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Italian Reformed Evangelical Church Association

Category Articles
Date June 3, 2003

Conscious of the sovereignty of our Lord, that he is also the Lord of the harvest, we go on praying and preaching the good news of the Gospel. We are sure that the Lord will establish his work as in the past, and in spite of the main difficulties of this century, the Lord will prevail according to his promises.

by Pietro Lorefice

For a long time Italy has been in the forefront of nations receiving the Gospel message. The Gospels and the book of the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the history of the coming of the Son of God, his preaching and the end of his life as a sacrifice for the sin of his people. At the time the Roman Empire dominated Europe, Africa and part of Asia; it was the tool to carry out the plans of God in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, in his life and also in his death. During that time the Roman Empire was extending its dominion and Palestine was part of that. The book of the Acts of the Apostles contains the beginning of the preaching to other nations in the house of Cornelius, one who belonged to the governing Italian army. Remember the Roman army was in Palestine and subsequently Paul had a great desire from the Holy Spirit to go to Rome (postponed in the will of God), and it was to the first Christians in that city that Paul addressed one of his most substantial letters. In the great opening up of the church in Jerusalem a few years after the ascension of the Lord Jesus and Pentecost, the first missionary trip was served by a Roman road. Christian history tells us of the several hundred Christians in Sicily during the first century, and several martyrs during the Diocletian Empire. The Lord’s work moved in a mysterious way. The Lord tells us that his kingdom is like the leaven and this is still so.

Reformation Times

The second persecution ordered by the Inquisition provoked more than a thousand Christians, and the Inquisitors were very close to the Spanish Tribunal, but here in Sicily the Inquisition was even more cruel. Just recently a substantial book was published, written by a Professor from Palermo University. Its title ‘The Inquisition in Sicily’ attracted our attention. The book is very informative about God’s work in Sicily. It gives details of various Christians persecuted in Sicily and in our area alone a hundred Christians were martyred. I suppose that those witnesses prayed for the spreading of the Lord’s work in our region. The Reformation attracted quite a lot of priests and nuns. They were judged by the Inquisition, but they left some good books describing their hope.

Conscious of the sovereignty of our Lord, that he is also the Lord of the harvest, we go on praying and preaching the good news of the Gospel. We are sure that the Lord will establish his work as in the past, and in spite of the main difficulties of this century, the Lord will prevail according to his promises.

The Leaven

One of the most serious ‘shows’ in our town is a funeral service. The ceremony attracts quite a lot of people. First, the family of the deceased usually announce the funeral service by a poster placed on every corner of the town, giving the time of the funeral service. Since our arrival in this region we started to establish some rules in the church. One of our customs was (and is) that for our funeral services we put a Bible verse on the poster announcing the death of a Christian person. Now the Roman Catholic Church is copying us in this. They try to find some relevant Bible verse. However, we had the privilege of starting this custom.

In the past Radio Logos was the means of giving the many listeners the right teaching of the glorious gospel. After many years we find people who remember with gratitude all that teaching.

Since last year we have received an invitation from the local paper to publish some articles in their paper. Every month we give them a letter with the subjects that we will be covering during the month. They are willing to give attention to our church. The fact is that Giuseppe Farruggia, one of our members who was baptized just last November, is on the committee of this paper. Now the local papers are willing to publish articles written by us. But the Roman Catholic Church is upset. Their reaction is evident in almost every magazine. Just recently this paper gave some room to the article of a priest. That article was very polemical and full of historical mistakes. So the director suggested that I write another article in answer. I was amazed to see that one of the national papers also gave attention to all this work.

The Association ACERI

The past year was full of activity in the Lord’s work. First, the official recognition of ACERI, or for you IRECA (Italian Reformed Evangelical Church Association). This Association has attracted several churches of the same mind from the North to the South of Italy. Every month we have a committee meeting in some region of Italy, a general assembly once per year, and a youth rally twice per year. This started just last October for the anniversary of the Reformation.

From 31 October to 3 November we gathered as ACERI in Siculiana; a beach 30 km from Ribera providing the ideal setting for the first conference. The premises belong to a Catholic organisation. The rooms were very comfortable, the beach just outside, a very nice conference hall and very good food. The theme was: "Calvin, his life". Antonio De Noia and Renato Giuliani, a pastor from Rome, spoke on this subject. Altogether we were about 40 attending, from the Santa Elisabetta Church and also from Peschici and Ribera. On the Sunday we held a baptismal service, when Giuseppe Farruggia from the Ribera Church gave his testimony through baptism. We gathered on the beach just beside the premises. The problem was the cold water in the sea, but we assure you that the beach in November is not cold. Now we are very pleased, Giuseppe is growing in grace.

Projects for the Future

As ACERI, the Lord gave us the possibility to have a website. In one month just under a thousand visited our website. Every month we try to enrich the various pages with new things. The pages contain the confession of faith, sermons by Spurgeon and Ryle, and sermons by Antonio De Noia, Vito Tangorra and myself. The contacts are mainly from the Waldensian Church. We are amazed by the many Christians in that Church. We have taped 200 sermons from our churches in video cassettes and we will try to put them on our website. We see that the work is going on, and we feel that the Lord will do great things for Sicily and for Italy "The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad" (Psalm 126:3).

Pietro Lorefice, Sicily, Italy

Vision of Europe, European Missionary Fellowship, 6 Codicote Road, Welwyn, AL6 9NB

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