Ini is originally from Nigeria and has lived in the USA before moving to Italy. I met Ini when we volunteered at a Christian sports camp in northern Italy. Ini is passionate about sharing Jesus’ love through sports to children and teenagers.
Ini feels that God has called him to Italy and therefore lives there serving the youth he works with through his church and community sports clubs. I’m excited to share this post where he opens up on how he overcomes times of loneliness.
Guest Post- Ini Thomas
So I have been here in Italy for a little over 7 years. That’s quite a while to be in a place where you don’t speak the same language and where you are surrounded by a people and a culture that are in so many ways different from yours. Most of the time it’s all good and then on some days, out of the blue it hits you hard in the face.
That feeling of being an outsider. I have met a lot of people out here. I coach, I play on a team and I am attached to a local church. In spite of this there are still some moments when I feel incredibly alone physically. There are times when I long for someone to talk to. Days when I wish I had some people that I could call up and say “Hey, let’s hangout tonight.” I miss the companionship of people who share the same faith and belief in a God who is above all things. I am not saying that there aren’t any Christian folk here. The problem is that the churches here are often so small that it is hard to find people who have the time and are able to meet up and do things together. A lot of my time is spent hanging out with folk I meet on the basketball courts. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to go a random court and meet new people who share a love for the game, but these relationships, though really good and meaningful, do not satisfy the craving for real companionship.
So what do I do when the feelings of loneliness weigh heavily on my shoulders out here far away from family and friends?
- I look to heaven.
Often when the loneliness hits hard it is because I have taken my eyes off of the friend who sticks closer than a brother. The friend who never leaves me, who will never forsake me. The friend who died to set me free from the punishment for my sin. His name is Jesus. He is the reason I am here in Italy in the first place and I know that I can call on him when I am feeling lonely and in need of comfort.
- I refocus.
Turning my eyes from the situation around me and looking upwards helps me refocus. By refocus I mean that I am clearly reminded of why I am in Italy and what the mission is. The mission is to share the gospel with the young people I interact with on the basketball courts. They are not interested in coming to the church so why not take the church to them? This is the thought that has led me to stay here in Italy for so long. I believe God laid this on my heart. This thought gives me a sense of purpose and this purpose drives me on. Refocusing on the mission helps me overcome the feelings of loneliness. I am able to now go back out there and share life with kids and their families, to be salt and light to the people of sports.
- I hold on to God’s promises
I don’t claim to be completely rid of the feelings of loneliness. They still flare up from time to time and it can be so overwhelming. I can honestly say that my faith in God and the sense of purpose with which he has filled me have been very helpful to me over the years. Holding on to the promises in the Word of God has sustained me through some very difficult times. The knowledge that he will never leave me nor forsake me (Heb 13:5), that he will be with me to the end of the age (Matt 28:20), and that nothing will ever separate me from his love (Rom 8:35), these promises are new every morning and they have comforted me and lifted me out of the strong overwhelming waters of loneliness. Hold on to the promises of God and you too can be lifted high above them.
✞ Are You Really In?
PS. Did you enjoy reading this post? Read more from Ini on his blog Lend me Your Ears