Italy (MNN) — When people think Italy, they picture vast vineyards, houses built on streets of water, ancient ruins of Rome, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Jonathan Shibley of Global Advance assures us that there is one thing most people don’t consider when they think about Italy: faith.
He says, “Less than 1% of people in Italy have a true relationship with Jesus Christ. And we have connected with a young emerging group of next-generation Christian leaders that are passionate for God, that want to see their nation arise again with the Gospel and the message of Christ.”
This was done at the first Marketplace Leader’s Conference that Global Advance hosted in Italy late last month. Shibley explains, “Most of these leaders are actually in business–have businesses of their own [or] work for larger companies, and they want to see their work as a form of worship and as a witness of the light of Christ in the marketplace.”
Shibley is confident that the conference had a big impact. For instance, many of the individuals who gathered there will meet up again for a worship event that will discuss with various leaders in Italy (such as youth pastors) how to integrate their faith into the vocations of business, entertainment, arts, education, and government.
Shibley was also encouraged by affirming words of some of the Italians: “Several of them came to me and just said, ‘Wow I see my work in a completely different light now.'”
Global Advance desires to increase their presence in Europe in a supportive role, and they are just about to have their third Marketplace Initiative in Germany. “Several years ago. the Lord really put it on our heart to begin to look at Europe in a different light. We’ve been going all over the world and developing nations, and we continue to do that. But when you look at Europe as a whole, it’s a very dark area in regards to the people that are really alive in Christ and in the faith.”
The numbers of leaders that want to impact this region are encouraging: “We see a new day for the Church in Italy, and we want to be a junior partner to encourage them in what God is doing,” affirms Shibley.
As with any place that needs the Light of Christ, there are challenges and prayer needs. That is where you can step in and help. “We really want to just pray that God will encourage His people there in Italy. [Religion] is present, but true relationship with God is lacking with so many people and their understanding of what real relationship with Christ looks like.”
The vision that Global Advance has for Italy is the vision that all Christians should be longing to practice in a daily setting. That is: supporting our brothers and sisters in their walk of faith while sharing the Gospel with others. “We want to come alongside these young leaders that are standing in the gap for their nation, that have vision to see a new generation of passionate Christ followers rise up in Italy.”
Shibley asks that you pray for the Kingdom to advance in Italy.