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WEEK OF PRAYER: Bringing the Gospel to Italy

IMB missionary Shannon Worthy tells the Easter story to a group of classmates of Ben and Alessia Worthy. (IMB photo)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Nov. 30-Dec. 6, focusing on Revelation 7:9 (“I saw a great multitude from every nation and all tribes ….”) The theme undergirds the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The offering, in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches, supports international workers in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at IMB.org/lmco, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year’s goal is $175 million.

The Worthy family recognizes the importance of investing in relationships in the Italian culture. For more than 17 years, Charlie and Shannon Worthy have invested their lives and ministry in Italy as IMB missionaries.

They describe the spiritual climate of Italy as ambivalent. Italians are warm, loving and open people; however, they don’t know they need a Savior. Evangelical Christians in Italy number roughly 1 percent. Most Italians are nominal Catholics at best.

By immersing themselves fully in Italian culture, the Worthy family has made deep personal connections. As they live life as an American-Italian family in Italy, the Worthys are pushing back the darkness and bringing the hope of the Gospel to those who don’t yet know Jesus.

As church planters, the Worthys’ work bridges the two worlds of local Italian pastors and U.S. churches. Whether leading a group of students, a group of Baptist state convention executives or a church group, the Worthys strategically place these partnering groups in areas of Italy where the church does not exist.

Finding opportunities for volunteers to serve through local partners is key to developing long-term relationships. Charlie Worthy said they have seen much fruit through these partnerships.

“Partnering alongside nationals is the bedrock of our ministry here,” he said. “Coming alongside these fellow laborers will get the Gospel to those who need to hear it faster than if we went at it alone.

“These local believers are the ones who will be here long after we’re gone. The Lord has called us to be a guest in their home. Partnering with them will always be the best method to plant churches and disciple believers.”

The Worthys’ connection to Southern Baptists in the U.S. as well as their deep understanding of Italian culture enable them to utilize both partnerships in advancing the Gospel.

“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is critical to what we do,” Charlie Worthy said. “The offering supports us so we can focus on the local work here in Italy and not have to be encumbered with consistently raising funds back in the United States. The LMCO allows us to have a house to live in, a car to drive, and our healthcare provided so that we can concentrate on the ministry and our local partners.

“We are grateful for Southern Baptists, and we are grateful and honored to be Southern Baptists.”

PRAY that the Worthys will continue to build strong relationships in Italy.

PRAY that many Italians will come to faith in Christ as a result of the Worthys’ witness.

PRAY that new Italian believers will gather into churches to reach the people of Italy with the Gospel.

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  • IMB Staff