When I tell people I work in Italy with a missi on organisation the general response is ‘Italy – they don’t need mission workers!!’ However there are a few reasons which I could suggest that this is not true and these would be my reasons for being here. The number one reason would be as follows.
While the Roman Church obviously started here in Italy for many who follow Jesus it has lost its calling and its vision Christ and His church. The Protestant reformers (Luther et al) disputed the teaching and practices of the Roman Church and brought about a Great Schism in the church. Previous to this movement of reform Pierre Valdo (or Waldo) had inspired a movement known today as the Waldensian Church (after their founder) and eventually this movement settled in the mountains in what are now known as the Waldensian Valleys. They survived one of the worst persecutions of any reformed movement and eventually joined the reformers when they ‘caught up’ with what Waldo had begun many years before them. Due to the resistance of the Roman Church and the Kings of Savoia (who supported the Pope) the Waldensian movement was thwarted in spreading over the rest of the Italian peninsula – although it did take root in some parts (Puglia, Napoli, Sicily). It could be suggested with some truth that the Reformation (as we know it in the rest of mainland Europe) never arrived here in Italy. So for that (and other historical rreasons) Italy is a country which consists of 95% Roman Catholic population. There is no doubt in my heart that within the Roman church (both then and now) God has placed His own people who love and follow Him, however a large part of that 95% have no knowledge of the saving grace of Christ in their lives and little if any certainty of their eternal destiny. For this reason Italy needs people to share the kingdom message with them that their country and their lives will be changed forever.
Their are other reasons which I could suggest for the need for mission workers to come to this country but these will keep for another time and maybe another page!!
As I review this I am struck by a phrase which one of my fellow workers in Italy has begun to use to explain some of the situation in Italy as it encapsulates why most find it dificult to see the need for mission in the home of the Roman church – he says that ‘Italy has been Christianized but nevcer evangelized’ – that about sums it up.
I look forward to your comments on these brief thoughts.