Italy - a forgotten mission field
Typically when evangelical Christians in America think of the Lord’s global mission they automatically think of tribal people needing to hear the gospel or poverty stricken countries needing economic relief. Biblical missions, the Lord’s mission, however, has everything to do with the Gospel being proclaimed to every nation and all people groups, no matter if they are located in jungles, slums or well developed cities and lands. Further it is about making disciples of Christ and planting biblical churches.
Italy for example, is a relatively well-to-do country. It’s people eat and dress above average. They have paved roads and normal cars. Physically speaking, they have no needs that we would ordinarily think of regarding missions work. In fact, even Italians, when they think of missions or missionaries (of the Catholic type) they assume the missionary is working in African villages. Yet to the astonishment of most evangelicals, 99% of Italians have not yet even heard the Gospel. As a result they have not understood the wrath of God that rests upon them, they have not repented of their sins and turned from their sins to then embrace Jesus Christ by grace alone through faith alone for the salvation of their souls, to the glory of God alone. They are not saved. The word “gospel” to them simply refers to a small book hidden within the church (Roman Catholic church). They are not aware that the Gospel is a message of salvation. They are not even aware that they need salvation because in their understanding they were saved when they were baptized as babies, having entered the embrace of the Roman Catholic church. How they live day to day has no effect therefore because, as it is said, “God is love”. The only thing that may change is the amount of time spent in “purgatory” based upon how good or bad one has lived their life...
By now, however, none of this is even relevant to the average Italian, at least in the North. Northern Italians are more and more post Catholic. I say “post Catholic” rather than post Christian because it is our belief that there is a big difference, but that is another topic for another day. Few Italians actually believe the teachings of the Catholic church. In fact, though 90% of Italians are Catholic, only 5% of them are practicing Catholics. Though few are practicing Catholics they live in a predominantly Catholic culture. In every city, town and village the highest point is always the church bell tower. In a very real sense the church has dominated over, even oppressed the people, ringing its bells in their ears every hour. But without the true Gospel being proclaimed most of the people have grown cold towards the things of God. “Indifferent” is the word that best describes the average Italian person towards the things that make up Christianity.
The situation in Italy is dire. The need for missionaries is overwhelming. The need for missionaries that will persevere and stick around is also overwhelming. Sadly, 90% of the evangelical missionaries that come to Italy end up leaving within 4 years. It is not without reason that many have called Italy the graveyard for missionaries. Too often they come excited and expectant only to leave discouraged, beat up and full of doubts.
The Lord’s mission is a global mission to every nation and tribe and tongue. Since most American Christians still associate missions with tribal work, we consider Italy a “tribe” in a “spiritual jungle”. It’s a large tribe made up of 60 million souls. Less than 1% of which have heard the true Gospel and embraced it. Only when we properly understand the scope of Jesus’ Great Commission, then are we able to see that Italy is indeed one of the most needed lands on this planet today.
Practical Missions Cohort exists to help meet this need. We are now set up in Italy to evangelize, make disciples of Christ, strengthen Christ’s disciples and see the Lord form church bodies with Italian men equipped in pastoral ministry. To fulfill this mission we have committed our hearts to creating awareness of Italy’s need and providing opportunities for Christ’s disciples in the USA to come serve and make a difference. We can reach very few souls on our own, but with the united efforts of God’s people we believe many missionaries can be sent out and equipped to bear fruit even in spiritually barren Italy. We believe God has many people in Italy that He desires to see reached with the true Gospel. We believe Jesus desires His church around the globe to come alongside the small and fragmented church of Italy in order to help her stand firm and reach out to a people that has been spiritually abused, abandoned and deprived of true Gospel food for countless centuries. PMc exists to help make this a reality for the Lord’s church in Italy.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
We at PMc invite you from our hearts to consider how you can help make a difference in Italy where the poverty is a spiritual poverty and the way to help relieve it is only through the Gospel proclamation from the true church made up of regenerate believers obeying Christ and ‘going’ or ‘sending’. God bless you as you consider a role in this mission!