The New Church Facility
Gruppo Cristiano Latino Americano, Parma, Italy
This may not seem like much to you but for us it is an incredible miracle. About seven years a go we began this church in a small room on the first floor of an apartment building. I was there during the first weeks when seventeen people, some seated (women and children) while most stood around the walls. We had no instruments to speak of so Mariela (Pastor Aldo’s wife) stood and clapped her hands to time as we attempted sing. They had a synthesizer that someone had donated but had no one could play it and a screen that they always pulled down but no overhead projector. It was all rather sad and comical if one thinks about it but we were all filled with faith and courage. By contrast, today we have a first rate worship band with two pianists, drums, guitars and a platform team of seven. The worship we have would compare to any church anywhere.
You may or may not know that there is an anti-Evangelical spirit in Italy. Almost all officials agencies – the one’s that grant licences – protect the Roman Church from what they call “Settes” (or cults). Once they hear what the use will be, those with available property for rent will clearly say, “I do not rent to Evangelicals or “setts.” Even though most people are not loyal to the Catholic church and rarely attend they continue to protect it as a cultural ikon. In fact, to be Italian is to be baptized Catholic. If one becomes a “Christian” in the biblical sense of the word, they have lost their “Italianess” so to speak. Evangelical faith is for foreigners, the poor immigrants and is considered a cult right along side of The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. There is no distinction made at all.
Therefore, to have located and obtained a decent, affordable, spacious, clean and safe place to meet borders on the miraculous. Here after just seven years a community of around two hundred and fifty people gather sometimes as often as six times a week to worship the Lord, pray, celebrate or study. For the last seven years they have been vagabonds traveling from one place to another and on a number of occasions meeting in the street on Sunday morning. Here we have a place to grow even more with a large hall that will seat 300 people, and our own, off street parking lot (a premium in Italy) with no one below us at night or on Sundays. We have three other large rooms for meetings, children and nursery as well. They nicest thing of all are real bathrooms, one for men and one for women. This does not come cheap but did come at half of what it normally should so we see it all as a provision of the Lord.