Gruppo Cristiano of Parma have been planning something like this for almost four years. It has always been their vision to raise up new leadership and extend the church’s kingdom influence into other regions. They have done this in two ways. First, they set out to do what no evangelical churches here in Italy ever think to do.
From the very beginning, ACCI members, Pastor Aldo and Mariela Cerasino along with the Director of Progetto Archippo, Francesco Abortivi (ACCI) determined to work toward Christian reconciliation. Today, Gruppo Cristiano has brought together ten other area congregations. Progetto Archippo (the ACCI training school) has connected fifteen mission agencies serving in Italy and on Saturday I will have people in my evangelism class from Milano and as far away as Brescia.
Sunday evening seven of us loaded into Aldo’s car and with a huge, nearly tree sized plant between my legs, drove the twenty or more kilometers to the next city on our west, Fidenza. After a short parade of three blocks to the church, we met a crowd waiting for the official cutting of the ribbon.
The room was crowded with people standing against the wall. The night was warm so the temperature on the platform was hot enough that both Francesco (my translator) and I had to remove our sweaters about midway into the message.
It was a very encouraging and positive night. If any denomination had any sense at all they would come to this church and say, “Look, you don’t have to belly up to the bar and become a full-member, but let us come along side of you and provide whatever resources we can muster on your behalf.” By doing so, they would win favor and have a significant footprint in northern Italy. Most denominations haven’t enough savvy to understand the power of partnerships. Unless they initiate and doctrinally dominate a church, they will not make the investment of time and money. As it is, Pastor Cerasino and Archippo Director, Francesco take no money and pay out of pocket for much of the kingdom extension that goes on. A case in point, Gruppo Cristiano financed the new church in Fidenza while short of funds for their own church in Parma. This is faith at its best.