Editor’s Note: Charlie and Shannon Worthy are the featured missionaries on Day 6 (Dec. 4) of the Week of Prayer for International Missions (Nov. 29-Dec. 6). The Worthys have strong ties to Tennessee with family in both West and Middle Tennessee. Charlie Worthy is a graduate of Union University in Jackson. They worked closely with Tennessee Baptists during a partnership with IMB personnel from 2010-2017. Two of their four children are attending a Tennessee Baptist university this fall — Micah at Carson-Newman in Jefferson City and Emma at Union in Jackson. They are currently on stateside assignment and will be living in the Woman’s Missionary Union missions house on the property of the Missions Mobilization Center in Mount Juliet until next summer when they return to the field.
IMB News Office
MOUNT JULIET — The Worthy family recognizes the importance of developing relationships in the Italian culture. For more than 17 years, Tennesseans Charlie and Shannon Worthy have invested their lives and ministry in Italy as IMB missionaries.
They describe the spiritual climate of Italy as ambivalent towards religion. Italians are warm, loving and open people; however, most don’t know they need Jesus as Savior. Evangelical Christians in Italy number roughly 1 percent, and most Italians are nominal Catholics at best.
By immersing themselves fully in Italian culture, the Worthy family has made connections on a deep, personal level. As they live life as an American-Italian family in Italy, the Worthys are pushing back the darkness and bringing the hope of the gospel to those who don’t yet know Jesus.
As church planters, the Worthys’ work bridges the two worlds of local Italian pastors and U.S. churches. Working alongside local and U.S. partners, they leverage their roles to make strategic connections that bring the gospel to areas of Italy with little to no evangelical witness.
Whether leading a group of students, a group of Baptist state convention executives or a church group, they strategically place these partnering groups in areas of Italy where the church does not exist. These partners engage with the people of Italy and create relationships that impact the kingdom for eternity.
Additionally, finding opportunities for volunteers to serve through their local partners is key in developing long-term partnerships both locally and globally.
Worthy explained that they have seen much fruit over the years through these partnerships.
“Partnering alongside nationals is the bedrock of our ministry here,” Worthy said.
“Coming alongside these fellow laborers will get the gospel to those who need to hear it faster than if we went at it alone.”
“These local believers are the ones who will be here long after we’re gone. The Lord has called us to be a guest in their home. Partnering with them will always be the best method to plant churches and disciple believers.”
Ultimately, because of Charlie and Shannon’s connection to Southern Baptists in the U.S. and because of their deep understanding of Italian culture, they are able to understand how to best utilize both partnerships in advancing the gospel. They are essential to the ministry of the Worthy family in Italy.
The Worthys worked closely with Tennessee Baptists during a partnership that ended three years ago.
“Tennessee Baptists have always been amazing partners in our gospel witness in Italy,” Worthy noted. “Through the partnership we saw many folks impacted across the country. There are still several churches continuing to engage the Italians.
“One of the churches that Tennessee Baptists help plant is now re-producing other churches. In fact this church saw several people come to Christ even in the pandemic,” the missionary said.
He noted that Tennessee “has always been like a home for us and we are truly blessed to be able to spend this furlough in the WMU house in Mount Juliet. It has been a joy to connect with so many churches across the state and we look forward to connecting with so many more through the first part of next year,” Charlie added.
Worthy is appreciative of the support of Tennessee and Southern Baptists through their support of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program.
“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is critical to what we do,” Worthy said. “The offering supports us so we can focus on the local work here in Italy and not have to be encumbered with consistently raising funds back in the United States. The LMCO allows us to have a house to live in, a car to drive, and our healthcare provided so that we can concentrate on the ministry and our local partners.”
“We are grateful for Southern Baptists, and we are grateful and honored to be Southern Baptists.”
— B&R editor Lonnie Wilkey contributed to this article.