The Gospel spreading in Sicily Italy
THE GOSPEL SPREADING IN SICILY, ITALY
We were present in Santa Elisabetta for the dedication of their new premises and have seen many Christians and also a good attendance of non-Christians
To write an article, especially in the summer season of 2001 in which the temperature reaches 35 degrees, is an enterprise, particularly if you think that at the same time many people are on the beaches to enjoy the fresh air of the Mediterranean!
When the temperature is very high people express their suffering by saying: ‘The heat is killing me’. Yes, it is possible to die in the hot season, especially those who have weak hearts. But in winter too, when the cold is severe, people say, ‘I’m freezing to death’. Once again the word death is used inopportunely, even if the cold weather has brought death to several sick people. But what kind of thing is death for unconverted people? A tragic event! Recently I had some experience of this with the death of my mother, aged 95 years.
In the face of this tragic event people say, ‘That’s life’. What this expression means is unknown. It is just an expression! The ignorance of the people around us is like that of the Greek people in the Apostles’ time. And every day we touch this kind of spiritual ignorance. As I said before, my mother died in June and we were in Ragusa for the funeral service. As first born, I was obliged to be in the front line with my brother and my two sisters, and for the first time since my conversion I entered the Catholic Church in my home town. The priest performed the mass and I stayed sitting all the time. The contradiction of the Catholic Church was in front of me in the Word and in the action of the priest. And once again the glorious Gospel reminded me of the truth of the Bible. In fact, in the Catholic Church you will find all the doctrines, and their respective opposites.
The Mediatorship of Jesus Christ
One of the main biblical doctrines unknown in the Catholic Church is that of the Mediatorship of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all’ (1 Timothy 2:5-6). So in the Bible we see that Jesus is not only our Saviour but also our Mediator. For Roman Catholics there is the Church as Mediator, the Saints, especially Mary, and all the saints proclaimed by the Pope. Truly the Catholic religion is a very pagan system that leaves people in ignorance, in error and in the presumption of being in the right. When we speak to some Catholics one of our first arguments is the mediatorship of Jesus Christ. For us as biblical Christians, it is a necessity to preach the right doctrine of the Bible and Jesus Christ who
says: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ – not just existence in this world, but the true life in God. And Paul says: ‘For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me, if I do not preach the gospel!’
The Gospel Must be Preached
The gospel must be preached if we desire to see the defeat of error and souls saved. During my ministry the Lord has given us several means to preach the Gospel – the church, Radio Logos, the literature work – and through these means we have seen souls saved and the Lord’s work established, but all for God’s glory. We rejoice in the fact that the promises of God are sure and faithful. ‘Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days’ (Ecclesiastes 11:1). We have experienced this promise many times. In fact, through our radio ministry we have seen souls saved in several towns in Sicily. Just recently we discovered some Christians saved through this ministry in the Santa Elisabetta Church. As Reformed Christians we know, of course, that the Lord is pleased to use different instruments to preach the glorious Gospel and we have to look not to the means, but to our Lord who has appointed us to do his work.
The Progress of the Work in Sicily
For some years in our church we have had a ministry on video cassette, taping all our services, and we have seen the blessing of the Lord on this. Quite a lot of these video cassettes are requested not just in our church, but also by lonely Christians in our Province, and throughout Sicily. Just recently we had a request from the North of Italy. We trust that this ministry will be a blessing to isolated Christians. They are able to listen to the message of the Word and to see God’s people.
Fellowship with a church of the same mind continues to attract more churches. Santa Elisabetta is one of these. The Pastor, Vito Tangorra, a former Pentecostal pastor from the Assemblies of God, has preached the Reformed doctrines in his Church of more than 50 believers. The Lord has been pleased to give to this pastor a blessed ministry and the congregation is growing. Just recently they have purchased a lovely building for the church meetings and for the pastor’s accommodation. Santa Elisabetta is a small town of 2,500 inhabitants, not far from Ribera. So the fellowship between these two churches is becoming very close. Vito is willing to preach in the Ribera Church during my absence. We were present in Santa Elisabetta for the dedication of their new premises and have seen many Christians and also a good attendance of non-Christians. The Lord Mayor of the town was among them. Some weeks later we were there for a special day that we call ‘Agape’, and during that meeting six people were baptised.
Another pastor and his church have accepted the Reformed doctrine and want to have fellowship with us. They are in Randazzo (75km from Catania). Randazzo is a medieval town, near the volcano Etna, but it was not submerged by lava.
The work seems to be growing in the province of Messina too, and we have news of a Pentecostal Church where the pastor is becoming convinced of the Reformed doctrine. We hope to go there with Vito in November. The Church in Puglia continues to grow in grace and in knowledge. I was privileged to go to San Giovanni on two occasions; for Easter, to conduct a series on the life of Joseph, then again in May for evangelistic meetings in the church, together with Russ and Sara Murphy from Lubbock Baptist Church, Texas.
For pastors of the same mind, that the clear sound of the gospel will be preached in all these churches; for the growth of the believers and the fellowship between all these churches; for the preaching of the Gospel through the various means; the ministry through the video cassettes, and the faithful listeners.
We thank you all for your support and for your attention to our report. God bless you richly.
Vision of Europe, October – December 2001, European Missionary Fellowship, ‘Guessens’, 6 Codicote Road, Welwyn, AL6 9NB
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