After many years working in the film industry (and attending Reality LA), Zach and Naomi left Los Angeles in 2008 and eventually joined a church plant in Rome from 2011 to 2013. They have now returned to Mestre, the mainland of Venice, to serve in a small but growing church — the only gospel community they know of in all of Venice.
Their primary ministry is in the areas of church planting, discipleship, leadership development, and evangelism. Naomi recently completed a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship from Moody Theological Seminary and is studying trauma care. She plans to use these skills to counsel and assist missionaries, Italians, refugees, and other hurting people in Italy and beyond. The Balivas will also be assisting an Italian filmmaker in creating high-quality, mainstream, narrative and documentary films with redemptive themes that share gospel truth. They are also developing a free Italian language video and media library that other pastors, churches, and missionaries can use throughout the country.
Why is this work so important? And why is Italy still a mission field? Most Italians have rejected the spiritual “answers” their culture presents, but they remain hungry for the truth. It’s hard to find a gospel-centered church there, and most Italian pastors are unpaid and bi-vocational. Italy is largely post-Catholic and postmodern with many Italians turning to secularism, pluralism, new age, and other world views. But God is moving. His church in Italy is growing. Pastors, believers, missionaries, and movements are uniting like never before. New tools and resources are becoming available for what lies ahead…yet there is much work to be done. The Baliva’s prayer is that their ministry will have a lasting impact by bringing a message of hope and truth to Italy.
If you’d like to partner with the Balivas in their ministry in Italy, please visit their donor portal.
- Pray many Italians will be aware of their need for salvation and see Christ as the only way. May there be renewal and rebirth in what has become a dark nation.
- Pray for Zach and Naomi’s son, Anthony, to transition well and make new friends, for him to grasp his role in the ministry, and for the whole family to advance in their language skills.
- Pray for a deep understanding of culture and how to minister effectively and for openness and receptivity in what has been described as one of the most gospel-resistant parts of Italy. Pray for Italian believers, who often face opposition from friends and family. May they desire to reach those around them with the truth they know, and may God fill them with his spirit and make them bold and effective disciples.
- Pray God will call more gospel workers to Italy, and pray that those already there will walk in faith and obedience, strengthened by and dependent on God alone.