The European Missionary Fellowship seeks to encourage and establish evangelical churches across Europe. Here is an account from one of their workers in Italy.
THE REPUBLIC OF SAN MARINO
It is the year 301 AD and the Roman emperor Deocletian is venting his anger against the Christians. Among those fleeing the persecution is a stonemason from the island of Arbe off the Dalmatian coast. After crossing the Adriatic, he eventually settles on a piece of land just west of the ltalian coastal town of Rimini, where he sets up a community. The stonemason is called Marino and that area of land came to be known as San Marino, the oldest republic in the world. That, at least, is how the story goes. Two main factors seem to have been responsible for its lasting independence: its neutral status and its refusal to accept the offer by Napoleon Bonaparte of an outlet to the sea' Lacking natural resources, the republic was once poor and heavily dependent on agriculture, which led many residents to emigrate, mostly to the United States, France and Switzerland. Thanks largely to the tourism industry, the standard of living has improved considerably in the last few decades and a lot of these people have decided to return. The current population is about 32,000. Although a state in its own right, San Marino is obviously heavily dependent on Italy in many ways.
When I moved to Forlì some twenty years ago, I knew very little about San Marino, which is just a one-hour drive away, except that there were very few believers there. One day a colleague of mine approached me to ask if I'd like to teach on a course that she was going to be running there that summer. During the two weeks I spent there I began to feel a burden for this little republic and not long afterwards I decided that by God's grace I would seek to do what I could to bring the gospel to at least some of the people. For about four years I spent most Saturdays, when I was free, going from door to door with a short questionnaire and a selection of gospel tracts, seeking to engage people in conversation. I was thankful for the prayer support I received, but was conscious that there was no church or Christian family I could direct people to. A few people were willing to talk, but no visible progress was made. Eventually other commitments led me somewhat reluctantly to stop my visits to the republic.
In the providence of God I was able last year to start Bible studies in a private home. Luciano is from San Marino and is married to Jenny, a Christian lady from Cuba. They have two sons (Jean-Michel, aged 13 and Jean-William, aged 9) and Jenny's mother (not a believer) is staying with them until the summer. Alexandra is a Brazilian Christian who is married to Francesco from San Marino, who is not a Christian. We've just finished the Exploring Christianity course and are now going through a kind of catechism I've come across. I'm especially thankful for Luciano, who is showing a lot of interest - in fact it was he who asked if we could hold the meetings in the first place. I'm hoping in the next few weeks to resume my door-to door work in the area where these friends live, a part of San Marino I haven't visited in the past. Please pray that the Lord would be pleased to establish a lasting work in San Marino to the glory of His grace.
- Michael Steedman, Forlì Italy
(Reproduced with permission of EMF from Vision for Europe magazine)
Find out about San Marino (it has a fascinating history) and pray for Michael as he seeks the establishment a new work in San Marino.
Stimulate your prayers by reading the Vision for Europe magazines that are available in the church, they give an interesting and different perspective on the “real Europe” compared to what is seen on our television and in our papers.