Local Missionaries in Italy
The majority of refugees and asylum seekers who arrive in Europe by sea go through Italy, which has received more than 500,000 such arrivals since 2014. This influx and previous immigration includes many Muslims, raising Italy’s Muslim population to nearly 2.2 million people, 3.7 percent of the total. Among the largest Muslim groups in Italy are Arabs numbering 1.2 million, plus another 75,000 Arab Egyptians. Italy also has 457,000 predominantly Muslim Albanians and 79,000 ethnic Wolof, almost all Muslim, from western Africa.
In addition to the growing Muslim population, the vast majority of Italy’s Christian adherents –81.3 percent of the population – identify as Roman Catholic and have little knowledge of the Bible or the gospel.
A native ministry that began as an outreach to Muslims in Italy soon focused its efforts on the refugees streaming in from Afghanistan and North Africa, especially Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. Native Christian workers are helping immigrants integrate into cities, thus reducing conflicts, which improves not only Italians’ image of Muslims but Muslims’ view of Christians, opening opportunities for gospel conversations.
Workers help Muslim refugees learn Italian and arrange for them to obtain medical and legal assistance, creating further bridges to engage in spiritual conversations and invite them to Bible studies. They also go to refugees in train stations and the streets to offer them food, prayer and gospel materials. Besides discipling those who put their faith in Christ, workers also train churches to reach Muslims with the gospel and assist Arabic-speaking congregations with activities for women and children. New Christians who are persecuted for leaving Islam receive support and encouragement from workers.
Sources: Joshua Project, Wikipedia, International Rescue Committee
How to Pray for
- Pray for the safety of refugees in their dangerous journeys and in their lives on the streets looking for shelter and employment.
- Pray the Lord will empower native Christian workers to provide the assistance and training necessary for refugees to survive.
- Pray the refugees from Muslim countries and elsewhere will see Christ as Lord and Savior.