Today we celebrate our one-year anniversary in Salerno. The last year has seemed to have gone by faster than any I can remember. It truly has been a whirlwind.
As I reflect on our time here, I have been reminded of a question we were often asked,”Why Italy?”.
My response two years ago when we started raising support was different than it is today. Today my response is, “Why not Italy?”.
What people are really wanting to know when they ask, “Why Italy? is “Why aren’t you going somewhere that needs the gospel?”i.e. somewhere impoverished or with no written language or in the jungle or AIDS-ridden or with no potable water.
I totally get this train of thought. Those are places we associate with missions: places that are hard to live, places that are “poor” according to American standards. Those are places I thought growing up missionaries went.
However, what I have come to understand is that people are going hell just as fast in Europe as they are in Southeast Asia. People in Europe need the hope and salvation of the Savior just as much as people in South America. What makes us think that just because there are churches in Europe, that the Reformation occurred on this continent, and that some of the theological giants in history have come from here that there is no need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I bet I could ask any of my friends serving as missionaries around the world and, while they could spout out statistics, it would all come down to the fact that the people their hearts are broken for need the hope of Jesus.
God is moving all across the world, and that includes places you might not think need to hear the Gospel. He loves the Italian just as much as He loves the tribal woman in Papua New Guinea. Jesus died for us all…and all need the opportunity to hear that message.
“But Italy is Catholic. They have the Vatican and the Pope. Why do they need missionaries?” you ask.
I ask you, “Does America have preachers? Does America have churches everywhere?” Of course it does! Does that mean everyone has heard the Gospel??? OF COURSE NOT!
Same thing applies to Italy. Just because the Pope is here, doesn’t mean that people have a relationship with Jesus. In fact, most of them could care less about the church, Jesus, the Gospel….They see no need for a Savior.
Our family has been sent to Italians because God has given us a love for them that can only be explained by saying it comes from Him.
I appreciate the question, “Why Italy?” because it gives me the opportunity to talk about a country and a people I love. So, please keep asking.