150 YEARS OF UNITY(?)
150 years of the unity of Italy and for evangelicals here we are happy to remember the role of the Bible in this. Behind the troops who fought their way into the major cities of Palermo, Naples and Rome came the ‘colportori’, brave men who, with much sacrifice, little means and much passion for the Gospel, brought carts of Italian Bibles into the cities, crying out:
General Garibaldi boldly said: “This is the cannon which will liberate Italy.” Many of these Bibles were later seized and destroyed, but it was a period when many people were able to read the Bible in their own language and be saved.
Ongoing Scripture distribution
Today we still believe that this is the Book that can liberate Italians; real freedom of sins forgiven in Christ! And so, like the colportori of 150 years ago, today we desire to put the Word of God into the hands of as many as possible. Every Saturday morning in the town market we have a literature stall by the main bus stop in San Lazzaro, where we give out Bibles and copies of John’s Gospel and Ultimate Questions in many different languages. We find that almost every week people stop to take a copy and some people even jump off the bus to get a Bible! Also at the beginning of August we have a big town fair and every year we take our literature stand to this. Many thousands of people come to the fair, so it is a good opportunity to speak to people.
Witness in schools
Our passion, however, is not only to distribute God’s Word but to preach it! This year the door into a school in San Lazzaro has really opened through one RE teacher.We have been able to do a Christianity Explored course with a class of twenty 16-year-olds.
At times it is hard work to keep their concentration, but there are about five who have really followed this and all of the students now have a Bible at home. God willing this opportunity will continue next year with two classes of 19-year-olds. These will be much smaller groups and hopefully we will be able to have deeper conversations.
Promoting local cooperation
So is there unity in Italy today? Often there is very little unity. The North and the South are still two different worlds and there are some who would prefer division instead of unity. Sadly this mentality often permeates the church too. Italians can be very individualistic and often there is little relationship, collaboration or cooperation between Christians.
This year Stefano has worked as a regional motivator for Mission-net, whose goal, apart from the missionary conference for young Europeans (16-30 years), is to create networks and partnerships between local churches and missions. So with other like-minded churches and mission leaders in the Bologna area we are promoting a new vision for building relationships, praying for one another and working together to spread the Gospel in Italy.
At the beginning of July, together with three churches and Youth for Christ Italy, we organised our second summer camp for teenagers from non-Christian homes in the area. Twenty-one teenagers came along and at the end of the week we had a special service for them, their parents and five churches. It was wonderful to see these churches join for the first time to praise and worship the Lord together.
Please pray for us in Italy. Pray for all those who have read or heard the Word of God in recent days through the literature table, the work in schools, the camp and the town fair. And please pray that as believers we will show to the world the real unity that there is in Christ and that the Lord will be glorified in the lives of his people here.
(Follow the link to read the article from the EMF Webpage
Errata Corrige in Vision of Europe's Article:
The article is not by Stefano Mariotti and Vito Tangorra, but by Stefano and Jennifer Mariotti,
and the picture is not "San Lazzaro congregation", but the YfC end of camp service)