Pastor / Church Planter - Catania, Italy
After observing the gospel's power for salvation in the life of his mother, Giuseppe was later converted and brought to an experiential knowledge of the mercy and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ. Some time after his conversion he became very involved in evangelism and teaching, and eventually became an elder in his congregation. He is now leading a group of believers in a church plant in Catania, Italy.
Testimony of Conversion
The Lord called me to salvation when I was 18 years old. Until then I did not care about God. Like most Italians, my entire family was Catholic. Because of this I was baptized when I was a baby and took Holy Communion as a child (even though I was usually absent from the catechism classes). I grew up thinking that God was just “something” that really did not pertain to me. I was considered a leader by my friends and they respected and admired me because I always entertained them. I was not a really bad kid, but at the same time I was not a good example to others. My great passion was going to clubs and staying up all night with my friends.
I had a very good relationship with my mother until she was converted to Christ. From that very moment she became an enemy to me. She told me about the importance of having my sins forgiven by God and she also encouraged me to give my life to Him. Unlike before, late at night she waited for me to get home, and that annoyed me. My mother was really changed. God was in everything she did or spoke, but in my opinion this God had destroyed our relationship. She was persistent with me, but that just irritated me more. She would always leave me little pieces of paper with some verses from the Bible written on them. I felt like a tormented man!
Finally, one day I decided to go to church in order to make my mother happy and avoid any more problems with her. Obviously, I did that secretly without saying anything to my friends about it. I did not like the Christian meetings which my mother frequented nor the people, but nonetheless, I was received with love.
In spite of this, I continued to live my sinful life unaware that God had begun His work within my heart. I kept enjoying my lifestyle without thinking of God or paying attention to my mother except for when I returned home late at night or in the early hours of the morning. Those were the worst moments. In the silence of my room, the things that I had heard in the church rumbled in my mind and I remembered the people’s loving countenances, my mother’s cries, and the quarrels between her and my father who wanted her to leave this religious group that had filled her mind with so many ridiculous things. I was overwhelmed by a sense of guilt like I had never known before. I got to the point of falling asleep while listening to music with headphones at full volume in order to stifle all these thoughts.
One day, I accompanied the church’s youth group on a trip with other believers in the region. Someone preached on the redemptive work of God on behalf of sinners and said that there was no other way to receive His forgiveness but by acknowledging oneself as a lost sinner. He also told us that nothing could ever fill our lives except Christ! I was shocked because I felt as though the words of the preacher were directed particularly to me. It seemed that the man knew me and I wondered how he could know all these things about me. I had lived my life laughing, but at that moment I wept deeply. I felt crushed by my sins. Then the preacher came over to me and we spoke for a long time. The long conversation was really not necessary because I had already realized my sinful state and I desired nothing but the forgiveness of Jesus. His grace removed the burden from my heart and I tasted the sweet joy of His forgiveness.
Call to Ministry
A few years after my conversion, I began to be engaged in an evangelistic ministry as well as in shepherding young people in my church. At that time I worked in the construction industry, but I devoted all my free time to my church and to my spiritual training. My wife Viviana and I, were not yet married, but we attended together a Bible school in Rome and also participated in several classes that were offered in various parts of Italy. We were both very dedicated to evangelism, and even went abroad to do mission trips when our work allowed us. Our desire and passion to serve the Lord increased more and more, and so our pastor encouraged us to consider entering into full-time ministry.
After much praying, in 1996, we began to consecrate ourselves fully to the ministry. In 1999, Viviana and I got married and we moved to a town where we ministered specifically to the youth of the church. We also organized other Christian meetings. Some years later, we began to dedicate more and more time to helping with marriage counseling.
For eight years, until 2013, we worked at the Accademia Teologica (Theological Academy) and I had the opportunity to attend all the classes and courses. Our ministry also included our local church where I was an elder and also devoted myself to doing evangelism in the little town of Pennisi, where the academy is located. We integrated very well into the community among the people of Pennisi, and from the beginning they welcomed us respectfully and cordially, even though they seemed initially quite suspicious because of our faith. After some time the Lord opened several doors to preach His Word to many people. We also worked in the schools where our children attended, helping with some projects in order to create relationships with the teachers and with the parents of the students.