Monday, July 30, 2007

Crossers' Last Stand

Well, let's hope that our final days on the Ancona team, don't go down like the final days of Custer's last stand. From everything that has happened thus far, I expect quite the opposite. I anticipate a very tranquil "letting go" feeling. The girls are getting together at our house for a fun today together and the boys are getting together at Jason's house for some testosterone fun (video games), the only no shows will be Marcus and Josh. Marcus is leading our interns around in Rome as I type and Josh is on Home Assignment in the states (actually finishing up some course work at Regent Univ in Canada this week). We wish you guys were here too. Our last months have been filled with opportunities, ministry, relationship building, fun (we have loved our jobs here in Ancona) and growth. It is interesting to go through this pulling away, an experience that I am grateful didn't happen in a short band aid like rip. The time we planned in our transition has given us the opportunity to finish strong and leave behind some resources that we hope will aid the church in Ancona to grow. We will always feel a strong connection to the work here and will continue to lift the believers up before the Father. Thanks Ancona team for the fun adventure soaked ride for the past eight years. - Matt & Angie Crosser

PS - Feel free to keep up with our future work in Verona at our personal blog at or our team's blog at

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lots of Lasts

As I've looked back on our team's history, I laugh at how many transitions we've had. The last couple of months have been building up to what I believe is one of the biggest our team has faced yet. On July 31st, Matt & Angie Crosser will transition out of their full-time status on the GoAncona team and become full-time team leaders of the GoVerona team.

Matt & Angie arrived in Italy in March of 2001 into a team context that was still storming and heading into norming. In the past 6 years since then they have become some of our closest friends. We've seen each other's ugly sides and been with each other through the best and the worst of times of this ministry in Ancona.

Since being accepted as the leaders of the new team, we have continued to work together toward a smooth transition and it really has been. We've talked lots about this month and how there would be lots of 'lasts' and yet for all the talk and preparation, I'm beginning to experience the reality of those words and thoughts. Last retreat, last outreach event, last English lesson, last staff meeting, last team meeting, get the picture.

We will, of course, still see them for the next three months while they prepare to head back to the U.S. and we will still stay in contact when they are up North, but still, the reality of a post-Crosser team is starting to set in and I find myself full of emotion and anxiety.

Thanks Matt & Angie for your years of service together. Thanks for the laughs and meals and prayers and tears and dreams and new technologies and new TV shows and for everything else in between. As the lasts start to dwindle and fade and become replaced with lots of firsts up North, we wish for you a great new life and ministry in the fair city of Verona...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Sun, Having a Blast

The Summer is in full swing. Our interns have been involved with different areas of outreach supporting our overall ministry and vision. The Rotert family will be returning towards the end of the month, where they will be transitioning into their lives here once more. Angie and myself are in the strange place of winding down our involvement with the Ancona team here. Our transition to the new team has been going very smoothly to which we are thankful. After this month, you can find us on one of two blogs, our personal one which is at or our new team news blog at Feel free to follow along as we proceed forward with both of these church plants which support the long term plan put into place by Shively Christian Church and Team Expansion. After this month, we will still be here for a few months, but our focus will predominately be on the new church plant and team. Thanks for praying for both teams and the momentum we are seeing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

Monday we started our first summer English Club for kids. We have averaged 5 kids a day so far and it has been neat to see the interns busy teaching and loving on these kids. Today, after their time is over we will be heading to Palombina, a local beach for a day of fun, sun and grilled meat! We always miss family on these American holidays but are grateful for our team and friends here. Please keep praying for our team and for the interns as they just passed the half-way point. Have a Merry Independence Day from the GoAncona team!

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Last night, after the interns helped with their first Open English session (5 Italians in attendance), we held a short aperitivo from 19-20 to introduce them to some of our friends. We had about 12 people come and enjoy some snacks and drinks and meet and chat with our interns. I was SO encouraged to see how eager they were to dive in and chat with people and as soon as it was over, to jump up, clean and put everything away...especially after a very long day. I'm proud of them and excited to see what God does through them. Earlier that day, they handed out over a hundred invitations to the July English program at two different schools. To finish off a good, but long day, we hit Tunital for a well-earned kebab.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Hard at work

Here are a couple of pics of the interns hard at work. In the first picture they are focused on learning Italian, which they will be doing every morning. Then in the next picture, Angie is getting them ready for the Kids' English Outreach they will be doing next month. Be praying that God sends many kids to this new outreach.

Busy First Week

The interns have had a pretty full schedule since their arrival on Saturday. Today will be their most full day yet. Here's their schedule, to give you a peek:

8:15 Meet at La Via (our facility)
8:30-10:30 Language Lesson with Giulia
10:30 - 11:00 Quiet Time
11:00 - 11:30 Language Route
13:00 - 13:30 Hand out English Club Publicity
15:00 - 15:45 Open English Training
16:00 - 16:30 Hand out English Club Publicity
17:00 - 19:00 Open English (teaching English lessons)
19:00 - 20:00 Open House at La Via to introduce interns to some of our friends

This day is abnormally busy, but they do have a full schedule while they are here. Please keep Jen, Rae, April and Brian in your prayers. Thanks to them, we have already met a new girl, Gioia, who is interested in our Coffee House. Pray that God would protect them, unite them, form them and use them to reach the people of Ancona with His love!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

And then there were INTERNS!

Our team member, Josh Furnal, just barely left (yesterday morning) and right on the heels of that, our summer Pathways Interns have arrived. Four bright, excited and able interns ready to see how God will use them this summer here in Ancona. Here are a couple of pics from their first lunch.

May Coffee House

So, another month, another Coffee House. For this one we had a special treat. Marco Poeta, is a well known guitarist who has been specially trained in a portugese style of music. Each guitarist who is trained in this is known as a "Fado". If you go to youtube, you can search for some clips from our Coffee House. Just search for Marco Poeta. Here is a clip from another concert he did To make it a little easier to find our videos go here Enjoy the show! And here are some drawings I made of Marco and his other guitartist, Paolo.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Encounter Coffee House: The Pincers

Well, tomorrow at our event Encounter, we are having a concert by a local group called, "The Pincers". They classify their music as folk, jazz and folk-rock. This has all the makings of being a large scale event. If our normal visitors come plus the fans of The Pincers come it couuld be a real big turnout. Remember our purpose for doing these outreaches is to build community which in turn becomes relationships. Pray that relationships are started and deepened. If you want to check out the music of The Pincers, go to their myspace page at Tell us what you think!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chit Chat Open English

Every Wednesday, we have an outreach called, "Chit Chat - Open English". This is for those wanting to learn English. We have had Italians come with varying levels of skill in the English language; from very basic to those who can speak fluently. We supply different levels of lessons for them to work through with us and it is an opportunity for us to spend time and build relationships with more Italians. This week, tied one other week for the most attendance at an Open English, there were seven. That may not sound like much, but I remember times where we have worked for months on an outreach and only one or two people showed up. In those times, we have learned to be not only content, but also joyful that we can have a deeper discussion with only a few that come. However, it is also exciting to see nets being thrown over and coming back stretching at the seams, stretching by Italian standards anyway!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Discipleship, Trust & Oikos

When Maurizio gave his life to Jesus a couple of weeks ago, I found myself with the (exciting) task of shifting from an evangelistic focus to a discpleship focus. We continue meeting once a week for lunch and it is during these encounters that we talk about his walk, we talk about what he's reading, questions that he's come up with (yesterday's was "Why are we considered Christ's friends, but not his brothers?") and obstacles he's going up against.

I have been so impressed; not with him, not with myself, but with God, and the changes I can see Him bringing about in Maurizio, literally, tangibly before my eyes. His mom has seen the change and is so happy - she has asked if she could visit our Life Group or host a Life Group dinner at her house. Maurizio has shared with his banker friend (who used to read his fortune using rune stones) his discovery about Christ. He shared with Jara (who up until recently was doing some form of 'energy' therapy on him) about his decision and invited her to Life Group. She came last Sunday with her fiance and left really encouraged/challenged. Last night, our Life Group gathered for dinner at Maurizio's house. She came with her fiance and she asked if they could come back this Sunday. Maurizio also invited a friend from his old 'New Age community' to come to the dinner last night - he's really something and I had the chance to challenge him to consider Jesus as more than who he currently thinks he is. Maurizio also shared with his cousin what Christ has done in his life and she is curious and wants to visit our Life Group.

I remember reading in a book on cell churches a few years ago about the Oikos factor. (Oikos is a greek word which can be translated as: house, household or family.) Basically, the author says that as you get to know people and build trust with them, you will inevitably be introduced into their oikos or 'circle of friends and family' and when that happens, we need to be sensitive to those who are searching. That is definitely happening with Maurizio.

The longer I'm here, the more I draw the conclusion that in this Italian culture, saturated with skepticism and suspicion toward anything non-Catholic, building trust is uber-important. We've seen it in small ways - in how people don't respond to publicity very much. Instead, when someone begins to trust us, they invite people that trust them and on and on it goes into this big network of trust. Lo and behold, we have a community of people that trust each other - although somewhat tenuous. So what happens when the first few people fall in love with Jesus and begin the process of becoming disciples? Do you see how it could have a ripple effect, sending waves all throughout the community?

As I'm typing this, I just got a text message from Maurizio. He is so excited and happy with how the dinner went last night. He said he was also excited that Jara seems so interested and desires to be integrated into our community. Maurizio gets it and he's living proof of the change that God longs to bring about in every one of us.

Last week after Life Group, Silvia, herself having given her life to Christ a couple of years ago, told Maurizio how proud of him she was for sharing with the people in his life. How neat to see that this 'newbie' in the faith is already finding his place and purpose in the Body!

Friday, March 2, 2007

OCC Short Term Team Arrives in a Week

A week from this Saturday, Angie and I (Matt) will go to Rome to receive the latest short term team that is coming to assist our team. This team is coming from Ozark Christian College, where everyone on our team attended. The groups are always fun and they help out the ministry greatly, all while learning about missions and how they can be involved in the future. They will be with us in Ancona for about a week, where they will minister through outreaches and prayer walks. Pray that those whom God wants to come will come and that those on the short term team would be stretched.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Casey 7th Year Anniversary in Italy

They must have faced them. They must have. Doubts. I don’t know if it was hot or cold. We don’t really know how many of them there were. We do know they were assembled in a prescribed order. And we know they were commanded to march around 7 times. What must it have been like? Remove the Veggie-Tales slushies and the Sunday-School images and really step back in the story. They had already marched around once a day for six days, the priests, the trumpeters and the armed men. On this seventh day when they were commanded to march around seven times, what must have gone through their minds? I have to think that some at least doubted. If the ratio was consistent with the “10 were bad and 2 were good” then most of them did. And still they marched. What if they had quit? What if the sixth time around they simply said, “You know, this is stupid! Why 7? If God is God, couldn’t He just kill everyone inside and open the gate?” What if they had quit that sixth time around?

Now, flash forward with me a few thousand years to late December, 2006 and pan over to the ‘Texas Land & Cattle’ steakhouse on the North side of San Antonio, Texas. Heather and I were seated at a table with four friends and supporters from the Cowboy Fellowship. They had driven up to meet us and take us out to eat. Apart from the gifts and the check and delicious dinner, the thing that stuck with us the most from that evening was the encouragement from Pastor Pete. As we shared about the difficulty of ministering in Italy, the hard soil, the six years of toiling and seeing very little visible fruit, Pete simply stated, ‘What if the Israelites had stopped the sixth time around?’

So true, so simple: an answer that bridges the debate between those that say we are called to be obedient and others who say we are called to be successful. Often in Scripture we see the two going hand-in-hand.

So today, we find ourselves in Ancona, on our 7th anniversary of our arrival on the field and I’m even now tempted to doubt, tempted to ask, “How long?”. We walk in the shadows of these tall, spiritual walls and sometimes it is hard not to doubt – but we keep going. Seven years down and who knows how many to go. Our faith is in a God that is creative (who else would have people march around a city seven times) and above all, loving (who else would sacrifice his own son). He loves these people and wants to see things here in Ancona, as brother Wright would say, ‘put to rights.’ We believe He wants to see a church rise up, a real, living, breathing community of people that are passionate in their pursuit of their Creator, in becoming like Jesus and in giving everything they have back to Him.

So, though the walls may be tall, round and round we go.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Celebrate with us because our friend, Maurizio, was baptized today. And another makes it into the Lamb's book of Life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Expansion of Ministry in Italy

Our team is already busy with the tasks of this new year after coming back from our Winter Team Retreat. The Rotert family is in the states on their Home Assignment and the rest of us are here in Ancona.

In recent months, God seems to be moving in the hearts of individuals to consider Italy as a mission field. Angie and I have answered a call to be the Team Leader for a new team that will be going to Northern Italy. It will be a process that will take place over the next year and a half. We appreciate your prayers as we launch this new endeavor and for the rest of the team here in Ancona to continue the work that remains in front of them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January Ministry News

Here's an update of what is going on in January 2007! Everything is starting back up after the holidays.

The Casey family returned on Sunday. They will be spending the next few weeks readjusting to life here, as well as the time difference.

Kid's English Club is on Tuesdays and most Fridays. Angie teaches several kids each week and you can really see a difference.

Chit Chat Open English - Starts today. We usually have 2 or 3 people who will come to practice their English in focused conversation and friendship. Some people just like to talk, for some we have lessons. It is usually easier to use a lesson with someone who doesn't know English very well.

Friday night, January 12, is our monthly Coffee House. The theme this month is "Winter". We usually have in the double digits (around 10-15) who come. They can hang out in a very informal atmosphere, chat in English and listen to music. Sometimes we have Italians come in and play live music, but not always. When we don't, Marcus plays live music with a keyboard. Everyone always likes listening to his piano skills and sometimes the night turns into karaoke. On my sketch blog, I posted some artwork for our February Coffee House, with a theme of "The Valentine Blues", you can check it out by clicking here.

Every couple of weeks we have a special prayer time for our team. In warm months, it is outside in the piazza. Right now, when it is colder, we have gone indoors into a nearby Catholic church, which is open for anyone to come in and sit. There is usually only 1 or 2 people besides us inside.

Monthly, we have a team fun night. This is for our team to get together and build our relationships, which always helps our working relationships. This month, we have team visitors who are going to watch the Casey's and Roterts' kids, therefore the adults are going to go to dinner together.

Twice per year our team has a planning meeting, usually outside of Ancona. We will be having our meetings January 19-22. Please be praying for this because it is a foundation of everything we will be doing for the next six months.

Every week, we have our two Life Groups that meet in homes. These groups are in their early stages, building relationships and growing together in Christ.

The last thing to note is that the Rotert family is heading back to the states for six months for their Home Service Visit. They will be seeing family, supporters and supporting churches as they travel throughout the US.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Staff Meeting

Each week we have a staff meeting. Normally, we pray for needs and give thanks. Then I bring up some specific topics that we need to discuss (while I am serving as interim Team Leader, while Jason is in the states). Then I give a highlight of team/church activities for the week and sometimes month.After that we each go around and tell what is going on that week in our personal ministries. Then we close. It is a great time each week that keeps us focused and informed as we continue on in this mission God has given us.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

La Fonte in December

La Fonte is an event that we plan for the church to come together and have a special study. It enables us to spend a little more time than normal on a specific topic. Last Wednesday, December 6th, our topic was an "Introduction to Discipleship". This was prepared and taught by Josh Furnal, who is developing our adult discipleship. Below are a few pictures from the event. Angie prepared and taught a special kids lesson during the adult study. We even had videoconferencee thanks to the foresight by Josh and the setup by Brian.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Go Ancona News

This is the news for the ministry of Taking Christ to Italy: Go Ancona. The ministry is a non-denominational church plant in Ancona, Italy. Look forward to reading upcoming news about the different facets of our outreach, evangelism and discipleship.
Our church is structured in groups that meet in homes. Weekly, we have two groups that meet in two different homes for fellowship, worship, mentoring, encouragement, teaching and ministering to the needs of group members and the people of the community.
As needed we plan events to focus on different aspects of the church, such as, prayer, worship and teaching. At these events lessons are planned for children as well.

We operate a free English conversational program for adults, classes for kids and a monthly American style coffee house for adults to practice English conversation in an informal atmosphere. Our coffee houses have featured themes like 'football', 'autumn', 'hawaiian luau' and christmas, as well as live music and American style coffee drinks and snacks.

Bi-annually, we plan two contact events for deepening current friendships and reconnecting with relationships of which we have lost communication. Examples of these are Family Zoo Day, Picnic in the Park, Open House at our facility and Thanksgiving Outreach. Of these all, the Thanksgiving Outreach has gone over well in attendance. Italians have seen this american holiday on TV and in films, and this way they get to experience it up close and personal.

Our children's ministry has occasional outreaches like 'movie day', Christmas carnival, bowling, spring carnival and works in conjunction with our kids' english program. Most of the events are planned around a family style of ministry, where the whole family can come together.

As you read you'll see more about our ministry. If you ever have any questions please feel free to write us at