If you were at service this last Sunday you were made aware of the tragic deaths in a house fire of our dear friends Steve and Patti Gray, the pastors of International Christian Fellowship in Padova, Italy. Many of you know of our special relationship with this church and these co-laborers in Christ as a result of our annual missions trips to minister to the church but many of you do not know the profound role this church and these ministers played in the formation of Mercy Hill Church.
In 2003 I found myself between positions with no clear direction of God’s calling for the next stage in our ministry (or if there even would be a next stage). Pastor Steve called and asked us to come fill in at ICF-Padova for several months while he and Patti were back in the states raising funds. God used this time in our lives, along with Pastor Kevin, to birth in our hearts the church that would become Mercy Hill.
I wanted to share with you an email Chris Peterson, who is one of our elders, sent to the elder board in the wake of the Gray’s passing because I think it beautifully captures the profound relationship that can exist between two communities of faith separated by many miles.
Steve & Patti Gray went to sleep today but will be raised again by our Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for our sure hope!
Over the centuries our God has moved by His Spirit to proclaim the Good News to people in darkness. Many years ago Steve invited Tommy to come to Italy to help him care for the church there for a season. This happened at just the right time that led to (Pastor) Tommy and (Pastor) Kevin sitting around and talking over cappuccinos. It was there in Italy that the Holy Spirit chose to birth the idea that has now become Mercy Hill Church. So you see, Steve & Patti were key people God used to create the circumstances where step-by-step later Mercy Hill came into existence. I say it was just at the right time for Tommy too, having just been rejected by all so to speak, and was alone with Elise and a couple of others. God knew before the foundation of the world and had a plan to start Mercy Hill Church and it is clear Steve & Patti were part of that plan to help Tommy be where he needed to be at just the right time.
I wanted to share with you fellow elders that we at Mercy Hill owe honor to Steve & Patti for by His grace God used them in part to bring to pass the Mercy Hill blessing we see today. I support whatever God puts into Tommy heart to do to bless the Gray family and the church there in Podova that fittingly honors God’s vessels He used to bless us so profoundly. I know it may seem like a small part they played in Mercy Hill coming into existence but I suggest there would be no Mercy Hill Church today without Steve & Patti. Something else for sure, but not Mercy Hill as we know it today.
The Corinthian church in a sense owed the first church at Jerusalem (2 Cor 7:13-9:1) for the gospel came to them via that church.
Please join us in lifting the Gray family and the family of ICF-Padova in prayer before the Lord as we all mourn the passing of these dear friends to whom we owe such gratitude. It will be our calling to continue to honor Steve and Patti by blessing this precious church however we can in the days and years to come.