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Concerning Immigrants
"My Church Has Taught Me"

by Luca Brenga

 
More than 25 members (Italians and non-Italians) of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Milan donned yellow and took part in a day-long
More than 25 members (Italians and non-Italians) of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Milan donned yellow and took part in a day-long "strike of the foreigners" on March 1. Church member Valerie is shown being interviewed by the press. The strike was intended to showcase the contributions made by immigrants to the Italian economy. Read The New York Times' account of the strike: nytimes.com/2010/03/02/world/europe/02iht-italy.html
Image by: David Markay

Milan, Italy, March 30, 2010--For nearly a decade, the small Protestant community in Italy has been assisting immigrant brothers and sisters from all over the world. The Chiesa Evangelica Metodista di Milano, to which I belong, is a testimony of this phenomenon. In fact, in our congregation we can count 18 different nationalities among us, from Ghana, Togo, Benin, the Philippines, India, the United States, and Japan--all comprising a little world within our congregation.

How was it possible, how is it possible to live in this Babel of languages, cultures, sensibilities, and profound differences among us? It is not easy--there is no need to hide that fact. It is not easy for either those who welcome the stranger and who have always been accustomed to their own habits and traditions (which may be, at times, a bit rigid), or for those who arrive and find a completely different world from their own--people who have different ways of living and expressing their faith.

In Italy, in this period in which the fear of the stranger seems to be spreading, I have been able to live an experience which is completely contrary to fear and closed-ness. My experience is of openness, reciprocal respect, esteem, and most importantly, friendship. The church is the place where multiculturalism is lived out, and this multiculturalism has become part of my reality: the joy with which African and Filipino brothers and sisters sing their faith! Now I could not imagine a church without them! The deep spirituality and the strong connection to the Scriptures are blessings from God which stimulate my own sleeping faith.

Through these new brothers and sisters in the congregation, I have learned what it means to be alone in a country and be considered "different," to encounter problems related to work and not experience the right to live with dignity, and to endure the enormous difficulties of being separated even from their children! I will never forget a couple of Filipino brothers who were crying because bureaucratic problems had forced them to be separated from their little brother.

All this comes to my mind when on television or the media in general, we see people making scapegoats of the foreigners for all of the country's ills. My church has taught me that the majority of people who arrive here are honest, that they have had to make huge sacrifices, and that they have made them with courage and dignity! It has taught me that these stranieri (foreigners) can be my family. It has taught me that they can be the voice of God that speaks not only to me, but to the church and the society.

Luca Brenga is a member of the Chiesa Evangelica Metodista di Milano. The article was translated from Italian. The congregation in Milan is served by the Revs. Kristin and David Markay, missionaries of the General Board of Global Ministries.

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See Also...
Topic: Global connections Hate Immigration International affairs Peace Race Focus on Congregational Development
Geographic Region: BeninGhanaIndiaItalyJapanPhilippinesTogo
Source: GBGM Mission News
 
 

arrow icon. View Listing of Missionaries Currently Working in: Benin    Ghana |    India |    Italy |    Japan |    Philippines |    Togo |   

Date posted: Mar 30, 2010