Last month, my wife and I helped lead a group of Missouri Baptist pastors and mission leaders to northeast Italy where we are beginning strategic partnership as a convention. This is part 2 of 5 in a series on the different cities and regions in Northeast Italy that we visited. Catch part 1 here. Won’t you pray about how you and your church can help take the gospel to the lost in northeast Italy?
Brett and his wife Melissa have been in Verona, Italy for a relatively short time. Yet the unique skill set that God has given to Brett has allowed them to interact with (literally) thousands of Veronese youth. His ability to gather people together for socializing will carry him far as he and his family seek to bring the gospel to Verona. Today though, I want to tell you about the business Brett has developed along with his wife and a few key Italian connections.
We arrived in Verona (a city of 265,000 people) on our third day and Brett took us to the office where his non-profit is housed. I felt like a fish out of water ascending with a group of Americans into this place that had a very start-up-esque feel to it. Various businesses shared the space and I saw groups of young Italians working hard at their careers while our group came in to meet one of Brett’s Italian co-workers.
During our time at the shared work space and at Brett’s local Italian church, he shared with us his vision for connecting Italian youth with American host families. The idea is that Italian youth can experience daily life with a Christ following family in the states so that the gospel may be imparted to a person who may not ever get to hear it back home in Italy. As these youth come back to Italy after their exchange, Brett and his wife (and others) hope to continue the gospel centered discussions with the youth who showed interest in learning more. While the program is fairly new, Brett has a long term vision that involves multiple age levels, and various programs both in Italy and here in the US. The end goal of this vision is to get the gospel into the hands of Italians.
As I’ve already shared, Italy is a very dark place spiritually. Verona is no different. There are about 80 Catholic churches in Verona that are empty. Some have been converted to banks, others stand empty while others are open to the public as museums. Brett and Melissa attend the only non-charismatic evangelical church in the entire city. If there is only one gospel centered church in a city of 265,000, what are the chances of the next generation hearing the Good News? This is what drives the purpose behind Brett’s non-profit.
Could God be calling your church to partner in Verona? Perhaps you sense a calling to host Italian students in your home-or better yet, get a group of people in your church who will volunteer to take part in this amazing mission opportunity right in your own home. Contact Rick Hedger at the Missouri Baptist Convention if you’re interested in learning more about hosting Italian students in your home, or getting more information about the work in Verona.
This post was written by Julie Masson, the Director of Missional Engagement at Emmaus Church in Kansas City. Julie is a blogger and social media strategist who is passionate about the nations hearing the gospel. She and her husband spent 2 years in Madrid, Spain on a N. African church planting team. You can follow Julie on Twitter at @juliermasson