Dear ministry partner,
In over 12 years of ministry, my wife Renee and I have given our lives to pastor, mentor and train those to whom God has sent us. Four and a half years ago, the Lord planted us in Sicily – Italy’s southernmost, autonomous region – where we’re closer to North Africa than to Europe. This past year 2017 we officially crossed over the threshold into a second phase of mission and ministry!
What have we been doing the past 4 years?
The past four years have been vital to laying a solid foundation of rapport, credibility and value with our local Sicilian and national Italian partners. We’ve been focused on building relationships, acclimating to the culture, learning the language (a little of the local dialect too), and adapting our training and past experience to minister effectively here in this unique ministry environment.
Beginning ministry earlier would have been premature. The right foundation had to be laid, the right partnerships had to be made, skills had to be adapted, new ones acquired, and we had to adjust to where God planted us. But, after years of diligent work, we’re ready for this new phase!
Our mission: Make Disciples, Plant Churches and Build Bridges of Hope all over Sicily.
Unique calling and local church partnerships
Sicily is like no other place on earth, it’s being called the “Crossroads of Continents” in its Post-Christian, Western European context, and a veritable “Cauldron of Cultures” where the nations are arriving daily (quite literally) in search of help and hope. Sicily is geographically and culturally related to both Europe and Africa, strategically located between them as a portal and a staging ground for global aims, placing us right in the heart of the current migrant crisis.
In a trampled-on corner of the world that even the Roman Catholic Church recognizes as a “mission field”, Sicilian evangelical believers struggle with a double-layer of work to do. Proclaiming good news in Sicily means 1) undoing bonds of religious, superstitious and political traditions while 2) introducing people anew to Jesus and His Gospel, God’s free gift of grace that can’t be used as leverage for personal gain. Renee and I are uniquely qualified and called to do it.
- I’ve been visiting Sicily for over 25 years; my family roots are Italian and I “get it”
- We’ve prior experience in Europe and we’re particularly wired to work with pastors
- We’ve obtained the respect of pivotal local pastors as well as national Italian partners
- We’ve already launched disciple-making programs, we’re developing outreach groups
- We’re ready to go to the next phase: taking these groups and planting them as churches
“Brian, you’re not like other missionaries,” Gino said. And I knew what he meant, being sent here to work with local Sicilian churches for discipleship and church planting is unusual. “We need you here.” You can find Gino in some of our other online videos; he’s the pastor of the local church here in Belpasso, and our primary local partner for disciple making and church planting.
Would you give financially to launch the next phase?
As you know, we’re in this for the long haul. Sadly though, 90% of missionaries to Italy leave before their first 3-year term has ended, citing financial and/or relational problems. Italy is called the “missionary’s graveyard” for good reason. And yet we’ve survived, by God’s grace and your partnership! We’re asking the Lord, however, and turning to you, to help us move out of a survival season and into a new season of sustainability.
Help us launch this next phase of ministry in Sicily in a sustainable fashion; one that’s not teetering on survival. Help us launch outreach groups, plant churches, and make a difference. Let me explain why our current model doesn’t really get us there.
Here’s where we’re at and a 20/20 vision for the future
Right now, we’re living below the “SURVIVAL” level for what we truly need; we’ve a monthly support deficit of about $2,300 USD per month! I won’t pretend it’s been easy, but life is full of sacrifices. However, barely “getting by” is also holding us back from being fully engaged in the work we’ve been sent to do. This season is critical.
Reaching a level of “SUSTAINABILITY” would mean we could continue to do the work we’ve put our hands to without cutting short our time and efforts, not to mention having our basic family needs met like food, clothing and transportation.
It would mean finally getting that ministry vehicle / family car that we’ve needed to replace for over the past two years (we’re currently 65% funded on that), and to do simple things like keeping our passports renewed, celebrating birthdays, and paying our taxes on time. In effect, making ministry and life sustainable here.
Our ultimate goal is achieving a level of support “SATURATION” where we could forgo the part-time gigs of teaching English that currently augment 30% of this monthly support deficit. We could push this partnership with the local church(es) forward, launching it in multiple directions at once. But, let’s take one step at a time, as they say in Sicily, “piano, piano” (or slowly, slowly). We’ll give it until 2020, hence a 20/20 vision.
What are we asking for? What will sustainable take?
If at least half of our current partners would increase their monthly gifts by just 20% each, and we also had 20 new financial partners, then we’d hit our goal of sustainability for the 2018-year. So…
> If you currently give, could you make a 20% increase in your monthly donation amount? We’re asking that at least half of you would respond to that with a pledge of yes! You can make the increase by accessing your account, making a phone call or sending an email. Easy as 1, 2, 3 !
*Please reference missionaries “Alex, Brian & Renee 31403”
> If you don’t currently give, would you join us on this mission to Disciple * Plant * Build the Kingdom of God here in Sicily? Would you commit to a monthly, tax-deductible, suggested donation of $50 or $100 per month? Help us launch, click “Donate” or call 1-800-825-5896.
What will the next 3 months look like? More disciples, churches and bridges of hope!
- Completing the 3rd cycle of spiritual formation, “discipleship” classes (1st, 2nd and 3rd years)
- Concluding our launch program for Piano Tavola, and potentially baptizing some new believers
- Initiating the second phase of community group ministry in Piano Tavola towards a church-plant
- Conducting a similar launch program from scratch in another town called Motta Sant’Anastasia
- Implementing a new preaching schedule for our team to free up Gino and I to focus on planting
Thank you for helping us to make disciple-makers, plant life-giving churches, and build hope-inspiring bridges all across Sicily! -Brian & Renee Alex, serving in Sicily since 2013