Ministry in BolognaChris Castaldo / Friday, January 6th, 2012 / 4 Comments »
Since Angela and I met Ester Montefalcone in 2006, we have affectionately called her “the female version of the Apostle Paul.” Ester’s gospel-centered vision and drive is inspiring, as the following overview of her ministry illustrates. Please join us in praying for our dear Sorella and her colleagues.
* * * * * * *
I was born in central Southern Italy, on the Eastern coast, in a non Christian family. Being born and raised on the coast, one of my greatest passion is the sea (and seafood).
My father was a Marxist with a strong atheist belief and my mother was a nominal Catholic. When I was 7, my mother met some Evangelical Christians from a local Brethern church who shared the Gospel with her and helped her realize her need for Jesus. She became a Christian and started taking me and my siblings to church with her and sending us to Bible summer camps.
At the age of 15, after some struggling, I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus. It was not easy being a committed Christian who attended a non Catholic church in a community where almost all of my peers were nominal Catholics with no evidence of a real relationship with the Lord. Around the age of 18, at a summer camp I decided that I wanted to serve the Lord wherever He wanted to take me. Short after that, I moved to Bologna for University and there I joined a small church plant started from a team of American missionaries, the Nuova Vita church. As an active member of this church I served in many capacities and developed a passion for reaching out to teenagers. After University I got a job at the airport where I worked for 5 years. In the meantime the sense that God was calling me to take a step of faith and consider full time ministry among the youth was increasing. As I prayed, met up with a mentor and considered various options, the Lord opened a door for an internship in Geneva (Switzerland) with Youth for Christ in a ministry among third culture kids in the international schools. My internship lasted 1 year and then I stayed on staff with YFC for a second year working in the international schools. At the same time, I was part of a youth team in a local international church that had a vibrant ministry among teenagers.
As I was asking God what was next and was available to go wherever He wanted to lead me, the European leadership of YFC suggested that I could start Youth for Christ in Italy. That was something they had been praying for a long time waiting for the Lord to raise some Italian leader willing to do that. The Lord provided the help and all the resources to make that happen and in June 2007 YFC Italia was legally constituted by a committee as an Italian Christian organization. I was hired as the National Director.
Activities under the umbrella of YFC Italia were started in Bologna in September 2007 and I have been living in Bologna again since then.
My ministry includes many different activities, and a lot of travelling too which I love, but where I have seen the Lord use me the most in the past 4 years is encouraging and empowering other youth workers in the country to pursue their call to youth evangelism. My desire is to see a huge movement of youth evangelism rise up in this country and bring Jesus and His transforming power to many hopeless teenagers.
Youth for Christ is a worldwide Christian movement working with young people around the globe. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ we share the good news of God with young people. What do Youth for Christ programs look like? It’s like asking what the weather is like in the USA or Europe. It all depends on where you are. Youth for Christ uniquely reaches young people in ways that are relevant to them in the context of their culture and life circumstances.
Youth for Christ Italia started in 2007 by the work of a small committee that realized the need of reaching out to unchurched teenagers in Italy. We believe that a nation can be changed by changing young people. We started with a great passion and desire to see teenagers redeemed. Since then the Lord has been opening doors for us with school work, camps, centers and events that have allowed us to communicate the Good News in words and deeds.
We started in Bologna and now we have work up and running in Bologna, Palermo and Florence.
Youth for Christ Italia’s Vision
As part of the body of Christ, we want to establish YFC center in Italy with a local leadership where teenagers can be welcome, exposed to the Gospel and disciple into Christ’s followers.
Youth for Christ Strategic Focus
Youth for Christ reaches young people everywhere by encouraging, empowering and equipping local churches and young leaders throughout the country to step out in faith and pursue God’s call on their life to youth evangelism
Bologna is in central Northern Italy. It’s a city known for the oldest University in the world (1088). Here we have Ester Montefalcone who founded YFC Italia in 2007 with the help of a committee and the support of a vibrant local church, Nuova Vita (New Life). In Bologna we have seen many doors open in high schools were we regularly do programmes and assemblies where we discuss culturally relevant topics giving space to the Biblical perspective.
In Bologna we have the National Office and since the beginning we have developed an internship programme where we train YFC staff and encourage them to pursue God’s call on their lives.
we also run an outreach summer camp called Exch@nge where a team of Christian highschoolers from College church (Wheaton) come and help. This parternship has resulted in amazing relationships between teenagers in Italy and teenagers in the USA.
Since September 2011 in parternship with 2 local churches in Bologna, we are running a club named Rock Solid where both churched and unchurched come together for a couple of hours of games, activities and reflection on Bible teachings.
- More staff, especially an Executive Director for the work in Bologna
- New Italian interns
- Funding for the National Office
Palermo in the capital of Sicily, a beautiful island in the Mediterranean sea in the most southern part of Italy. Here since November 2010 Andrea and Sheila Crocivera, in parternship with their local church (Centro Agape) run a youth center named MySpace Palermo. At MySpace Palermo all kids are welcome and in an atmosphere of fun and relationships they can find a place where they can belong, do healthy activities and hear the Good News of the Gospel.
Andrea and Sheila also run a Rock Solid club at MySpace once a week and are the leaders of the youth group of their church.
- More staff and more committed volunteers
- Funding for the center
Florence is in central Western Italy and is known for a huge artistic and cultural heritage. It’s a museum in the open air. In Florence we have Paolo Borroni, a young man who loves Jesus and teenagers and is eager to reach out to teenagers in the bigger Florence area with the Good News. He has had a ministry among gipsy kids for a long time, way before he joined YFC Italia.
Paolo runs a Rock Solid club in partnership with a local church (Vigna Vecchia). He is also developing a sports ministry by using a Football Cage, a circular metal structure with a diameter of 7.5 meters. Dismantled it can be transported on a small trailer 3.5 meters in length and 1.8 meters in width. In this cage the teens can play 2 minute matches of soccer, two against two. It is an amazing tool to attract kids, let them play and have fun in safe environment and then share with them our faith.
· Funding for Paolo who would like to come on staff as a full time youthworker
· Development of the Cage ministry
Evangelism & Discipleship
We are committed to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all young people and always seek to do so with urgency, using the most culturally acceptable means. We are further committed to provide a ministry of discipleship for each new believer, and to work in partnership with others who desire to accomplish the same mission.
We are committed to the Word of God as the foundation and final authority for life and ministry. We discipline ourselves to study it diligently, apply it daily, and teach its truth to young people.
We are committed to pray and fast for the salvation of lost young people and for the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit in taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them.
Believing that the Church is the expression of the body of Christ, we are committed to work in partnership with the local church in fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
We are committed to people. We believe that young people, volunteers, board members, ministry partners, staff and their families are important first as individuals, and all are vital in the fulfilment of the mission.
Knowing the size and urgency of the task, we are committed to mobilize all the available resources of young people, adults, prayer and finance to accomplish the mission.
We are committed to a life of integrity through personal and organizational accountability in lifestyle, relationships, finances, ministry management and responsible evangelism.