SCBO Begins Partnership with Italy

SCBO Begins Partnership with Italy

PHOTO ABOVE: Members of the Ohio-Italy Partnership Vision Team. Not pictured is Duane Floro, SCBO Missions Mobilization and Support Team Leader.

Lecce, Italy is one of five major cities in Puglia Providence,which is in need of a gospel influence.

Italy is a land rich in beauty, culture, cuisine and history, drawing visitors from around the globe. However, despite all it has to offer, Italy is also a land in deep need. Of the more than 60 million people who call Italy home, less than one percent of the population are evangelical believers. 

A new five-year partnership between SCBO and southern Italy is hoping to address this need while giving Ohio churches the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with the Italian people. 

Recently, a group from SCBO traveled to southern Italy on a vision trip. The group included Duane Floro, SCBO Mission Mobilization and Support Team Leader, his daughter, Lauren Floro, Stephen Long, Church Planting Catalyst - Northwest Ohio Baptist Association, and his wife, April Long. 

The group met with IMB missionaries to Italy, including one missionary with roots at Dublin Baptist Church in the Columbus, Ohio area. "He has a real vision for the southern part of Italy," said Duane Floro. 

To help facilitate the work in Italy, the country has been divided into three ministry areas. Ohio Baptists are partnering in the Puglia Providence in southern Italy with focus on the cities of Bari, Lecce, Brindisi, Taranto, and Foggia. Tennessee Baptists and Missouri Baptists are working in central Italy and northern Italy, respectively. 

Steve and April Long are the point people for the Ohio-Italy Partnership. Their involvement grew out of April's previous mission trip to Italy. "She has always had a burden to go back," said Steve Long. "April has never forgotten the difficulty of the work of the missionaries and the need for the growth of the evangelical church in Italy." 

The entire Ohio team saw the difficulty of the work and need for growth during their vision trip, according to Steve Long. "Our recent trip helped bring to life what we were told about the need for the evangelical work in Italy. This really came home when we met Pastor Tomas in Lecce. Tomas pastors a small congregation of about 30-40 just outside the city of Lecce. Tomas said he knows of other believers in other towns in his region but no other churches. His desire is to gather these believers and to start discipleship groups that would grow into churches in these towns." 

Foggia, Italy is part of Puglia Providence where 2 million people live. Only one percent of the population are evangelical Christians. 

Bari, Italy is one of the five cities recently visited by the Ohio-Italy Partnership Vision Team. 

To help reach this area of Italy, Ohio Baptists are looking for five "Champion Churches" to adopt one of the five main towns in the region. "The churches would partner with local evangelical churches to assist them in their missional effort of starting new groups for the purpose of evangelism and discipleship," said Steve Long. "In some cases it would be to help a church to go into a new area to begin a brand new work. This could be done via prayer walking, evangelistic outreach events, English classes, choir tour, etc." 

The partnership is also looking for other churches to come along side the "Champion Churches" to provide prayer support and resources, as well as individuals who are willing to go to Italy. 

Duane Floro sees great potential for Ohio churches to impact Italy. "As I went from town to town, met with the people, heard the heart of the believers there, I was drawn to see how God might use Ohio Baptists to be on mission throughout this region of Italy," said Floro. "We need others to step up to take the good news to the ends of the earth. May Ohio Baptists be on mission." 

A call to Ohio churches to take on missions in Italy is seen through the challenging work of Pastor Tomas in Lecce, according to Steve Long. "One small church, one pastor trying to gather believers in a region of two million people into discipleship groups to become churches. That sounds like New Testament work and a worthy mission to be a part of. This picture of Lecce is repeated in Bari and Taranto and Brindisi and Foggia. The harvest is plentiful." 

For more information about the Ohio-Italy partnership, please contact Steve Long at or Duane Floro at 

 -- Stephanie Heading

The beauty of Italy hides the fact that the nation is in dire need of the gospel, which Ohio Baptists hope to help provide in a new five-year partnership with southern Italy.