I recently returned from nearly one month of working in Italy. I worked in several parts of the country from Trento in the north to Naples in the south. This was my 4th ministry trip to this very unique country and the Lord certainly blessed and expanded our work there. My work included training/teaching and staff development of missionaries. There was also a good deal of pastoral care as well as quite serous individual and couples counseling. HE is faithful! I want to share with you some of the life-stories of the missionaries I worked with. The Lord is weaving a very diverse international fabric of people reaching out with His Truth to the beautiful yet spiritually desolate people of Italy.
Italy like Thailand? Really? Thailand prepared me to work in Italy. There are interesting similarities to these two countries. Both have populations around 60+ million. Thailand has less than one percent Christian. Italy also has less than one percent evangelical (born again) Christians. Superstition runs high in both nations. Italy actually has a higher missionary attrition (burnout) rate than Thailand! Only about one out of ten missionaries to Italy will continue past their first year.
Luke and Dawn Mann Americans working with Adventive Cross Cultural Initiatives in Italy and are our wonderful friends and ministry partners. It was through their hard work that all the missionary organizations connections and travel came together. The Mann’s have amazing international experience plus hearts of passion. Their multifaceted ministry in Italy is truly making a difference!
Marcieo and Noemi Ciechanovicz and family are from the country of Brazil. They have been serving in Italy for several years. They have had unusual and amazing success in reaching the Italian youth. They have weathered and persevered through many difficult challenges and the fruit of their ministry is growing.
Fabian and Charlene Abrahams are South Africans also working in Italy. I had the privilege of meeting an Italian man they led to the Lord. I asked him what was different since He came to know Christ. One phrase would sum up our lengthy conversation “I lived in death – now I have life!” Fabian and Charlene grew up under the horrors of the Apartheid system of racial segregation. Of the 3 racial categories (white, black & colored) they were labeled “colored” or people of mixed races. They remember violent attacks on their villages by club wielding police. The Lord transformed their hearts from pain and bitterness to forgiveness and passion, and then planted them in Italy!
Ronel and Ferdi – South Africians In this photo you see me alongside two missionaries that really touched my heart and to whom I bonded quickly. Ferdi and Ronel are missionaries to Brussels. I met them in Italy however while they were taking some “time off” to give a couple of weeks of service to Operation Mobilization. This couple carried an amazing joy, a zeal for service and pain in their eyes. This beautiful couple has been touched by very painful loss. The three of us wept together as they somehow managed to share their story with me. Their journey, a journey where this is no answer for the tragedy they experienced, has taken them to a few conclusions that fuel their sacrificial ministry today. “God is good, He is for us and sharing His love with others gives purpose and meaning to this life”.
Below are just a few snapshots of the culturally diverse fabric of those He has called to serve Him in Italy. It is a good work that they do!