s Start Talking team made a tremendous impact on the people they met while in Italy, but the students felt the effects of the trip most strongly on themselves.
“I think Phillip grew in his faith during this trip,” Farley said. “He was able to share his faith in a unique way that not everybody has an opportunity to do. I hope that the people he came into contact with were able to see his faith and desire to have a faith like his. I know God used him in big ways this summer … even if it was only big to those he came into contact with.”