From antiquity until the late 16th century, Italy was considered the hub of Western culture, the starting point of worldwide phenomena such as the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, Humanism and the Renaissance. Italian painters, sculptors, composers, and architects also dominated the Baroque movement that began near the end of the Renaissance and ended in the 1700s. Both the internal and external facets of Western culture were born on the Italian peninsula, whether one looks at the history of the Christian faith, civil institutions (such as the Senate), education, philosophy, law, art, science, or social customs and culture.
Given the presence of the Catholic Church in Italy one would think that Italy does not need to hear the Gospel message. 80% of Italians consider themselves Christians. However, two-thirds do not go to church or follow the church’s teachings after age 12. Many have turned away from the church completely and chosen to follow other paths such as communism, new age or Islam. Recent statistics show that only 1.1% of Italians are born again and live a life of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Although missionaries and mission agencies have worked in Italy for more than 40 years, TEAM did not have any ministry in Italy until 1981. In 1979 a team of 3 staff visited Italy and surveyed the country to determine which area had the greatest need for church planting personnel. As a result, in 1980 TEAM's board of directors gave a green light and the first couple, Murray and Florence Carter were sent to a city called Forli', in the north-central part of Italy to establish the starting point of TEAM's church planting effort. Other missionaries soon followed.
A radio station called Radio Luce ("Radio Light") was launched in Forli' and as a result a church was begun there and in it's next door neighbor, Faenza. TEAM expanded further as more personnel arrived and a church was started in Bologna. Later a church was added in Ravenna, on the Adriatic coast. After a merger in 1994 with Bible Christian Union, churches were started in Mestre, Pordenone, Udine, and Trieste. At present two couples are working with a Brethren assembly in Citta' di Castello to plant a church in a small city called Umbertide.
TEAM is using innovative methods to build bridges of redemptive relationships with Italians, such as English classes, children's park outreaches, music and sports evangelism.
TEAM-Italy exists to establish viable, Biblically sound, interdependent, reproducing churches within the regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria that will carry the gospel throughout Italy and to the world.
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