In recent history, independent, fundamental Baptists have been few and far between in Italy. Differing types of Baptist missionaries have been starting churches in Italy since the mid- to late 1800s. However, independent, fundamental Baptists have only been starting churches since the mid- to late 1900s. There are two types of IFB churches in Italy. There are missionary-led churches, and there are churches whose pastor is a foreigner. (Often these churches have services in foreign languages other than Italian; some of them have tent-making pastors.) At this point, I am not aware of a single IFB church in Italy that has a native Italian pastor who is not a missionary. (We do have a few Italian citizens and even some Italian-born missionaries.) If all of the missionaries were to leave Italy today, there might be one or two IFB churches whose services are in Italian that would survive. That is some sad and unfortunate data. However, I believe that all of that is going to be changing soon.
Working through some online resources from American churches, the Lord has brought a native Italian couple, Bro. Fausto D’Amelio and his wife, out of another denomination in Italy. He was taking Bible courses through a Texas Baptist church, which eventually put him in contact with a missionary in Italy. Missionaries in Emilia-Romagna, Bro. Brandon Cook and his family, have taken the responsibility of teaching and training Bro. D’Amelio and his wife. Over the last several years, we, too, have gotten to know and love the D’Amelio family. In early March, I was privileged to be invited to be a part of his ordination council. Bro. D’Amelio has preached a couple times for our church in Milano, and he has always been well received and appreciated.
The church in Emilia-Romagna is sending them out to start a church in southern Italy in the town of Foggia. This is a wonderful opportunity for the lasting testimony of IFB churches in Italy, as well as for the Gospel to spread more effectively. We believe that there are many benefits to a native Italian pastor reaching his countrymen. At this point, he and his sending church have decided that they are going to try to raise temporary support for the initial startup of the church. Our church in Milano is dedicated to supporting the effort, and, while we hope that most of the finances will come from Europe, if you are interested in being a part of this great occasion, please contact his sending-church pastor, Brandon Cook, or you can contact us for further information.
Our family all had COVID at the end of April. Praise the Lord that we are all better, with just a few lingering effects. We have had a few visitors in church, as well as a few people who have had to find a church closer to their homes. Two ladies who are expecting babies were traveling over an hour each way, which began to be quite difficult for them. Obviously, we don’t feel like an hour-and-a-half drive makes the church really “local”; but, unfortunately, there are just so few IFB churches in Italy. Lord willing, that will change soon. One document for our citizenship was rejected. This means we have to file some paperwork with the state of New York to get a certified long-form birth certificate. This is not an easy process, but we believe that the Lord will provide the document we need in time.
Missionaries to the people of Italy,
Christopher, Amy, William, AnnMarie, and Charlotte Yetzer