A Trip for Musicians and Historians

by Corinne Twigg - Office of Marketing | Apr 06, 2016
Italy Study and Choir Trip
On March 3, an excited group of students and faculty from the University of Valley Forge (UVF) embarked on an enriching journey to Italy. After taking in a number of towns and cities and sinking their adventurous jaws into the food, culture and deeply historical Christian climate of the land, many found that they returned home with more than they had packed in their suitcases — the priceless memories of a spiritually enriching trip.

Though 35 people from UVF boarded the plane to Italy, their mission varied. The majority of students were from UVF’s concert choir, there to minister through music. Combining efforts with a number of local missionaries, choir members were able to witness the manifestation of God’s presence, singing in churches, street corners and even spontaneously in places like the Pantheon in Rome. Ringing proudly with the hope of Jesus through the various cities they visited, their voices ministered to hundreds of people — even to the curious ears of those stepping into church from off the street. 

“We are grateful for God’s faithfulness in every area of the trip,” said William DeSanto, Ph.D. “The choir had been urgently praying that the Lord would open doors, and He certainly did.” Over the nine days spent in Italy, the choir put on a total of seven concerts. One of these concerts was at a church in Bologna. The church, which normally seats 200 people, was filled with more than twice that amount on the night of the concert when dozens of people heard the gospel for the very first time. 

A similar occurrence took place at the church they visited in Florence. Before the concert, the choir — guided by the direction of one of the AG missionaries — decided to promote the event by singing on the street corner and handing out flyers. To their surprise, the police came with the intention of shutting them down, however, upon seeing how many people were gathered around them enjoying the performance, they decided to allow them to continue. 

Tim Lewis, a senior majoring in music performance recalled an answer to prayer during the trip. He said, “Before we visited the second to last church, we got a call informing us that we would not have an interpreter for the service. Dr. DeSanto told us each to pray, resolving to use his knowledge of Italian to deliver a message. It was only two hours before the service started, that the brother of the interpreter who cancelled showed up as our interpreter. We were all amazed by that answer to prayer.” 

Alongside the choir, a smaller group of students enrolled in a special history course at UVF, set out for the purpose of exploring the rich culture, historic sights and spontaneous moments of unparalleled delight that Italy has to offer. This group, led by UVF faculty member and history buff, Professor Michael Di Giacomo, Ph.D., explored Venice, Florence, Milan, Trento and Padua. The seven students on the study trip were required to take a history course centered around the places of significance they would visit in Italy. It was the knowledge gained from this course that truly enhanced their educational experience in Italy. 

“In terms of a great moment in a student’s career, it’s really hard to beat,“ says Di Giacomo, “It’s one thing to talk about the Sistine Chapel, but it’s another thing to actually see it. History comes alive. You get to walk where the Caesars of that day walked — where Peter and Paul walked — and that makes your heart beat a little faster. Perhaps scripture comes to life in a new way as you come to see the armor of a Roman soldier and for the first time you truly understand the illustration Paul was drawing upon.” Di Giacomo also commented on the opportunity for students to engage in thought-provoking conversations about the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic traditions engrained on the culture of Italy. Many of the students left Italy with a deep desire to see God move on Catholic leaders. 

“Every part of this trip impacted me,” said Lewis, “I was touched by their culture and by the worship of those that participated in our services. I think that one of the greatest lessons this trip taught me was to be bold with my faith.” Lewis’s words echo what many of those in attendance on this trip felt. UVF is proud of the way each student represented the university and Jesus Christ in Italy.