Not all of these questions have been asked frequently. Some haven’t even been asked of us, but since we can anticipate that they will come up, we thought they should go in here anyway. Hopefully you will find any questions you have answered below, but if there is anything we have missed, please drop us a line.
1. Do we really need to send missionaries to Italy?
When we were in Italy, we met missionaries who had formerly been in Venezuela, but had left when the mission agency decided that their work there was done, and moved them to a more needy field. (Note: This does not mean that all mission work is unnecessary in Venezuela, but that this mission agencies work was complete. Take this as an indication of remarkable progress in such areas of the world.) That they were transferred from South America to Italy is a sign of where things stand in the world right now. Oh, and we also met missionaries sent by churches in Venezuela to plant churches in Italy. Nations that formerly needed missionaries are now sending them to those places that used to send them.
Italy itself is a massive mission field, and in a few ways. Italians themselves have bought into New Age and witchcraft (there are three times as many consulting magicians than Roman Catholic priests). Less than 1 in 20 communities have an evangelical witness. The gospel is scarcely present in the daily lives of Italians, despite their Christian heritage and culture. Italy, despite its material and cultural wealth, is as spiritually impoverished as anywhere else on the globe.
At the same time, Italy (as with much of Europe) has seen a huge influx of immigrants and migrant workers from more traditional mission fields such as Africa and South America, but especially from countries where mission work remains very difficult such as the staunchly Muslim countries of North Africa. A witness to these groups has the potential to be a profound step forward for the gospel in otherwise difficult regions.
2. How does the money work?
We are seeking to raise money to meet two budgets-a relocation budget to allow us to move to Trieste, and a monthly budget to allow us to live once we arrive. A missionary agency has agreed to handle our finances by gathering what is sent to us in an account, and by providing accountability for how it is spent. It is this agency (Adventive Cross Cultural Initiatives) that will be receipting all donations.
3. How much money is required?
Let’s look at the two budgets:
Monthly Budget: for our monthly expenses we are aiming to raise $6000. This will pay for rent, utilities, food, insurance (health, life, car, etc.) clothing, school expenses for the kids, car expenses, ministry costs and other expenses that are part of the day to day life of any family. As well, a small amount will be put aside monthly to fund a furlough, which is a requirement for any mission agency.
Relocation Budget: although we are still nailing down some costs, it looks like we will need to raise $20 000 in order to move to Trieste. This includes plane tickets, visas, setting up an apartment (typical Italian apartments come with literally nothing, including kitchen cabinets and appliances), initial housing costs, and a container to ship some of our stuff to Trieste, including our car as it is much cheaper to ship a car than buy a new one.
4. Sounds like a lot. Is this a lot more than for a missionary to go elsewhere?
Not really. While we will pay more for rent and food in Italy than in other countries, we pay less for schooling and insurance. In the end it balances out, making missions in Italy pretty comparable to missions in other countries. While it may seem like a lot of money, the reality is that missions cost something. I suggest, however, that of all of the ways we can spend our money, it is one of the best investments.
5. Will you have another form of income in Italy, such as being paid by the church?
It is possible that in the future we can supplement our income with jobs in Italy, but for the first while at least we will be totally dependent on your support. And as our goal is to raise up local leaders, rather than to run the church ourselves, we would not be the recipients of any money that potentially became available in the church. We have made some initial inquiries about the possibility of employment, but have no immediate prospects at this point.
6. How can we best support you?
We appreciate your prayer and financial support. It is very helpful to know that we have prayer intercessors that are spiritually partnering with us in Canada. Our other need is for monthly donations. While we are very grateful for one-time donations, even a small amount per month will make a huge difference.
7. If I make a monthly commitment, how long am I obligated to continue?
You choose. We have committed to stay indefinitely, but the length of your commitment to support us is completely up to you. As our stay in Italy will be re-evaluated approximately every four years, it makes sense that support can be re-evaluated at this time also.
8. When do we start with monthly donations?
As soon as you are able. If you begin now, the money will accrue and either go towards relocation expenses (this is a major way we are raising this money) or a monthly stipend account.
9. Are receipts available for donations?
Absolutely. Adventive Cross Cultural Initiatives will issue receipts in both Canada and the United States for any and all donations received. If donations are made online, they will be sent directly to your email.
10. When will you be leaving for Trieste?
It really depends. We have set a target of leaving as early as August, but our timetable is ultimately dependent on when the necessary amount of money is available, and our house sells. We believe that God will take care of everything we need for the trip, and that the timetable is in his hands.
11. Do you have an exit strategy? How will you know it is time to move on?
Knowing when to leave is an important part of mission work. The goal is to raise up local leadership, and then leave to make way for them. The challenge is to do this at the right time. After our first two years in Trieste, and then subsequently at four year intervals, we will reevaluate with both the sending agency and local church our future in Trieste. Once in Trieste, we will create a set of benchmarks to help guide us in this process. We have committed ourselves to working with a team, and so expect to bring others into this discussion with us.
12. How does accountability work?
It has always been important to us that we not work in isolation, and so we are blessed to have found some great people to work with. In order to work in Trieste, we have submitted ourselves to be accountable to the leadership of the church there. As we will be working closely together, they are in the best position to take this role. Our accountability for financial matters comes from our sending agency (Adventive Cross Cultural Initiatives), who will be handling our finances and ensuring that they are utilized in a proper way.
13. Where will Mitchell and Vika attend school?
This was a bit of a concern for a while. Although we heard from many others that, if placed in an Italian school, they would do just fine, it still seems like a difficult thing to do. However, we have recently heard about a public school that is set-up for kids who come from outside Italy. It is like having a French Immersion class in France, and having this option has made us feel a whole lot better.
14. Can we come visit you in Italy?
Sure, why not? So long as you don’t mind babysitting for us while you are there!