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Last Edited: 17 January 2020


Zach and Naomi Baliva

Zach's Story

I was born and raised in Illinois and attended a church where I learned stories from the Bible. Around age 15, I grew frustrated and unsatisfied by my faith. While I knew some Bible stories, I felt something significant was missing. I found that missing piece when I finally heard a clear explanation of the gospel from people who practiced authentic prayer and lived out their faith in community. I understood that a personal relationship with Christ was available to me, and I started following Him in a more meaningful way.

I studied filmmaking at Columbia College in Chicago, where I met my wife, Naomi. We moved to California, and I worked at Warner Brothers supporting the producers of ER and the West Wing. After a series of personal hardships, we started re-evaluating life and sensed God calling us to something else.

Naomi, who served in the US Navy in Italy, started investigating missions, and we eventually served with a church planting team in Rome from 2011-2013. During that time, I developed a passion for sharing Christ with the Italians I was meeting who, like me, knew something about the Bible but had never fully grasped the problem of sin, the message of salvation, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as our mediator and savior.

That experience changed our lives as we saw the deep need for the gospel among Italians, refugees, and human trafficking victims. We returned to the US in 2013, but our desire to reach Italy with the gospel never left. We joined TEAM in 2018 to work with their ministry initiatives in Northern Italy.

Naomi's Story

Since the age of 5, I knew I wanted to be a missionary AND make films/ TV shows though I was at a loss for how God might bring these two passions together. After high school, I joined the US Navy and was providentially stationed in Sardinia, Italy. There, God gave me a heart for the Italian people.

When I met Zach, he was studying film after having prayed about going to Bible college. I had prayed about going to film school, but God had led me to Moody Bible Institute. We had much to talk about including art, faith, and Italy. Zach and I spent the first 5 years of our marriage working in the film/TV industry in California before God led us to an opportunity to share the gospel for two years in Rome, Italy. As we were raising support, God blessed us with the birth of our son, Anthony!

After our term, we returned to the US, not sure if He’d have us go back as missionaries, but our hearts have been forever changed by the love He has given us for the Italian people, and His goodness has compelled us to return to Italy long-term. We are grateful for the relational way that TEAM works and so glad to join them in Italy to proclaim the good news by sharing our lives with the Italians. Also, it seems God is opening the door to use our background in film to help equip the churches and reach Italians!


Zach (husband), Naomi (wife), Child: Anthony 2/10/10

Ministry Focus:

We work to equip Italians to bring the gospel to Italy, and we do that by supporting Italian pastors, discipling believers, planting churches, and living authentic lives in a community that attracts others. We’re also looking to produce mainstream film projects with redemptive themes and much-needed Italian language video and media content for use in churches and study groups.

The People:

Very few Italians attend church more than three times a year, including for weddings and funerals. Most have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel.

Primary Prayer Request:

Many are surprised to learn that Italy is hard soil and bringing the gospel to Italians takes time. Pray for perseverance and opportunity. Pray for more workers, and for American churches to catch the vision for church planting in Europe.