We received word yesterday that the city of Milan, Italy is actively seeking to prevent Punto Lode (“Point of Praise”), our sister church, from meeting for corporate worship in their building. Last Sunday morning police came to Punto Lode and threatened “an eminent closure of the building.”
Punto Lode is a vibrant, gospel preaching church of several hundred people that is over 30 years old. We have supported Sam and Joan Fiore in the planting of Punto Lode since the beginning. While we know persecution happens every day in this world, this one hits home.
The legal basis for this maneuver is a city zoning law passed in early 2015. The city has claimed the right to determine what is an authorized place of worship. They have refused to authorize Punto Lode from using their building, which they own, for religious purposes.
We know what this is: persecution. It is no coincidence that last Sunday our passage of Scripture included Jesus’ words from John 16:33,
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
We are praying that the city would intervene, come to their senses, and allow Punto Lode to continue to worship. We know that God may choose to advance his gospel through hostility, and so we also are praying that he would grant the believers in Milan steadfast faith in him whatever he has ordained.
We can learn from our brothers and sisters facing this trial. This is persecution in a modern, Western nation that espouses religious freedom. Fortunately, this attack is not in line with the Italian constitution which makes provision for freedom of religion. Unfortunately, the powers that be in Milan are not friendly to non-Catholic churches. The Italian courts will have to engage at some point.
Our recourse is a greater Judge, and I would urge you to petition him on behalf of the believers in Milan enduring this trial.
Here are a few photos of the building in question from our trip last year to encourage Punto Lode: