Mission work draws Vicksburg native to Italy — twice

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 11, 2008

“Gesu e morte  sulla per per Croce per i peccati della monde” is a phrase Vicksburg native Lacey Mai Boswell knows well.

“It means Jesus died for the sins of the world in Italian,” Boswell said. “We teach them that not only is that true but Jesus lives today. Italian students have been taught tradition but not who Jesus really is. They still have him hanging on a cross.”

Boswell, a 2003 graduate of Warren Central High School, has lived in Salerno, Italy, for most of the past year as an international intern for Campus Crusade for Christ.

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“On a weekly basis, if not daily, we spend time talking with students at the University of Salerno about what kind of role God plays, or does not play, in their lives,” said Boswell. “We try to get to know the students as well as possible with the intention of sharing our lives and how Jesus is a part of our lives.”

Salerno, a city of about 140,000, is located in southern Italy. Boswell said she first heard about it and the need for volunteers there through the non-denominational Campus Crusade for Christ on the campus of Mississippi State University.

After initial plans to go during the summer of 2006 did not pan out, Boswell almost dismissed the idea. When she found out she was going to graduate earlier than expected she began to pray seriously about the idea.

“I asked God to turn the light red if it wasn’t what he wanted for me,” said Boswell. “I will say that I got a lot of yellow lights; my parents weren’t so excited about the idea, the amount of financial support I would need to raise…. But among these glitches I received a wealth of peace and burst of encouragement from the Lord.”

Boswell, baptized Southern Baptist and a former member of First Baptist Church of Vicksburg, began attempting to raise money for her venture in April 2007, five months before she was supposed to leave. She found out quickly that not many saw Italy as a mission field that needed to hear about the Lord.

“It’s hard to tell people you’re going to share the Gospel in a country where the Vatican is located,” said Boswell, whose parents, Naomi and Steve Boswell, have since left Vicksburg for California. “At times, the process of preparing to go seemed bleak.  I was working at a movie theater almost fulltime, taking summer classes and traveling to raise support.  I remember one night in the Chapel of Memories, on the campus of MSU, I sat and wept. I literally felt like I was at the feet of Jesus. And then I realized, it was good. I realized that I couldn’t convince people it was a good idea. I couldn’t convince my parents that I was going to be safe. I couldn’t convince people I had all the answers. I couldn’t promise people a perfect outcome …  I couldn’t raise $42,000 on my own.  But somehow in September of last year, I stood with my feet in the sand on the small beach in Salerno and realized that God brought completion to something he called me to.”

Boswell originally planned to be in Salerno for the 2007-08 school year but as her time was drawing to a close she felt she was supposed to stay.

She returned home for 2 1/2 months and then flew right back to Italy, despite the fact that she had not yet raised the money she needed to stay another year and has plans to stay until God calls her to be somewhere else.

“I love watching the light come on in the hearts of Italian students that God is living and active in these days,” said Boswell. “I love learning that faith builds by the daily stretches that come throughout life. I love that God does not want to leave us alone.  He is reaching out to nations, fulfilling his promise that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that he is Lord.”

Boswell invited the people of Vicksburg to be a part of praying for the ministry using Colossians 2:8 as a key verse: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy that depends on the world and its traditions rather than on Christ.”

To find out more about Boswell’s ministry or to contribute to her cause, visit http://www.give.ccci.org/give/0595256.