The music teacher for the Italian Evangelical Bible Institute writes some short devotionals for an Evangelistic calendar distributed nation wide. She, Rosa, says that Matthew 15:8 "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" makes her think of Italy. She writes "Doesn't today's verse remind you of our Italy? In fact, the great majority of Italians would define themselves as Christians... but the great majority of their hearts are far from God. How do I prove this statement? The facts: The bad news on TV, the loss of values, immorality, egoism, etc."

Unfortunately, central Southern Italy seems to be influenced by a unique mix of nominal adherence to Roman Catholicism plus relativistic thinking, materialism and many many animistic elements through which Italians consult and/or seek practical help from unseen powers.

Italy is a long nation, which in recent years has become more multi-cultural with much variety within it. Therefore, one must be careful not to generalise when talking about Italy. As in many other parts of the Mediterranean Basin, rural areas (especially in Central and Southern Italy) tend to be more traditional, more superstitious, and more animistic than the cities which are often quite cosmopolitan.

The general economic crisis is quite heavily felt across the nation.

Many women, after having accompanied the children to school first thing in the morning, stop at the bar with friends for a continental breakfast. The older men (at the bar) play cards and talk about soccer and politics. When the weather is good, the people walk the streets till late in the evening, walking on the big stone pavement from the time of the Romans and on which the apostle Paul would have walked on his way to Rome.

How is God at work in Italy?

"God continues to use young men from our local church to reach out to other young men who are musicians and take them to the young people's Bible study led by one of our elders, Nicola B".

"We have been very much encouraged by those who receive our bi-monthly, Il Traguardo. Even though it's directed to young people, it's read by believers of all ages and fundamentalist denominations in Italy and abroad.

Recently two women came to faith and are showing great enthusiasm in Bible study. Others are evangelised by means of personal encounters in the main square, while women from the church sometimes have breakfast at the bar and meet other people.

Together with some other believers we have began a special prayer meeting for some urgent needs in the church for God's intervention, where we sense God's presence."

Are there any things about this country which would surprise or shock a Kiwi?

Considering the fact that Italy is part of the so-called G8 nations, the amount of corruption and the number for middle-men/mediators present in every sector of life which complicate bureaucracy here and render all aspects of life very expensive would certainly surprise most Kiwis.

"The local market (MOF), one of the biggest in Europe, offers work to many distributing fruit and vegetables to all of Italy and abroad. It's known to be infiltrated by the Mafia who hide large quantities of drugs amongst the fruit and vegetables in the big fridge trucks that come especially from Spain. The previous city administration was also Mafia infiltrated. Much Mafia property has been confiscated from the local boss. By means of the witness of his housemaid, a believer, he received some of our books that he read in prison."  Warwick & Osvalda Malcolm.

"Italy, just like NZ, is full of beautiful landscapes and much variety. The Italians' ability to adapt to difficult circumstances and to stick together as extended families in spite of many odds would be an example of Biblical values which are admirable." Ron Diprose

"One of the beauty spots of the Fondi culture in Italy is the sector of the city that in centuries past was dedicated to the housing of Jews. About a quarter of the old city was inhabited by Jews so that when the Pope was considered to be "good" they would go to Rome for their business and when he was not considered to be good they would come to Fondi, the first city outside the Vatican State and where there was a good report between Catholics and Jews." Warwick & Osvalda Malcolm

Tags: Europe | Italy | Ron | Warwick & Osvalda

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