Our first Video Update ever

Mr. and Mrs. WhitmanYou’re probably thinking: “What are you talking about??  You just sent one the other day!

Funny how that works out…
Wednesday I worked for two hours on this video report, then the earthquake happened.

So you received a second video update before the first one.

In this video we share what is going on in our family and ministry life, plans for the near future and important prayer requests.

We hope you enjoy it!

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When Jesus Didn’t Pray for the Harvest

Umbrian countryside

Umbrian harvest

“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few…”

The Lord has been pounding this verse into my heart lately. As a missionary, but mostly just as a follower or Jesus Christ, I daily feel the burden and the frustration for the predicament of the lost people around me. I try to share with everybody around me, from my four year old to the cashier at the grocery store. Yet so far, with the majority of them it seems I hit a wall.

Strangely, in what is probably Jesus’ most famous quote on evangelism, Jesus does not put the evangelistic priority on praying for the lost.

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:38 ESV)

Jesus makes some very interesting points about the harvest:
1. There is already a harvest. The seed has already been sown by God himself.
2. There is a shortage of laborers.
3. We are to pray earnestly to the Lord who already sowed and grew a harvest out there.
4. We are to pray specifically for the Lord to send out laborers into his harvest.

Jesus confirms this in John 4:35 when he affirms:
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

So, what stands between us and the harvest?
Prayer and laborers. And maybe even more specifically, prayer FOR laborers!

Are we to pray for laborers from another country or do we need to pray that God make laborers out of the Italian believers?
The answer is…yes.
Nevertheless, I am certain that the bulk of the work will have to be done by Italians, who are committed to reaping a harvest in their families, in their schools, at their jobs.

Our job has never been clearer: to Equip the Italian Church of the Next Generation to Reach the World for Christ.

Recently a young man in our church, exclaimed to me: “You’re right! Ever since you taught me that we are to always be ready to give an answer (I Peter 3:15), I have more opportunities to share Christ than I can handle!”.

I confess that I am not much of a street evangelist. I don’t love going door to door. But God gives me more opportunities to share Christ than I have time to tell you about. Every week someone somewhere is asking me about my faith in Christ.

People are asking the believers here in our church about their faith too…so we better be ready to help them give an answer!

Here are the outreach opportunities I’m most excited about at the moment:

Radio Outreach - Foligno

Radio Outreach – Foligno

1. A series of outreach events with the contacts from our Radio and TV ministries in Umbria: the Lake area (April 12th), Foligno (April 19th), Terni (May 24th) and Perugia (June 7th). So far the response has been overwhelming, with visitors from as far away as Tuscany!  Several of our church members helped out with this event.
2. I have had the opportunity to preach some very evangelistic messages on Sunday from First Thessalonians (about 40% or more of our church attenders are yet to make a profession).
3. We have been able to nurture several relationships with unbelievers and share the Gospel with them. In particular, we have been developing a relationship with the parents of one of Noah’s classmates from school.
4. We are working more diligently at training laborers and leaders in our church, including deacons and future pastors.
5. In June we have two major outreach events that involved the entire church body: our annual Soccer Outreach Tournament and Vacation Bible School.

The most important thing in the world you can be doing for Italy right now is praying.

As E.M. Bounds puts it in his classic work on prayer:
“On earth [Christ] lived and prayed and died for men. His life, his death and his exaltation in heaven all plead for men.
Is there any work, higher work for the disciple to do than his Lord did?
Is there any loftier employment, more honorable, more divine, than to pray for men?
To take their woes, their sins, and their perils before God; to be one with Christ?
To break the slavery which binds them, the hell which holds them and lifts them to immortality and eternal life?”

Would you pray for us and with us, that God will send his laborers into his harvest??

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What is your Legacy?

 

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Maria Teresa de Giustina Standridge, one of the most godly women I have ever met. People from all over Italy gathered in a suburb of Rome, in a small meeting hall (small for American standards and without air conditioning) in the early afternoon to pay our respects. There was standing room only, and the service lasted over an hour and a half. I was sweating in places of my body I didn’t know existed!

Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge

Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge

Why would people go to such measures to be there in such conditions?  Simply put, because Maria Teresa left us a legacy. If there had been more time (and more chairs and air conditioning), almost everyone there would have had memories to share about her impact in their lives.

My debt toward her had many dimensions. Being a senior missionary with her husband Bill, my parents admired their ministry and family life enough to want to emulate them.  When our family was young, we would drive two hours south to Rome to celebrate Thanksgiving with them.  I don’t remember the food, but I remember the love.  Ironically, Maria Teresa was Italian, but she adapted well to her husband’s traditions learning, among other things, to make and train others in the great art of apple pie!

Every time I saw her, she would run up to me with a big smile to give me a hug (American) and a kiss (Italian) and remind me that she was my Italian grandmother.  I always felt honored to be considered such, especially from a woman who was sought all over Italy for women’s conferences, for her counsel, books, articles and translations (including the excellent MacArthur Study Bible, one of its kind) along with her husband.  Of course, I get the feeling that she said that to many other children…she was just that kind of woman!

She was also an incredible mother.  All of her children serve God in one capacity or another. Her son Steve Standridge was the man that God used to push me to surrender to serve God in full-time service.

Maria Teresa’s legacy was not only in her living, but in her dying.  In February she found out that she had a terminal case of leukemia.  Most people would have taken a vacation, to enjoy a bit of life before ending it, but not Maria Teresa!  Between blood transfusions she managed to finish several books and a tract about dying.   She even spoke at an afternoon conference for women that Melodee had the opportunity to attend just weeks ago.

Reflecting on Maria Teresa’s life, death and legacy has helped me to realize, even more with my own health issues, the importance of leaving a right legacy.  Someone asked Maria Teresa about her keeping of spiritual diaries.  She told them that after writing in them she would throw them away.  Yesterday I decided to throw away 20 years worth of  journals in the recycle bin.  It was hard…but I asked myself…is that what I want to be remembered for?  I was ashamed for some of the foolish things I had written.

I thank God for sanctification!!  Hopefully I can remember the lessons learned, but I hope to move ahead for God’s glory.  Time will tell if I made the right decision to destroy volumes of reminders of my immaturity; but if Maria Teresa could do it and still leave such a rich legacy, I feel good about looking ahead and leaving a better legacy.

What kind of legacy do I want to leave?  Do I want to be remembered as a great missionary?  Do I want to be remembered as a translator of songs or books (unlikely)?  I fear that I am too easily ensnared in the trap of the “pride of life”.  1 John 2:16-17 says:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

What really matters?  How do I want my wife and children and church people and supporters and lost friends to remember me?

Here is my conclusion:  I want to be remembered as an “Authentic Follower of Jesus Christ.”  Simple, no?  What more could I possibly want?

What about your legacy?  What are your thoughts?

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Why you need to pray for the Whitmans this summer

 

If there were one thing that you could do that could make the greatest difference in one small, spiritually dark corner of the world, would you do it?

Recently, in our Wednesday night prayer time, I shared a challenge that was given to me more than twelve years ago by Daryl, a dear friend and fellow intern at Calvary Baptist Church, our sending church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here is the challenge: Choose to pray every day for six months for something. See what God can do when we put his honor on the line.

A few of us here at the Centro Evangelico Battista have taken that challenge. I decided to pray for three items, since I couldn’t make up my mind…

To read the rest sign up for our updates in the box on the right —->

Praises

  1.  A well attended outreach concert with Angelo Maugeri.
  2. A clear Gospel presentation at our annual soccer outreach.
  3. Our first week of Vacation Bible School with 30 children in attendance.  Many parents came for the special outreach Sunday we had at its conclusion.
  4. Melodee’s pregnancy.
  5. A new open door to play in community bands, where I am able to make new connections.

 

Jon's Gospel presentation

Jon’s Gospel presentation at the soccer tournament

Melodee teaching crafts

Melodee teaching crafts at Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School Children singing “Our God is so BIG”

Important Prayer Requests

1. Doctor’s visit on July 5th to evaluate a new ulceration on my tongue.
2. Our finances, as the Italian government has increased our Italian taxes by more than 20%.
3. Training of Italian leaders in our church.
4. Baptisms on July 14th and more decisions for Christ
5. Melodee and our baby, due in August.

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His Story in Italy – by Fred Whitman

 

His Story in Italy by Fred WhitmanJust wanted to let you know that my Dad’s book “His Story In Italy” is now on Kindle.

I have heard nothing but good feedback regarding the book.

You can find it here if you want to read a sample, check it our or perhaps buy a digital copy. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009KTSBD0/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_alp_dleBqb0FA0XPK

 

If you have already read it and care to endorse it you can do that too.

One of my goals for furlough is to translate it into Italian, because I think it is a story worth reading.
Two chapters down, forty to go!

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