I just returned from a mission trip with five other pastors on a trip to Belluno, Northern Italy. It was a great trip! Hopefully, this photo blog will give you some sense of our trip. Here are the six of us on a plane in St. Louis ready to depart:
There was a lot of coffee, pizza, and pasta!
We got to see plenty of historic and scenic sites. Like Venice…
and the beautiful countryside (the Alps!). The next three pictures were taken from the community of Agordo at which we did some prayer walking.
A definite highlight of the week was meeting the pastor and congregation of an evangelical church in Belluno.
We enjoyed taking the pastor and his wife to lunch on Sunday and they had us in their home on Monday night! One interesting aspect of this trip is that we didn’t have a interpreter! We did much of our communication with google translate! It was also a joy to share some books with the pastor and the church.
I do need to backtrack for just a moment. We were greeted, by an International Mission Board missionary. Charlie was so helpful in orienting us to culture and preparing us for the work. He spend several days with us, introduced us to our partner pastor and then left us. He left us! LOL.
One day Charlie gave me and another team member a speech and made us promise that we would tell the rest of the team. He described the religious practices of Northern Italy. Less than 3% in Northern Italy attend Mass. Less than 0.5% consider themselves evangelical. Let’s put that into perspective. Belluno, which is a town of 40,000, is just a little larger than Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Based on the fact that 0.5% of the population of Belluno consider themselves evangelical, there are less than 200 people in the city of Belluno who consider themselves evangelical. Wow. In a town larger than Cape Girardeau, there are less than 200 evangelicals. Then Charlie pointed to a plaque on a building:
It’s hard to read. The colorful crest in the middle is for the community of Belluno. Then there are two below that one, for the province (county) of Belluno (on the left), and the region (state) of Veneto (on the right). There are 20 regions and 119 provinces. Charlie is going to be relocated soon. He said, “Forget Italy. Forget Veneto. Catch a vision for reaching the province of Belluno starting in the city of Belluno.” There are approximately half of the 119 provinces that have been partnered with a church/association. We are the only ones who have agreed to work in Belluno (as far as we know). We are the missionaries to Belluno. There’s no other team. We’re it. Here’s some more pictures of “our town and province.”
Lord willing, this group of pastors will lead four teams during the months of May-October, in 2018 (I will go on only one of these teams). It will be challenging work. It will require prayer and creativity to engage the culture. We hope to take music groups, artists, sports teams, and teams to lead movie/worldview conversations in coffee shops. If you are interested in going, please let me know. Please, please pray. God has to break through a rich culture of indifference to the Gospel.
Grateful for this opportunity to encourage a faithful church and extend the Gospel with them to Northern Italy.
For the Kingdom!