As the son of TEAM missionaries Henry & Marion Goertzen, I had the privilege and challenge of growing up in India, where I attended elementary school for 4 years in Nashik, one of the holiest cities for Hindus, and then spent one year in the north at Woodstock School some 6,500 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Himalayas on a hill known as the “Queen of the Hills.” My parents later moved to Trinidad to begin a ministry there and during those years I attended and graduated from Christiansen Academy, a TEAM-run boarding school in Venezuela near the Colombian border.
After high school I attended Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta and graduated with a degree in theology. God directed my steps towards Italy through the influence of Murray & Florence Carter, TEAM missionaries who I had known from India and who were TEAM’s first missionaries to Italy. I arrived in Italy on May 12, 1988, gave my testimony that evening in the small church in Ravenna and met my wife-to-be, Annamaria who was active in the church. We were married on August 1, 1992 and are the proud and sometimes tired parents of 3 active, teenage boys.
As an Italian growing up in northern Italy, I was raised in the Catholic church. After my parents separated and we moved back to my home town of Ravenna, I met a family of evangelical missionaries. Through their influence I attended a camp where I was struck by the relationship the other young people had with God: personal and real. I asked the missionary lady how I could have the same kind of relationship with God and she led me to place my faith in Jesus Christ. On returning home I told my mother that “I had converted to Jesus.” She couldn’t understand but allowed me to attend the small evangelical church on the outskirts of town. That Christmas she came to see me and my brother and sister perform in the Christmas play. She heard the gospel for the first time and asked the missionary pastor if he could do a Bible study with her. After about a year of studying the Bible with him, she trusted her life to Jesus. I helped in the church with the children and by playing the guitar during the services.
In 1988 I attended an O.M. conference in Belgium with hundreds of other Christian young people from all over Europe. Later that summer I went to Perugia with O.M. to share the gospel with Muslims and ran into Stan, who was studying Italian there (we had previously met in the Ravenna church). This short term missions experience really challenged me so that I began to prepare for missionary service by taking Bible correspondence courses through the Bible Institute in Rome.
Stan and I were married in Ravenna on August 1, 1992 and we now have 3 teenage sons: Samuel, James and John.
Stan (husband), Annamaria (wife), Children: Samuel, James, John
TEAM’s first missionaries arrived in Forl? 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, we remained in the city in an effort to begin a new church plant, once again targeting Italians. Our 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.
We seek to love people as Christ does and to demonstrate this love both in our 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 we 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 we 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.
Forl? is a city of nearly 120,000 people that lies on an ancient Roman road constructed over 100 years before the birth of Christ connecting the city of Milan in the northwest with the Adriatic Sea just 30 kilometres further down the road. It is best known as the city of Benito Mussolini, who was born in a nearby town. When we 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.
Primary Prayer Request:
Beginning October 7th we are beginning a series of meetings at the English Connections centre based on the message of the parable of the “prodigal son”. Pray that people will come and for God’s Spirit to draw seekers to the Saviour.