Dutch pastor, Hans Borghuis reports that Evangelical Christianity in Italy is on on the rise as the Gospel breaks down religious barriers. Italy is predominantly Roman Catholic, with many only attending church due to tradition, but this is changing, especially in the city of Verbania, Pastor Borghuis writes…
Making Jesus visible in Italy
We know Italy as a fantastic holiday destination and that is not without good reason. At the time of writing, I’ve been in Italy for several weeks, which is always an enormous privilege. There’s so much to say about the country… of course it is known for delicious food, friendly people, great weather and beautiful scenery. However, what I find most important is the growth of Evangelical Christianity in Italy.
Nearly 90% of the Italian population is part of the Catholic Church and about a third of this are more or less active members. A quarter of Italians regularly attend a Catholic service, but much is related to tradition. In addition, there are superstitions. Many Italians do not yet know the message of Jesus and the good news of the gospel.
Sadly less than 1.5% of Italians are Evangelical Christians. This makes the position of the few Evangelical churches out there very important. I have been working intensively with the church of Verbania on the beautiful Lago Maggiore for about seven years now. The pastors of this church have become good friends.
The church is well known throughout the region and churchgoers sometimes drive an hour or more to attend the Sunday service. Often they are the only Christian in their environment and sometimes even the only Christian in their family. Nor is it exceptional that the youth of the Church are the only active Christian in a school of 700 students.
Besides native Italians, refugees and migrants also find their way to church. In addition to Sunday services, the congregation meets at home during the week in small groups. They regularly pray together in a disciplined manner at 7 o’clock in the morning for a certain period of time. They invite others and look for ways to spread the Gospel, to be relevant to society.
People who need help are helped as much as possible. One Sunday evening we went with the pastors to pick up leftover bread from a bakery to pass these on to families in need. Although they themselves hardly have a fixed income as pastors, they are always ready to meet the needs of others. Their house is always open and it is not unusual when their house is full of guests, like a number of Ukrainian refugees in recent days.
The church currently doesn’t have its own building. A space is rented on Sunday mornings, but this is expensive and doesn’t allow for weekday activities. Recently the opportunity arose to buy a plot of land on which to build. This opportunity was seized with both hands, a step in faith. This will provide a much needed home base.
Our desire is to be a beacon of light and hope even more now we will have a home base, a place where Sunday meetings can be held and where young and old can also meet during the week. But also a place to provide a home for people in need.
The church of Verbania is located in a beautiful place, but that doesn’t make it perfect. I could mention a number of points that are less beautiful. This church is no different to any other. Being a Christian, following Jesus may cost something. But while it is sometimes far from easy, this church is full of life, full of joy, full of passion. A place to make Jesus visible to Italians who don’t know Him yet.
Pray for Evangelical Christianity in Italy
Pray for the Evangelical Church in Italy. Thinking of a holiday to the country? Consider visiting the church of Verbania where a few people are having a huge impact. Join them in this great responsibility to make Jesus visible in this great country. For more info see Han’s bio below or email him at email@example.com.