Rick Holland serves as senior pastor of Mission Road Bible Church in Kansas City. See how MRBC’s partnership with the Italian Theological Academy has helped spur on their love for Christ—and their passion for His Great Commission.
My first visit to Italy still echoes loudly in my memory. Beautiful landscapes, kind people, incomparable food, and unmistakable spiritual blindness. That trip created a burden in my heart that has only grown since.
It’s been said that the Protestant Reformation never crossed the Alps into the Roman Catholic fortress of Italy. History has proven this true. However, God has been faithfully and steadily building His church in the boot-shaped country. Pastors and missionaries have been investing into Italian souls for generations. But we are witnessing a unique season and opportunity that can change the trajectory of ministry in Italy. This is what makes me excited to be a part of the Italian Theological Academy (ITA).
Accessibility to travel and technology allows us contact with evangelicals in ways unknown even a few years ago. Consequently, the ITA can now take theological training around the country through face-to-face classes and follow up through digital avenues. And these opportunities are only beginning. The ITA paints with both a broad and narrow brush. We can teach theology and Bible survey to any believer who desires to learn and grow, and out of these people identify men who can be the next expositors in Italy.
It is not an overstatement to say that the ministry of the ITA has produced radical and wonderful changes in our church. We love Christ and His mission better because of our involvement with the ITA.
My involvement in the ITA has had deep and abiding effects on both me and our church in Kansas City. I have been privileged to minister in Italy through the ITA many times. Each trip only increases my burden for the spiritual needs of the Italian people and the challenges that true believers face because of their faithfulness. Partnering with the men who teach in the ITA is always an encouragement and convicts me to be a better believer and pastor myself. And the impact of the ITA on Mission Road Bible Church, where I serve, is dramatic. We have hosted Johnny Gravino, Massimo Mollica, and others for conferences and simple visits in our church, and these interactions have tuned our hearts to what God is doing in Italy. Our people now pray for ministry of ITA regularly, give to the ministry sacrificially, and follow up personally with ITA associates. Knowing the men involved in the ITA ministry has also generated short-term missions’ trips and even personal trips of our church members to visit Italy to learn from and encourage them. It is not an overstatement to say that the ministry of the ITA has produced radical and wonderful changes in our church. We love Christ and His mission better because of our involvement with the ITA.
Finally, as a board member, I have been significantly affected by the ITA. The men on the board are especially committed to one another, to the core values and goals of the ministry, and to the men in Italy who teach the classes and shepherd the students. With each interaction with the men who lead the ITA, I receive far more encouragement than I provide. This is a ministry with a lot of moving parts and people. But it is easy to see God at work. The potential for the ministry is massive, but will not happen independent of the work of God through the gospel. I am unspeakably grateful for our church to be involved with the ministry of the Italian Theological Academy. I pray God will prompt more to join us in this mission!
ITA Board Member
How can your local congregation get involved? TMAI’s adopt-a-training-center program gives your church the opportunity to partner closely with one of our training centers—to engage as a congregation in the Great Commission by investing in church leaders around the world.
For more information, call 818-909-5747 to speak with TMAI’s Church Partnership Coordinator Michael Park, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.