Week of Prayer for International Missions: Day 6
ITALY (IMB) –The Worthy family recognizes the importance of investing in relationships in the Italian culture. For more than 17 years, Charlie and Shannon Worthy have invested their lives and ministry in Italy as IMB missionaries.
The Worthys have been close partners with the Missouri Baptist Convention, which has a missions partnership in Italy. Missouri Baptists also support the work of the Worthys by giving through the Cooperative Program and through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
This year Missouri’s goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $4 million.
The Worthys describe the spiritual climate of Italy as ambivalent. Italians are warm, loving and open people; however, they don’t know they need a Savior. Evangelical Christians in Italy number roughly 1%, and most Italians are nominal Catholics at best.
By immersing themselves fully in Italian culture, the Worthy family has made connections on a deep, personal level. As they live life as an American-Italian family in Italy, the Worthys are pushing back the darkness and bringing the hope of the gospel to those who don’t yet know Jesus.
As church planters, the Worthys’ work bridges the two worlds of local Italian pastors and U.S. churches. Working alongside local and U.S. partners, they leverage their roles to make strategic connections that bring the gospel to areas of Italy with little to no evangelical witness. Whether leading a group of students, a group of Baptist state convention executives or a church group, they strategically place these partnering groups in areas of Italy where the church does not exist. These partners engage with the people of Italy and create relationships that impact the kingdom for eternity.
Additionally, finding opportunities for volunteers to serve through their local partners is key in developing long-term partnerships both locally and globally. Charlie explained that they have seen much fruit over the years through these partnerships.
“Partnering alongside nationals is the bedrock of our ministry here,” said Charlie. “Coming alongside these fellow laborers will get the gospel to those who need to hear it faster than if we went at it alone.”
“These local believers are the ones who will be here long after we’re gone. The Lord has called us to be a guest in their home. Partnering with them will always be the best method to plant churches and disciple believers.”
Ultimately, because of Charlie and Shannon’s connection to Southern Baptists in the U.S. and because of their deep understanding of Italian culture, they are able to understand how to best utilize both partnerships in advancing the gospel. They are essential to the ministry of the Worthy family in Italy.
“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is critical to what we do,” said Charlie. “The offering supports us so we can focus on the local work here in Italy and not have to be encumbered with consistently raising funds back in the United States. The LMCO allows us to have a house to live in, a car to drive, and our healthcare provided so that we can concentrate on the ministry and our local partners.”
“We are grateful for Southern Baptists, and we are grateful and honored to be Southern Baptists.”