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A young church in Pisa is being planted by a local fellowship and other partnerships, including OM. It began with the group meeting every two weeks in the house of the church plant leader and included dinner: a key element in Italian culture! This was followed by a discussion on a Bible passage, currently from the Gospel of Mark, accompanied by moments of laughter, exchange, sharing and encouragement. For it is encouraging to see people come together, to see how God is operating in others’ lives, and to collaborate in the expansion of God’s kingdom through the multiplication of the church. This is taking place both through the church plant’s foundation and the subsequent growth in the mother church.
“Tonight, we had the first meeting of the group in Pisa: an incredible journey, which has brought us to this point. Incredible because so many things had to fall into place, so we could have that meeting. The mother church, a small church, had to agree to have a church plant and see some valuable members leave; we needed a core team to commit to the idea, [and] we went through months of preparation, discussions, meetings, sometimes tension. But we got there!
“That first meeting was a time to get to know each other and start to think about Mark's Gospel in the light of its first verse: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ (Mark 1:1),” wrote Michel Di Feliciantonio (Italy), associate field leader of OM in Italy. “Everyone has some kind of idea about Jesus. But how does Mark describe Jesus and His identity? Why is Jesus good news?”
Four months from its first meeting, the group has now completed reading and studying the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark. Its announcement of John the Baptist unfolds through to the first steps of Jesus' ministry, presents the ‘gospel of Jesus Christ,’ explains its characteristics. The group considered what gives the gospel life and what its implications are.
“We held a social dinner, set in the city of Pisa itself, which celebrated the end of the first chapter,” Michel enthused. “We were able to invite new people into the community who prefer a ‘neutral’ meeting place as a first meeting. Around 20 people came—it was a great evening!”
The group hope to attract students and young people in creative ways, such as the recent art exhibition in December 2017. The group also invite community interaction through open mic evenings at a bar in Pisa, English language classes in a pub in Pisa and other community events.
The group has been enriched by people with different backgrounds and different beliefs, like Sonia, a single mother, who is slowly starting to come out of her shell, and Janelle, an American PhD student, who is not only living in a new country but also growing in her faith with new brothers and sisters.
“For now, we believe it is important to build on the group that is meeting in my house, as we grow together and in the Lord. But we are also planning ahead. OM Italia is fully behind this church plant, since everything that OM Italia does is in order to support churches, both existing and new ones. As we begin to hold outreaches, we will be able to formally launch the official existence of a new church!” Michel said.