Weekly column from Italy: How to serve the city of Rome
The Lord has called us as a family to be part of a church planting project in a new neighbourhood of Rome.
Exactly one year ago, we moved to a neighbourhood called Prati. We knew it was an important part of the city where many offices, institutional buildings and historical sites are located. Every day, thousands of workers and tourists arrive from many different places.
Chiara Lamberti (1992) was born and raised in Naples, Italy. She studied Communication Sciences and has a master's degree in Information, Publishing and Journalism. She also has a degree in theology. She writes for the Italian Evangelical Alliance and contributes to the Protestant magazine Loci Communes. With her husband and daughter she lives in Rome.
Thinking about the planting of a church, however, this information was not enough. Rome is a complicated and difficult city to live in. Many souls live together: it is a big town, the capital city of Italy and the centre of the Roman Catholic Church. So, the church needs to understand the spiritual reality in which it is immersed to be able to deal with it.
Therefore, a core group began to study this reality.
After we prayed and did some study, the Lord allowed us to see that there are three areas that characterise our neighbourhood socially, culturally, and spiritually.
First of all, the courts of Rome (civil and criminal) and the Italian Supreme Court are located in Prati. Consequently, there are hundreds of law offices throughout the neighbourhood. We realised that the church must pray for these places where justice is administered and we also must preach God's righteous justice that is so often lacking in the Italian courts. The church also needs to be a place that embodies and promotes justice .
Then, the neighbourhood is famous for being home to Italy's largest television company, the state TV RAI. With its channels, Tv, radio and digital, RAI has been informing, entertaining, and shaping the culture of Italians for more than 70 years. Its programs do not include the idea of religious pluralism but are a mix of Catholic morality and transgression and secularisation. A church close to it’s the main offices of the broadcast, will have to pray for a reformation of RAI, inspired by cultural pluralism, away from religious confessionalism and secularised ideologies; for a true pluralism of information that recognises minorities and creates adequate spaces for everyone; for Christian vocations in the field of journalism, information, cinema, entertainment, etc. so that a Biblical worldview is promoted also in these areas.
Finally, Prati is the district that shares its borders with the Vatican City walls. This has a great spiritual impact on the district. When the Vatican was built, in fact, the papacy did not recognise the Italian state for depriving it of its territory. Relations between the State and the Vatican were so tense that the streets of the district were built so that none had St Peter's dome in the background. In 1920s-1930s, Fascism then eased tensions by making Catholicism the state religion. The church that will be planted here will have the responsibility to preach that it is only Christ who saves and not the fact of living so close to a religious system that symbolises everything that Romans and Italians believe religion to be. We also must pray for a season of reformation according to the Gospel, and for conversions to Christ among those who live there.
Not having been born in Rome and having lived in this part of the city for just few months, I was surprised to discover how everything you see in the daily life of the neighbourhood has deep historical roots and how those realities have shaped the spiritual reality around us. Reading the city in a spiritual way is a way to understand how to serve it, pray for it and seek its good.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29,7
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