Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends

Roseto and Prayer

This month sees probably the first ‘Prayer Retreat’ in the SM. That has got me thinking about a connection between Jesus’ advice to enter your closet and close the door and a town called Roseto*.

Roseto Valfortore is a very small mountaintop town of approximately 1317 residents in the province of Foggia in the Apulia region of southeast Italy. The residents, desperately poor and mostly illiterate have through the centuries worked in the quarries of the surrounding hills. In 1882 a group ventured to move to a land of opportunity – and found work in the quarries near the town of Bangor, Pennsylvania, USA. News went back to Italy and soon others from Roseto followed. They all began buying land near Bangor on a hillside and set up town called Roseto – modelled on the one back in Italy and attained a population of 1,653 at the 2000 census. Bangor is largely Welsh and English and the next neighbouring town is largely German and given the traditional relationships between the Brits, the Germans and the Italians, Roseto is strictly for Rosetorians.

Enter Stewart Wolf, a physician and John Bruhn, a sociologist who both taught at the University of Oklahoma. Wolf stumbled across the fact that heart disease is rare under 65 for people living in Roseto. He triggered a large research project into the heart disease rate of the town. Medical records, genealogies, blood samples, EKGs, – every person was tested. The results were amazing – virtually no one under 65 had heart disease. Men over 65 had about half the heart disease for the rest of America. Now the search was on for the reason. Sociology, dietary factors, genetics, location, exercise, location – all came to dead ends.

Then one day as Bruhn and Wolf were walking around Roseto – they noticed how the people related to each other, visiting each other, stopping to chat, cooking with and for each other, respect for grandparents, three generations living together, the unifying and calming effect of their church, the other centred ethos of the community etc – and they realized that they were looking at the key to the health of Roseto – community!

Now – what about Jesus’ prayer closet? The truth is that if you go into your prayer closet and close the door and you are the only one in there –then you have simply entered an echo chamber and I suspect that God may be outside. But if you go in and take your community with you, He is in there too and will abundantly bless your heart – spiritually and physically!

Llewellyn Edwards

*See ‘The Roseto mystery’ in “Outliers – the story of success” by Malcom Gladwell