Amelio A. Giannetta, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among European Affinity Peoples in Italy and earlier among European and American Affinity Peoples in Brazil, died Aug. 25, 2019. He was 94.
Giannetta was born Feb. 21, 1925, in Bisaccia, Italy. After his mother died, he grew up in the Baptist Children’s Home in Rome. He first met Lidia Acacia of Rome when his choir sang in her church. He left Italy at 21, but he never forgot Lidia and brought her to America. They were married in 1949 and later became U.S. citizens.
He earned the Bachelor of Arts from Maria Mazzini Teacher’s College, Rome; the Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi College, Clinton; the Bachelor of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; and the Master of Theology from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary), then in Berkeley, Calif.
He served from 1953 to 1960 as a missionary with the Southern Baptist Home (now North American) Mission Board in San Francisco, where he broadcast the gospel to Italians living across the Bay Area.
The Giannettas were appointed as IMB missionaries to Brazil on June 9, 1960. They went to Campinas, Brazil, to work among Italians in São Paulo state, but Giannetta soon moved into broader leadership as state secretary of evangelism. They later moved to São Paulo, where he was executive secretary of the board of evangelism of the Brazilian Baptist Convention. He coordinated mass evangelism, personal evangelism and church growth departments and was responsible for the general planning of evangelistic efforts in Brazil, including preparation of evangelistic literature.
He also was involved in national, area, and worldwide crusades and campaigns and in Brazilian Baptist radio and television ministries on the state and national levels
In a newsletter from Brazil in April 1964, Giannetta wrote, “There are many joys in life, but I do not know of anything so thrilling as leading a man to Jesus; it is for this reason that we are happy in the Lord’s service and give thanks to God and to you. Yes, to God and to you, because the winning of souls is not the work of any single person, but the result of a cooperative effort of the people of God with God Himself. Let me tell you a story.
“Two Brazilians had a burden for a lame man who was lost. They borrowed my car, bought with mission money, and brought him to a Baptist church, built by the labor and sacrifice of missionaries and nationals. A missionary, himself won to Christ and educated with mission money in a Baptist orphanage in Rome, Italy, preached the gospel. God touched the heart of the lame man and he accepted Christ. Two friends carried him to the front and a counselor helped him.”
After serving a temporary assignment in Italy from 1979 to 1980, the Giannettas transferred to Rome in 1981. As a field evangelist, Giannetta conducted church-growth seminars and evangelistic meetings and served as revival preacher in Italian churches.
The Giannettas retired Aug. 1, 1990, after serving almost 29 years as missionaries. In recent years, they had been living in Taylor Mill, Ky. Lidia died July 26, 2018.
Giannetta is survived by his son, Roberto Giannetta; daughters, Graziella Giannetta and Rosanne (Peter) Shockey; and four grandchildren.
Mary Jane Welch writes about missions and has edited missions publications and websites.