Italy (MNN) – How do Christians make a difference in a culture where the Church has been an institution for over a thousand years?
A Long, Powerful Tradition
Most people in Italy, about 71 percent, identify as Christian. Of that, 93 percent are part of the Roman Catholic Church.
René Breuel is a guest of InterVarsity and the Pastor of Hopera Church, a church he helped plant in Rome. He explains that while Christianity is familiar, many Italians are closed off to hearing about God’s word.
“They feel that the good news is neither good nor news. They feel that they know what Christian faith is. And that it is very powerful and very rich and corrupt. And so many of them don’t want to have anything to do with it.”
This poses a unique challenge. These people have heard about God, but the things they know are not consistent with a message of grace and forgiveness.
Love in Community
Because of their resistance to hearing about faith, many Italians are not drawn in by big events or organized activities.
Breuel explains, “And what we’ve found in our conference really helps, is seeing the Christian love embodied in community. Not so much the intellectual arguments, but just seeing how men and women relate to each other, how relationships can develop, the hope and joy and faith we have, the love. And so they’re really taken by that. Sometimes when they come to our church service they start crying and don’t know why. Sometimes they talk about the energy that is there, but we know that’s God’s presence right?”
People are stunned by the expression of true Christian faith. It is a totally different picture than what they have grown up seeing.
As Italians are drawn in and see the Gospel as truly good news, Breuel says it is like they are rediscovering something or seeing something totally anew. For many, this new sight only comes through the persistent and consistent love of the body of Christ.
Time and Food
Breuel says that this principle is likely true of Italians living in any place. Their heritage is one that is all about community.
“I would say that Italians are very relational and it’s a lot about relationships, a lot about food. Unhurriedly. So not thinking about a quick bite or something, but when we try to do things like more programs things at church didn’t work. A lot of its relationships, being in people’s homes, spending time at the table. People really open then.”
Reach Your Italian Neighbor
The Gospel is meant to be shared. Breuel encourages people to invite their Italian neighbors into their home. Share an unhurried meal. Enjoy conversation and bring your relationship back to the only relationship that matters, a relationship with Christ.
Learn more about Italy and how you can pray for unreached Italians here.