When Stan & Annamaria Goertzen arrived in 1999 there were only a little over 1,500 foreigners living in the city. Today that number has increased to over 14,000 with the majority from Romania, Albania, Morocco, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh. Most of the evangelical churches are largely ethnic in make-up or attract Italians from the south.
TEAM’s first missionaries arrived in Forlì in 1983 and began a Bible study with a Christian family who lived across the street. Eventually this Bible study became a small church and in 2003, after 20 years and the efforts of 7 missionary units, including us, the church became autonomous, though most of its members were Romanian, with only a handful of Italians. The TEAM church was the first evangelical church in the city; today there are 5 other small evangelical churches, but few local Italian believers among them. After transitioning the church to local leadership, the Goertzens remained in the city in an effort to begin a new church plant, once again targeting Italians. Their vision is to see a church birthed in the city which is capable of reaching both Forlivesi and foreigners with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Stan & Annamaria Goertzen seek to love people as Christ does and to demonstrate this love both in their personal relationships and through activities and programs that meet needs and build a foundation of trust and credibility, essential to the proclamation of the gospel. It was for this purpose that they founded Path of Hope, a non-profit association which seeks to bring hope through educative, recreational and spiritual activities such as a children’s day camp in the summer, a children’s English club, adult English lessons, occasional concerts and a Sunday evening meeting for believers and seekers. Through the association they seek to be a presence in society which communicates both through deeds and words the goodness and grace of God so that by His grace and the working of the Spirit people might come to see their need, trust in God’s provision and enter his Kingdom, identifying themselves with Jesus and his people in a community of faith.