Italy, Global

ITA01 - Agape Migrant Centre: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: December 18, 2018

Report from BHW Italy Partnership Facilitator Following Visit


Key people:  Todd and Christie Kincaid  

Recent Events

impacting livesSix months ago Andrew Diprose, our New Zealand contact, shifted away from Rome to Sicily so we now had no one there that we knew. I therefore visited to meet the American couple who are now overseeing the work. The days we were visiting there was a teacher’s strike so some people thought their centre would also be closed therefore not as many came as usual, six women in the morning Italian lesson instead of 10–12 and 27 children and adults in the evening instead of about 40. 

The growth of the work is dependent on the USA couple being there and others from outside Italy coming to help with the work. There has not been a wide buy in from Italian Christians to the work. One local church in the area is supportive and one or two people are tutors in the centre but it’s a struggle for the local Christians to get any concept of mission. It is part of their survival mentality in the face of being a distinct minority and the threat of all the refugees. They have helpers from France, the UK and the USA who come from time to time for varying lengths of time as interns. 


Personal Stories

M is a guy from Bangladesh. He came to Europe to get a chance at a better life. First he went to England to study but after two years in London could not afford to stay. He shifted to Germany where he became a follower of Christ. After some time he went to France where he had an uncle and the uncle, on behalf of the family, tried to reconvert him. So he had to move again and found himself in Italy and working with the team. He is an answer to their prayers and having someone from a Muslin background on the team breaks down so many barriers. 

He has been able to develop many friendships that will one-day result in people responding. He has good Italian, French and English as well as Bangla. 

It is important to understand the difference between a migrant and a refugee. This work is focused on migrants however there are many refugees coming as well. They have come to Europe for a better life often paying their way. They arrive destitute and often the victims of violence and abuse. They struggle to make their way in a country and are always looking for a better opportunity somewhere. Italy is not their preferred location and they are trying to move on which makes it very difficult to establish relationships. They are wary and alert for people trying to take advantage of them. They are suspicious of strangers, especially non-Muslim strangers. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

This work grew out of house to house visitation by a New Zealander and an elderly Australian missionary. They would regularly visit the area where migrant Bangaldeshis were living. They saw the need to develop a permanent presence. The Kincaids came about four years ago and saw the potential. There were huge barriers to overcome and as most were Muslims it was not appropriate to invite them to a church. 

Before the centre was available it was very difficult to move past a casual conversation on the street with people. There was nowhere to invite them to meet and people were suspicious about why they were being approached. The team had no presence in the community. Now, it has all changed. 

Now there are regular, every day classes at the centre and hundreds of people come and go through the week. It has been a huge blessing to have the centre. It is a place of peace, warmth, friendship and learning. It creates opportunities to get to know people in a neutral place and build relationships. 

They run Italian classes although the government has opened some classes for Italian which has reduced the demand for that. However, the English classes are proving to be very popular as most people want to learn English. They have classes for women, children and adults. They also teach driving and put on special events around Christian festivals. 

About 85 people are currently in the programmes they run from week to week and there are about 30 on a waiting list. The momentum is building up and it’s putting pressure on the space they have. 

There are many migrant and refugee camps around the city. They are not tent camps but whole blocks of apartments and hotels that have been rented and all the people in them are refugees. These camps create many issues for the local people and the local infrastructure to the point where there is a very strong anti-immigrant movement building. The most recent election saw a right wing, nationalist government installed and it is creating a lot of uncertainty amongst the refugee and migrant communities. 

Seven of the 43 least reached people groups are represented at the centre. The main one is the Shaikh - Bangladesh but they also have Uyghurs - China, Pashtuns – Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jat Sikh – India, Persians – Iran, Arabs from Iraq and Morocco and Somalis. So it is a strategic place in terms of the world coming to them. 


Current Issues and Challenges

There are three families in various stages of movement towards faith in Isa and as they come there will be many challenges for them to overcome in the community. 

The community centre is too small now. They are looking for a larger place to rent for about the same price. They don’t need to be in such a good location now as they have a reputation. 

They need to be able to support their key Bangladeshi staff member. He is the key to opening many doors for them into the community. 


Prayer and Praise Points

More has happened in the last 1½ years than in the previous 20 years in terms of contacting people and seeing people respond. 

While the children’s classes are being run many parents come to wait for their children which creates opportunities to hang out with them and good friendships are developing.  



Todd’s vision is broader than just the current location. He wants to see a number of these hubs around Rome and other European cities. The migrants tend to move, so to be able to connect them as they move would be very beneficial in building a network of MBBs around the continent. 

The original intention of our partnership was to help with the funding of the rent for the centre on a diminishing scale to give time for local churches to begin supporting the work. This has happened to a small degree and about 25% of the required support is coming from local sources.