Milan, Italy, is home to amazing architecture, music, fancy shops, fashion, and everything that can make your empty heart feel full. At least that’s what the people who live here would like to think. Italy is also home to more than 60 million people, and there is only one Adventist for every 6,900 people. The Adventist Church has had a difficult time growing here.
“We have a very secularized society, says Mario Brito, Adventist Mission director for this part of Europe, and it affects the society and the Church. It’s not easy to share the gospel with people who think they don’t need God, don’t need religion.”
Just outside of Milan is the area of Bergamo. Here a Seventh-day Adventist church meets each Sabbath. Several years ago the church was small and was not growing. Church leaders decided to try establishing small groups that would use prayer as their outreach to the community. The members organized into small groups that would meet several times a week in members’ homes. They studied the Bible for a deeper understanding of Jesus and His love for them. At the same time they prayed that God would bring people to them so they could share their faith. For several months this continued, and then people from outside the church started attending the small groups. These new arrivals were co-workers and mutual friends who wanted to find a deeper meaning to their lives. Slowly the small church started to grow. Sabbath School became a time of deep spiritual study and prayer. The last 15 minutes of Sabbath School were dedicated to praying together in the small groups.
Soon the church more than doubled in size and outgrew its small building. Today there are 11 lay leaders at the church and each one is in charge of a small group. There is even talk of starting a church plant in another nearby community to alleviate the crowded church each Sabbath.
“In the mission of the church, the gospel hasn’t completed its mission until in the church, between the members, and the church in its totality has accepted the character of Christ, says Roberto, one of the lay leaders. “In such a way we will meet one time per week; after we can meet two times per week. Sometimes people meet three, four, five times per week. We eat together; we enjoy together; we sing together, and also we weep together.”
Your prayerful support of the mission offering helps provide resources to small churches like Bergamo as they strive to reflect the character of Christ and bring the members of their community to Jesus.
Church leaders realized that the gospel needed to be translated, familiarized, and contextualized and that ministers, like Paul, had to become all things to all men so that they could by all means save some.
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