9. Books, broadcasting, and the Bible College

ebook: Pasta, pizza, and Pinocchio: Questions and answers about missionary service in Italy (part 10)

Missions in Italy

In this electronic book (e-book), "Pasta, pizza and Pinocchio," Howard Culbertson answers questions he has has been asked about missionary work in Italy. Originally published for the Nazarene Missions International mission book series by what is now The Foundry, this book carried ISBN number 0-8341-0612-4. Some material has been updated for this e-book edition.

Is the Bible readily available in Italy?

Yes, there is an arm of the United Bible Societies in Italy that sponsors scripture translation, production, and distribution. In addition, some Roman Catholic publishing houses are involved in printing Bibles.

Translation of the most widely used Italian Protestant version was done in early 2006 under the sponsorship of a Paris-based Bible society. A contemporary language translation in the style of the English Good News for Modern Man has been done jointly by the United Bible Societies and a Roman Catholic publishing house.

Do we print any Bibles in Italy?

No. However, the annual offering given in many churches in the U.S. for the American Bible Society does mean that Nazarene money is involved in Italian Bible printing and distribution.

For many years,our own publishing work in Italy came out with two or three small Christian books a year as well as producing some music. We have done recorded music, a hymnal, mission books as well as books on doctrine and Christian living. The Nazarene Manual was completed in Italian with the financial help of a Nazarene layman from California.

Do you do all of the translating?

I don't do any of it. My wife Barbara did the translating and adapting of Sunday school lessons. We have Italians who do the book translating and editing for us. I do quite a bit of the proofreading.

Do we have any printing presses in Italy?

No, we do not. For a while, we tried running a small print shop, but we just didn't have the volume of work to justify that investment. All of our work is done by commercial printers who have far better equipment than we could ever hope to own. And we don't have to worry about hiring and firing employees, keeping the plant busy, maintenance, and buildings.

Do you use the Nazarene hymnal in Italy?

Well, ours is different from the English version. Our Italian hymnal, which contains over 200 hymns and gospel songs, is a collection of original Italian music, hymns from the international Christian heritage like "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and "How Great Thou Art," and some distinctly Nazarene music like "Called unto Holiness." Much of the translation work required for the hymnal was done by Alfredo Del Rosso. The present hymnal is the fruit of years of effort by Roy and Nina Fuller.

Most Italian hymnals are published with only the words -- no music. Thanks to the financial help of the Virginia District (and some individuals) we have words-only and words-and-music editions.

Do the churches use pianos in their singing?

Only Florence and Torre Annunziata have pianos. Some of the other churches would like to have pianos, but get by with small electric organs. These can, of course, be purchased and maintained a lot cheaper than pianos.

Some groups sing a cappella while others use accordions, guitars, or even harmonicas as accompaniment. In our little preaching point at San Mauro, our 18-year-old musician shows up every week with different instruments to accompany our singing. Needless to say, he keeps things interesting!

Do we have a Nazarene radio station in Italy?

No, although we did consider going in with a group of evangelicals to put up an FM station in Rome. That project never materialized. For years, a 15-minute weekly program, "L'Ora Nazarena," was produced in a Southern Baptist recording studio in Rome and transmitted from Radio Monte Carlo in Monaco, a 600,000-watt AM station that blanketed almost all of Italy. Then, the program began to be carried by a few private FM stations in Italy.

Do we have a television ministry in Italy?

Not on a regular basis. Until recently, broadcasting in Italy was a government monopoly, so there was no opportunity for Christian programs even on commercial stations. That is now, rapidly changing. In the Florence area, three of our pastors have appeared on a private TV station's talk show.

But aren't Christian programs being beamed in by satellite?

They may be, but nobody is receiving them. First of all, you've got to have a ground station to pick up the satellite transmission and relay it on. Nobody has yet constructed such a ground station in Italy. Then the programming will have to be in Italian to be useful. English programs would be totally ineffective in Italy.

Do you have a ham radio like some other missionaries I've heard about?

While we were in Italy I was not into amateur radio. Italy doesn't have the agreements with the U.S. as do many other countries to recognize each other's ham radio licenses. When we went to Haiti I did, however, get my amateur radio license and used ham radio there extensively for communication purposes. [ Devotionals using ham radio illustrations ]

Do we have a Bible school in Italy?

No. A fledgling Italian Bible School and a similar German effort were merged in the 1960s. They formed what is now European Nazarene College, a school that now serves all of Europe via centers in more than 15 countries. It is thus a very de-centralized school that offers classes in Italy in Italian.

How many Italian students do we have in the Bible school?

There are about a dozen Italians taking courses at the Italy center of EuNC. ... and that's not enough. One lady recently graduated but we need to be graduating three or four students every year.
What part of Italy are our churches in?

They range from up close to the French border in the north to the island of Sicily in the south. On the mainland peninsula, however, all of them are located in the western half.

Are our churches located in large cities?

Yes, they are, for the most part. Cities like Rome (three million), Palermo and Turin (one and a half million), and Florence and Catania (half a million each). We have had churches and groups in smaller towns.

How many Italian pastors do we have?

There are currently three ordained Italian pastors (and one of those is retired) as well as some with local and district licenses.

Are our Italian pastors full-time, or do they hold jobs on the side?

In the early 1960s, the decision was made to go to full-time salaried pastors. That made it difficult for local churches to be self-supporrting since the congregations are fairly small. However, we now have some lay pastors who work at secular jobs as well as pastoring.

Do we have any English-speaking congregations in Italy?

No, we do not. The large concentrations of American military people have made possible such churches in Germany, Japan, and other countries. However, American military installations in Italy tend to be small and there would rarely be more than one or two Nazarene families at a time in the whole country.

Who is your district superintendent?

During the time we were in Italy, the superintendent was an Italian born in Naples named Salvatore Scognamiglio. He pastored what was then our largest church and was one of the speakers on the radio program. He and his wife, Milvia, a vivacious redhead, were converted in Florence in the early 1960s under the ministry of missionary Cerrato.

Later, Giovanni Cereda from Sicily was the superintendent. His father was one of the original pioneer pastors with Alfredo Del Rosso back in the 1950s. The current district leader is Daniel Fink, who is also the pastor of the Florence church. His wife Vania is the daughter of Rev. Scognamiglio. . . . [ continue reading ]

  Page:   ←Prev    |    Introduction   |    1. The Leaning Tower, the Lira, and  Women's Lib   |    2. Italian, Illegal Drugs, and Insulated  Buildings   |    3. Fiats, Florence, and Furloughs    |    4. The Military, Missionaries, and the  Mafia   |    5. Marco Polo and Ronald McDonald   |    6. The Cerratos, Alabaster Churches, and  Work Crews    |    7. Communism, Catholicism, and the Charismatics   |    8. Sincerity, Self-support, and Sowing the  Seed   |   10. Culture Shock and Carpeting    |    11. A Word from My Heart    |    Next→  

Culture shock and carpeting

Next chapterWhat are some Italian customs that would be different from those in the U.S.? . . . How do you decide what to do as a missionary? . . . Do all missionaries get paid the same? . . . [ more ]
-- Howard Culbertson,

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