Faith & Family

Enjoying God’s big wide world and all the people in it

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Randy Ashurst

Being a child of a career military man and also having over 20 years in the Air Force, I learned early that the world is a great big place with a lot of different people occupying it. That Sunday school song I learned long ago is true: “He’s got the whole world in His hands; He’s got the whole world in His hands …” His people cover the world, and what a beautiful world He created! 

I like to travel and see new places and visit places I have lived before. This past spring, my wife, Gail, and I, along with some friends, visited Southern Italy. We flew into Naples to begin a two-week vacation. My wife and I were stationed in Naples about 30 years ago and remembered it for the wonderful food and the trash on the streets. (Very diametrically opposed ideas, but generally ask anyone about Naples and they will respond concerning good food and trash in the streets!) 

LOCAL RADIO announcer Randy Ashurst, pictured with Airbnb hosts in Italy, traveled this spring with friends and his wife, Gail, (seated below). Their travels enabled them to fellowship with other believers, appreciate God’s creation, and learn about Italian food, culture, and history.

The food this time was delightful, the trash was just as ugly, and the people were as kind and friendly as ever. The city has an old-world flavor, but it is a big city with all the traffic and congestion. Our first full day in Naples was spent doing a walking sightseeing tour of the city and, unbeknownst to us beforehand, it was a celebration of the 1945 liberation of Naples from Nazi occupation and the end of dictator Mussolini. There was joy in the streets as people too young to have been a part of that liberation were experiencing the relief and exaltation of a family fest holiday denoting freedom. 

God allowed us to enjoy the exhilaration, knowing that our parents were a part of the process that brought freedom to Europe and beyond. The streets were crowded with families and couples sharing the day, and we took respite in a cathedral and listened to a children’s choir raise voices in adoration to the One who sits on the throne. 

Dinner that evening was in a local trattoria for pizza. Our waiter waited patiently as we said grace before the meal and then joyously told us that he, too, was a Christian evangelical. 

Next, we were off to the island of Ischia, about a 50-minute boat ride from Naples. Oh, the beauty of this island!  Gail and I had not been here before and how we wished we had brought our children here 30 years ago. It would have been a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of Naples. But, yesterdays cannot be changed; we could certainly enjoy the new creation of a new day. 

We centered our visit in the port town of Forio. Although a tourist area, it was not as crowded as Naples and there was no litter to be found anywhere that we could see. We spent time at the local botanical gardens, which was a total delight. So many flowers were in full bloom and the view of the harbor was spectacular from the hillside. How God came up with so many ideas of flowers and colors and designs…  Many were similar to what we see in North Carolina, yet so different. 

We toured the ruins of Pompeii one day and we were certainly glad it was late April and not July or August. It was hot and it was crowded, but it was so amazing to see the remnants of those who lived there almost 2,000 years ago. It made me wonder if one or two of those who died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius may have seen and heard Jesus speak in Jerusalem or Capernaum. Or, maybe they had heard Paul or Peter speak of Him before they themselves were killed. Tradition tells us that both Peter and Paul died in Rome, so it would not be unreasonable that some residents of Pompeii could have heard them preach, or maybe even have sat down with one or the other for a discussion or a meal. 

The last of our vacation was spent in the little town of Pizzo, located in the foot of Italy. We attended church with our Airbnb hostess. The choir that sang that morning must have been borrowed from heaven, for it certainly sounded like an angelic choir. Of course, we did not understand the words, but the joy was plainly heard by all. 

Our Airbnb had a full view of the Mediterranean Sea from our windows, and oh what a view! There must have been a storm at sea, because the waves were crashing up against the blocks continually. On our last day, we finally saw a calm sea. The blues and the greens in the water were spectacular! Seeing this site was another confirmation to us that God has His hand in all creation daily. His hand is also on people everywhere as we felt His presence in the people we met throughout this vacation. 

We spent our last night in Italy totally exhausted and happy to be returning home. Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” had it right, “There’s no place like home,” but if you are part of the family of God, you find sweetness wherever you are. 

Randy Ashurst and his wife, Gail, attend Discover Church in Franklin, and Randy is the voice behind radio stations WFSC 104.9 FM and 1050 AM show “Tell It and Sell It,” airing Monday through Friday from 9:05 a.m. until 10 a.m. See the Macon Sense article about Randy’s career: