MISSIONARIES IN SICILY
Giuseppe was born and raised in Castelbuono Sicily (province of Palermo) in a Catholic family. He went to church only for holidays, baptisms etc. until his First Communion when the Priest told him that he was now a soldier for Christ. He never set foot in the church again because he had no desire to hear about a God who was going to punish him by sending him to hell.
He was afraid of death and he was scared of the Christ that was up on the crucifix. When he was 19, the first two believers that told him about the gospel befriended him. He kept listening to them until he ventured into a small meeting room in his hometown where people there studied the Bible and who could explain it to him.
He became a regular attendee but still had doubts about what the missionaries were teaching. One night, on his way home after getting into a fight with his 2 best friends he decided to find out for himself whether or not what the missionaries were saying was the truth. He found a Bible that his father had brought home from Germany one Christmas and began reading it for himself. The Holy Spirit spoke to his heart and he broke down crying and told God that if He was whom the Bible said he was that he wanted him to take over his life because he couldn’t go on any longer the way he was living.
In a split second God came into his heart and his life was changed. So now what? He asked. He and his 2 buddies decided that they would have to be the ones to tell the others in their town that they had found the truth and thus started his quest to evangelize his countrymen. Two years after he was saved he went to study in Rome at the Italian Bible Institute; 1978-1980.
Pennie was born and raised in Troy Michigan into a very devout Baptist home. Her parents had only been saved a few years before she was born but knew that the place to be was in church whenever the doors were open. So she grew up at the Troy Baptist Church and at 11 years of age was led to the Lord by her best friend after Sunday school class one Sunday. Her life was different from that day forward. She became involved in her youth group, worked along side her mother teaching Sunday school classes, and always knew that God was going to lead her into some kind of full time Christian ministry.
Her parents took her and her 2 brothers and older sister to visit missionaries in both Haiti and Bonaire when she was in high school. God used that experience to speak to her heart and direct her to study at Cedarville College in Ohio (1973-1977) preparing to work full time as a missionary. She left Michigan to go work at the Italian Bible Institute in Rome as a short-term secretary. (1979-1981)
After graduating from IBI, Giuseppe was called by one of the same missionary’s who was involved in leading him to the Lord to help plant a church in Milazzo in the province of Messina (1980). They have been members of Woodside Bible Church in Troy Michigan from 1981-present. From 1986-1988 they worked in evangelistic outreaches and planted a house church in the province of Modena. From 1988-2005 lived and worked in Michigan during which time they were both involved in various ministries in their home church and participated in several short term mission trips. In 2005 -2009 worked in Sicily in evangelism and church planting with the Aurora Missions. And in late 2010 they began their partnered with Italy for Christ, which has its headquarters in Rome and Georgia in the US and continues to partner with IFC. In 2012 partnered with an Italian organization called ELIM (Evangelism through Working with International Ministries).
Some of the most recent events that have been used to reach out to the people in Sicily: A 150+ family and friends came to a Karate demonstration and saw the gospel explained through a drama given by a group of American college students. 80+ friends and neighbors enjoyed a free gospel concert given by an American singer/writer from Tennessee. They hold monthly pizza and movie nights for the family held at the local church. They hosted 2 short term teams from MI for a week long VBS and drama outreach program in the city of Acireale with Marc Eckel of Splat Ministries who came from Indiana and through the use of art was able to share his love and give his testimony to Jesus Christ in 7 different towns in 7 nights.
They are partnering with the naval base chapel and doing bilingual events in the Catania/Messina provinces. They participate with an American community choir and going to Catholic churches to sing and testify of Christ’s love. They are involved in multiple youth outreaches designed to share the gospel with unsaved high school students, and in 2011 moved to a new area: the town of Belpasso (province of Catania) evangelizing and helping local churches in bilingual outreaches to both the Italian and American communities.
They hold community outreaches working along side Americans and Italians in a Catholic orphanage and Senior Citizen home; hand out Tract distributions door to door in weekly town markets; giving away gift bags and literature for free during the Carnival in Acireale; hold Men’s retreats, Women’s retreats, Teen retreats; and do translating English speaking during church services.
Giuseppe and Pennie are married thirty years.
Three grown children of whom we are extremely thankful and very blessed with the children God has given to us. All three live in Michigan and within driving distance of each other. All three are involved in church ministries…and for this we thank God!
• Joshua is married to Rachel and daddy to Emery Daniella (3 yrs. old) and new arrival Ashland Joshua is now part of their family. Josh works full time at Northridge Church in Novi MI where he is Worship Arts director, for 3 main services, Middle and High School, and 2 satellite campuses. Rachel works part time in the ER at Children’s Hospital in Detroit, is involved with MOPS and stays at home with Emery.
• Cristina finished her 5-year commitment in the US Navy where she was a Master at Arms and a handler for a bomb-sniffing dog stationed at Sigonella Sicily. She is back in Michigan going to school full time learning American Sign Language. She is also involved at our home church with the middle school, Light House for College age and a new church plant in Detroit, near Wayne State University. She was accepted into the Macomb County Police Academy and has finished her training and is employed in Traverse City Michigan as a Law Enforcement Officer.
• Benjamin is married to Aly. Ben works full time at a secular job where he is night shift supervisor. He is involved at our home church with the praise and worship team as their drummer. He is an avid cyclist and has the gift of encouragement and has had many opportunities to reach out to the youth in this area. Aly is finishing up her studies at Oakland University and works as babysitter for a couple of families in the area. She will begin student teaching next fall.
BOLDLY PROCLAIMING ROMANS 1:16-17:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”