|STUDENT: Roberto Rossi, Student Body President|
|SUMMER ASSIGNMENT: Phoenix United Reformed Church; Phoenix, AZ|
|FAMILY: Wife, Carrie; children: Matteo (8), Lydia (6)|
|Roberto Rossi’s Italian Catholic background and a two-year teaching stint in the Ukraine provide unique cultural perspectives that contribute to his evangelistic passion.|
“Roberto genuinely loves Christ and has a burden for Christ’s flock,” says Rev. Phil Grotenhuis, pastor of Phoenix United Reformed Church where Rossi served a summer internship. “He has great interpersonal skills, is approachable, theologically sound, self-consciously confessional, and balanced in person and perspective. One of his greatest attributes is his missional heart.”
Rossi was not raised in a Christian home, but came to faith later in life after hearing the gospel at Thorn Creek Reformed Church in South Holland. He immediately developed a passion for full time Christian ministry. That passion led him to Moody Bible Institute and eventually to Mid-America Reformed Seminary, although his seminary studies have been interspersed with mission and ministry experiences.
Roberto, you first enrolled at Mid-America in 2003, but left shortly thereafter to do mission work in the Ukraine. What led to your decision to become a missionary?
My wife and I went to Moody Bible Institute in 1999 with the intent to serve the Lord in foreign missions. After graduating from Moody Bible Institute in 2003, I enrolled at Mid-America Reformed Seminary and studied Greek. After a short stint at Mid-America, we left seminary and pursued mission work in Ukraine. Since my conversion, the Lord developed in me a passion for the gospel and the proclamation of it. Meanwhile, I’ve always been interested in culture and languages. So, we moved to Kyiv, Ukraine, and lived there for two years. My work involved learning Ukrainian, evangelizing the lost, and teaching at a local church.
When and why did you return to the States and what have you been doing since then?
In 2007, we returned home because of medical issues, and I had gone through some changes in my theological convictions, embracing covenant theology while serving in Ukraine. I worked in youth ministry at Crete Reformed Church (Crete, IL) for a few years and attended Mid-America part-time. My family recently transitioned into the URC, however, and we are members at Oak Glen URC in Lansing. We are thankful to God for our new church family. In the beginning of summer, I sustained my licensure to exhort in the URC and am under the supervision of Oak Glen’s consistory. Rev. John Vermeer and the Oak Glen elders have encouraged me to pursue full-time studies at the Seminary this year.
What was involved in your summer assignment at Phoenix URC?
My internship focused almost entirely on sermon preparation and delivery, along with elder visitation and getting to know members of the congregation. I was looking for an internship that would allow me get as much pulpit experience as possible. This is one aspect of the ministry that I lacked experience in. The internship was a great blessing. The people were encouraging and loving, and the council was also very supportive and provided me good feedback.
How and where would you like to serve Christ after your anticipated graduation in 2013?
Lord willing, I would love to plant confessionally reformed churches. We are not sold on any particular geographical location. We want to be obedient to the Lord’s calling, and so this could mean planting churches domestically or internationally.
“We as ‘Phoenecians’ commend Roberto Rossi highly,” says Rev. Grotenhuis, “looking forward to his further refinement at Mid-America. But more than that, we give thanks for Mid-America’s continued commitment to training pastors for the ministry—not only for the sake of Christ’s flock, but also for the harvest of the nations.”