It’s normal for every believer to have an opinion about himself, his life, past experiences, etc. Well, I consider myself a very fortunate, or rather blessed, person. Why? My parents were a godly couple, whose lives left an impact on me since I was a boy. We lived in a southern area of Melbourne and attended a Brethren Church every Sunday. I was the youngest of six boys and remember well Dad reading the Bible around the table every evening after dinner – it was a sacred moment. Mum and Dad were deeply involved in our Church’s activities in the Assembly, including teaching in Sunday School and hospitality. Dad joined a team once a month going into the city to witness on the streets to men near the pubs, then bring them by bus to our hall to hear the Gospel and have a meal. The rule was they had to hear the Gospel first, then eat. They were pleasant times, and though some of the men were a bit drunk, the love of God was shared with many. This lifestyle of my parents left a seal in my mind even as a boy, because their sincerity and the fact that they lived the message they professed before my eyes, made evident they were authentic believers.
As a young man, I lived a normal life with my mates – working, playing sport, dancing, etc. Though I didn’t yield my life to Christ in my youth, I lived a clean life. At the age of 21 years, I met a friend in Judo club who launched the idea of going on a worldwide working holiday, so together we took a ship from Melbourne to London – a long 5-week trip stopping at different ports along the way. Near London, we worked in the port of Southampton and tried to find work on a ship to America, but it never happened, praise the Lord (he had better plans). I guess I was disappointed and unsatisfied, but one day, while walking along the main street of the city, I saw a sign outside an Evangelical Church. I was attracted, so on the Sunday, I attended a meeting. Well, the preacher hit on the truth I knew off-by-heart since my childhood days: John 3.16. God broke through to me, and after a meeting with the preacher, I repented, with tears, and was wonderfully saved. It was a miracle. My life changed dramatically.
I found a job at a YMCA holiday camp and immediately began witnessing to everyone. The Lord used me to touch many people, both young and old. While attending the Church there, I made friends with another young believer who invited me to attend an Operation Mobilisation conference in northern England. As I was keen to grow, learn and follow the Lord, I went. After a month of Bible teaching, teams were selected for the first time and sent to many different countries: India, Turkey, France, etc. Being available, I was chosen to join the team bound for Italy. This seemed really queer, as when I was a boy, I saw many, many Italian immigrants arrive in Melbourne who jabbered in their own language. The thought of going to Italy to preach the Gospel, not knowing a word of the lingo, seemed crazy. Yet I had peace in my heart that it was right. So my friend and I joined this international team in Italy for 3 years, not knowing the future, yet with the full assurance of being in God’s will.
Mixing with men of God during that period, observing their lives, perceiving their world vision and passion for God and Mission had a strong impact in setting my priorities in life. Looking back, I believe that my call to Mission began as soon as I was saved and was later confirmed. During those 3 years, I became aware of my need to become grounded in the Word of God, and despite the fact that I didn’t have real academic qualifications, the Lord opened the door for me to attend the Rome Bible Institute. This was a miracle in itself. I had no money to pay the fees to study, yet once again, God provided for my needs. Anonymous gifts just arrived out of the blue to pay my expenses for the entire 3 years. It was a real confirmation that I was in God’s will. Studying was a battle, as I didn’t know Italian well, but I learned the hard way: while making mistakes.
While at the Bible Institute, I met and fell in love with the Italian secretary, who also helped me learn the language. We married and sought the Lord’s face to know His will for our future. Through various circumstances, rather than returning to Australia, which seemed natural for an Aussie, we were invited by two evangelists to do Church planting and follow-up, caring for a group of newly born-again believers in a city north of Rome – the result of a successful evangelistic campaign. So we accepted the invitation and challenge, with fear and trembling, despite our lack of experience. It was a learning experience, guiding and teaching the new Church in its formative years. In the midst of spiritual battles, we learned to trust God for victories and growth.
After 10 years, when the Church was mature, we were invited and accepted the invitation to give assistance to the Brethren Church fellowship in Rome. We made the move in 1980, and have been here ever since. Our ministry consisted of evangelism with an emphasis on reaching foreign refugees, searching them out in the many government setup centres around the city. The majority being Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Egypt. The Lord blessed, and there were conversions among the Iranians. For a period, a solid group of 20 met in our Church twice a month for Bible teaching and worship. It was a very exciting and fruitful time of growth, during which an Iranian evangelist from another city was invited to take leadership, partly because we didn’t know their Persian language (Farsi). Later, many of the group were transferred to other cities, where they are now witnesses for the Kingdom.
Over the years, I’ve had the joy of bringing many to faith who have now moved elsewhere – to other cities in Italy, and countries like Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. It will be a joy one day to meet them all again in glory and worship the Lamb.
For years, I’ve witnessed to refugees on the street with my companion Walter in a built-up area. We have distributed thousands of DVDs of the Jesus film, plus literature in many languages. We have been persistent over the years, even though we haven’t seen many lasting conversions, but that’s normal among Muslims. Yet we rejoice that God has promised to honour His Word sown in the hearts of many, and in heaven we will see the harvest.
In all these activities, my wife, Nicoletta and I have worked together. She is especially involved in preparing tasty Italian meals for guests we invite home often. She also cares for people’s practical needs, both believers’ and not. We work together for God’s glory, and to see many saved and become disciples of Jesus.
By Bill Quinert