JACKSON – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Pastor Mike Parry of Fruitland Community Church here knew they would need to cancel a mission trip to northeast Italy this spring, though they still wanted to invest in their partners in the region.
Then they heard that their partner church in Belluno, Italy, has been struggling financially amid the COVID-19 lockdown. So Parry approached the Cape Girardeau Baptist Association Director of Missions John Vernon about sending a gift to the Italian church and its pastor, Tommaso.
“Pastor Tommaso is a faithful pastor who does the work of an evangelist in his city and the region of northeast Italy,” Vernon told The Pathway. “He leads his church to do the same. It is one of the reasons we felt led to partner with the church he leads. They have been very receptive to the things we have taught and continued things we have modeled while serving alongside them.
“Pastor Tommaso is mostly supported by friends who contribute to his personal support. They are all struggling financially as a result of the pandemic and have had to limit or suspend their giving. The church is unable to gather which has limited their ability to receive funds from members who still have a source of income, jeopardizing the church’s ability to even pay rent on their building.”
As a result, the associational missions committee – chaired by Jeremy Sells, pastor of First Baptist Church, Scott City – decided unanimously to send $2,000 from the association. They also encouraged churches in the association to add to the gift whatever they felt led to give.
“I believe churches who are able to help other churches in need should feel compelled to do something at this time, whether those in need are in places like Italy or local,” Vernon said. “Many of our churches have reserve funds, some are substantial. I have to ask ‘Did the Lord bless these churches and compel them to save these funds for a time such as this?’”
Alongside Fruitland Community Church and FBC Scott City, three other churches from the Cape Girardeau Baptist Association are partnering in Belluno, Italy: First Baptist Church, Millersville; First Baptist Church, Perryville; and The Church of the Rescued and Redeemed, Cape Girardeau.