THE MILANESE CALL
In Acts 16, Luke records the famous "Macedonian Call" that sent the apostle Paul as a missionary to Macedonia. Paul saw a vision of a Macedonian man urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16.6-10). As a result, several churches were planted and many disciples were made.
My decision to go to Italy as a missionary was not the cause of special revelation. God did not tell me in a vision or a dream that I should go to Milan, but he did put a Milanese man in my life who, for years, urged me and said, “Come over to Italy and help us.” Since 2009, Rev. Andrea Ferrari, the pastor of a small Reformed church in Milan, has asked me to pray about coming over to help him plant churches and establish a confessional denomination in Italy. After happily serving Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, California for more than fourteen years, I am headed to the foreign mission field with my wife and son. God willing, we will arrive in June 2018.
WHY I AM GOING
Italy is a country rich in history, art and cuisine. It is the land of the ancient Romans, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the fashion capital of the world. But when it comes to the gospel, it is poor and impoverished. Less than 1% of Italians identify as Protestant. There is no Reformed or Presbyterian denomination in the country. Although the Reformation thrived in Italy during the 1520s and 1530s, it died at the hands of a violent Roman Inquisition in the early 1540s.
I am going to Italy to preach the gospel and make disciples of Jesus Christ. I want to do whatever I can to help bring the Reformation back to this needy country. For the past eight years, I have been traveling there annually to assist our missionary, Rev. Ferrari, and lay the groundwork for a confessional Reformed denomination. This past summer, the Lord made it very clear to my wife and me that he is calling me to this work. This sense of call grew stronger as I served the little congregation in Milan, preaching and teaching in Italian for about three months, while Rev. Ferrari served the church-plant in Perugia.
As I said, Rev. Ferrari has asked me for many years to pray about coming over to Italy to help him. His pleas have always weighed on my heart. But the Lord used my 11-year-old son Iain to finally convince me that this is what he is calling me to do. I’d like to share that story with you.
FROM THE MOUTH OF A CHILD
Iain spent the whole summer in Italy with Janie and me. Besides worshiping with us every Sunday in Milan, he accompanied us as we visited the little church plants in Perugia, Turin, Romania, as well as some families in the very south of Italy, in Puglia, where I preached and met with a group of believers. Janie and I were both grateful that Iain could see these mission works firsthand. However, we did not expect the question he proposed. Throughout the summer, he made it very clear that he missed home, the beach, his dog, and his brother. He was not exactly happy about being in Italy for so long. But after seeing these little gatherings of Christians who were passionate about the gospel, he started asking who would help these people. “Dad, who will be the pastor for the people here in Puglia?” I carefully replied, “Well, we hope that God will send Vincenzo after he graduates seminary. But we need to pray about that.” (Vincenzo Coluccia is a student at Westminster Seminary California who is preparing to return to his native Puglia to plant a Reformed church.) “So who will be the pastor in Perugia?” “Well…We don’t know yet. We need to pray.” “Don’t the people want Pastor Ferrari there?” “Well, yes, the people are very happy with Pastor Ferrari, but…we need to pray.” “If Pastor Ferrari goes to Perugia, who will be the pastor for the people in Milan?” “Son, we just need to pray that God will supply a pastor, so that all the churches here can grow, OK?” “Dad, I think we should pray and ask God to send you here. You could help them.” I smiled and said something, like, “Well, we’ll see.” I went into the bathroom, closed the door, got down on my knees to pray, and cried.
After that, Rev. Ferrari and I worked on a proposal for the council of CURC. In September, after I returned home, I met with them and shared my heart. They began considering the proposal to send me as a missionary to Milan and Rev. Ferrari to Perugia. After seeking the advice of a multitude of counselors and spending more than a month in prayer and deliberation, they voted unanimously in favor of the proposal.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Rev. Ferrari and I need your prayers. We know that there will be many challenges ahead of us and that the work will not be easy. Please pray that:
The Lord will prepare the hearts of many in Italy;
The Lord will provide for our funding (I am currently at 75% of our needed funds for 2018);
My family and I can obtain visas from the Italian consulate;
Sell our home in San Diego;
Improve in our Italian skills;
Adjust to a new culture;
The Lord will provide CURC with a faithful pastor.
This mission to Italy is only possible with the faithful prayers and generous contributions of people like you. If you would like to help us meet our goal by making a donation, you may send a check to:
Escondido United Reformed Church
1864 N. Broadway
Escondido, CA 92026
Checks should be made out to Escondido United Reformed Church. Please indicate that the support is for Rev. Michael Brown as a missionary to Italy.
This is an exciting time to be alive and to bring the gospel to the country of Italy, which has long been in the grip of Satan. Having benefited from the labors and sacrifices of others who brought the light of the Reformation from Europe to America, let’s give back. Let’s work together in the planting of churches in a land where there are few. In the meantime, stay up to date with our newsletters as well as our social media platforms via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our new website! May God fill our sails with wind so that we never tire of making disciples of all nations!
Rev. Michael Brown