Italy (MNN) — Seismologists are reportedly unconvinced that aftershocks are over from the 6.0 magnitude earthquake which struck Finale Emilia, Italy on Sunday morning.
From Bologna, Italy, TEAM church planter Steve Thompson says reports show about 4,900 people are currently living out of their homes in tents or in cars. At least seven people have been pronounced dead from earthquake damages, with over 50 wounded.
Historical buildings toppled to the ground, including three churches and a castle, as well as a clock tower built in 1213, according to The Guardian.
The earthquake might be tolerable if it were not for Italy's current trifecta of disasters.
A bomb tore through a vocational school just one day before the quake, killing one girl instantly and wounding others.
These two tragedies have occurred during a third ongoing crisis: economic turmoil.
The bombing shook people awake to a reality that until now has been mainly in "other" nations. Thompson says Italians have been particularly affected by the bomb incident, which has only added to the hopelessness of the economic and earthquake situations.
In this current climate, says Thompson, "People who don't have a strong faith in God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, just are overtaken by fear."
And those "who don't have a strong faith in God" are most fearful. According to the Joshua Project, Italy is composed of only 1.1% evangelicals.
Thus, in the next few weeks and months, Thompson and his wife will be speaking with people about the tragedies and sharing the peace that's found in Christ. Thompson says although Bologna is a good 20 miles from the quake's epicenter, people remain hopeless and disturbed by the nation's crises, and many are looking for answers.
"I think the Italians are looking for something that can really give them some hope. Sadly, their traditional religion doesn't offer them a lot of hope. So that's a big need right now: telling people that Jesus loves them, that God is in control, and that He's moving this world forward in His own plan," Thompson explains.
With such a small population of true believers in their nation, some Italians are unwilling to hear the message of Christ. But Thompson says many others are overcome when they hear the Good News about a relationship with Christ, almost thinking it too good to be true. In the midst of chaos, hearts may be more open.
In a nation steeped in church history, most people know about Jesus to some degree, but Thompson says one of the biggest prayer requests in coming days is that they will actually seek Him through His Word.
"For centuries, really, people have not been advised to read the Bible. And it's taken its toll on peoples' lives," says Thompson. Especially since Italy's small believing population will not be able to reach every person, pray that Italians would open the Word of God in coming weeks and be transformed by its Truth.
To learn more about The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), click here.