What will be your legacy?

What will be the most valuable use of our time as missionaries?

I can’t remember exactly when it happened…was it during the spiritual gifts course that I took at church? Was it during a missionary presentation?  
Probably partly both.  All I know is that God made it crystal clear to me one day that not only was He leading me back to Italy as a missionary but that I would be there “Equipping the Italian Church of the Next Generation to Reach the World for Christ.”

I love the quote that goes something like this:

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.


Since our last conversation, God has reminded me again and again that there is no better use of my time.  We need to invest in others.
This year has the promise of being just that.

We inaugurated the year welcoming Danilo as our pastoral intern for the year.  He will be spending many hours with us as a pastoral team and missionary team.  We are really excited to see how God will use it in his life and where God might lead him in the future.  I know that my one-year internship at Calvary Baptist Church was one of the most life-changing experiences of my life…it’s hard to believe it was almost twenty years ago!

Francesco and Kollin

Right on Danilo’s heels is another great brother, Francesco, who came to Christ through the ministry of Baptist Mid-Missions in Peru, though he is Italian!Just last Sunday we welcomed him and his wife as members of our church as they desire to grow and serve and see where God will lead them in ministry.
A couple of weeks ago we led a group of six men to a conference in Messina held by the Italian Theological Academy that helps us with courses several times a year.  The theme was unity among leaders in the local church.  

We enjoyed growing together with these men from our church and men from almost twenty churches in Italy and the United States.  I particularly enjoyed sitting next to my brother Jeremy, who is an avid note taker and deacon in our church.  We were also asked to help with the music; it was a lot of fun to accompany a room full of Italian church leaders in worshiping our Lord!

Speaking of the Academy, this year will be our third and last year of the preaching program.  We have several men involved and we look forward to seeing them grow in their preaching!
Lastly, on February 9th we will be celebrating the extinguishing of the mortgage of our church building, and my Dad will officially become a Pastor Emeritus of the church. 
Of course, hopefully that won’t slow him down, but we are looking more and more at developing and bringing in Italian leaders.
My Dad said it best when he announced this new phase in the life of our church. “Just as geese fly in formation, and at some point the leader must take a step back and allow another to take the brunt of the air stream, so we as leaders must be ready to develop those who will take our place and bring the Italian church further than we could have imagined!”  The time to develop leaders is now.  We thank the Lord for the faithfulness of my parents, who gave everything to bring us to this point.
May we be counted faithful as they have and have as rich of a legacy.What will be your legacy?

BMM Italy Team

Great opportunities ahead!

Five ways everything is about to change.

As I write this note to you from the comfort of my in-laws’ dining room, I’m conscious about the fact that everything is about to get a little crazy.

I’ll admit, this summer has not been the epitome of relaxation:

  1. PreachingWe spoke almost 20 times and tried to meet with as many friends and family as possible.
  2. We have slept in about 20 different beds.
  3. We racked up over 5,000 miles of driving on our borrowed car. (Thanks Mom Z!)
  4. We have had physicals and dental work (for a total of nine fillings!).
  5. We have been in three week-long conferences.

All the while trying to keep up with people in Italy and Noah’s summer homework.

One man innocently asked us: “Why are you here?  Do you need money?”  The simple answer is that more than anything we need prayer.

If we have prayer God will provide the money too.
But if we don’t have prayer, all the money in the world will not suffice to meet our needs!

We need prayer because we are about to embark in some of greatest adventures yet:

  1. Sunday evening we will be speaking at Starkey Road Baptist Church, in Seminole, Florida.  This will be our greatest chance this summer to share our vision with people who are not already familiar with our ministry.  Please pray that we can make significant new connections and partnerships!
  2. Tuesday morning Melodee’s Dad will take us to the airport to fly back to Italy. We will be arriving Wednesday morning in Rome. (Thanks Mom and Dad W!). We are still waiting on a few important things we ordered online, such as extra suitcases.  Yikes!  We’re cutting it close!
  3. We begin strategizing to reach the unreached city of Foligno, a half an hour drive from Perugia.
  4. We continue to invest in people and train leaders for ministry at the Centro Evangelico Battista.
  5. We continue to reach people through personal evangelism; connecting with people at our kids’ schools, through music (my quintet already wants to plan the next rehearsal).

Pray that we can make the best use of our time and organizes our life around the most important things.

Pray that we can make the most of every one of these opportunities! 
It’s so easy to fall back into the routine and neglect the most important things that God is calling us to do.

Will you commit to pray for us every day this week and, why not,  this whole next month?

There are great opportunities ahead, but we can’t do it without you!

Jumping in Head First Without Losing Our Heads

Seven things in our life that ABSOLUTELY need your prayers this month.

Psalm 127:1-2
    [1] Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
[2] It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
(ESV)

Yesterday we went to a park with our children to take advantage of the last days of Summerfall (word I just invented to describe our warm October weather).
Noah and Eva have become much more courageous after this summer in America with slides and swings and climbing things.

Cousins at the park

Cousins at the park

Suddenly, I saw Noah, my normally cautious firstborn, do something I had never seen him do…slide head first at rapid descent down a steep plastic tube with somewhat of a drop at the end.  He was proud of himself for stopping before he fully ejected into the unknown below.  You should have seen the smirk on his face!

Mom and Dad were a little less impressed…he has a good brain and we hope to keep it inside his head.  And keeping his new jeans nice for school would be a plus.

Quite frankly, Melodee and I feel a bit the same way about jumping into this fall; maybe you feel the same way.  There are more opportunities than there is time, and we want to be wise about how we commit.  That’s why I’ve dropped everything to write you.  We need backup!

Can I ask you to pray for seven things?

Conference1. This weekend we have a Bible conference to encourage the church at large with the help our good friends of the Italian Theological Academy.

2. Our ministry has gotten really busy already this fall with Young Couples group, Choir preparations, Staff and Church leader training, Preaching, Discipleship, Melodee teaching English and Piano (she already got to share the Gospel in her first English lesson!!).

3. On a personal level we are trying not to over commit with family, but both Noah (6) and Eva (4) are taking a music class and we’re debating on signing Noah up for a sport to help the arches in his feet (at his pediatrician’s suggestion).

4. Thursday I head to Como to have my regular checkup with my oncologist…it’s an all-day trip there and back for a fifteen minute visit, but well worth it!  Pray that I don’t miss any trains and that the appointment will go well.

5. Pray for the salvation of the many people we are in contact with…We share the gospel so often, but there are so many people to reach and so little time!  Pray for Holy Spirit’s work!

6. Pray for us as we are praying about the completion of this church plant and about where God would move us, and that God would provide Italians to go plant the next church with us!  There are so many cities and towns in Umbria still unreached by the Gospel!

7. Pray for good stewardship of time, energy, money and all our other resources!

I know that your time is precious.  Thank you for taking time to read this and especially for praying.  There is nothing in the universe that God uses more than your prayers to do His will in this unreached heart of Italy.

Unreached Umbria

Love,
Jon, Melodee, Noah and Eva
P.S. Have you been on our website lately?  We have made some fun changes!
You also might want to check out Dann and Liz’s cool new website, with a few recipes to boot!

A unique opportunity for you and an amazing opportunity for our church!

I don’t often forward notes from others, but I just received a note from my parents, veteran missionaries Fred and Rachel Whitman, that you do not want to miss.

First, they talk about a unique opportunity: an Italian Christian History Tour, led by my Dad.
It is unique in three ways:
1. It may be the last tour my Dad organizes
2. It would be a great opportunity for you to enjoy Italy, learn about our history and have a greater understanding of the need of the country.
3. For a tour of its kind, it is truly a great deal.  My Dad never makes any money off it…he loses money every time, but he considers it worth it because of what it does toward raising awareness in the hearts of the participants to the needs of Italy.

The second part is regarding our new deacon!  As a church body we were able to vote on a new deacon for our church body.

Soon, we will update you on our furlough plans, but this message is time sensitive, so without further ado, happy reading, and we hope to see many of you here!
(If you subscribe to both letters I apologize for the redundancy!)

Jon and Melodee  

Continue reading

Baptisms!

This morning I got an unexpected call from Roberto. We were supposed to meet this afternoon for discipleship. He couldn’t come because he is sick. Immediately I asked him: “Will you be OK for tomorrow?” His answer: “I’ll be there tomorrow, even if I have 40º degree fever (104º F)”.
You see, tomorrow is not your average Sunday for Roberto…he and nine other people are scheduled to be baptized! He is so excited you would think he was getting married!

teaching

Dann teaching. Roberto is the first on the left.

Tomorrow is the culmination of months of preparation, study, reflection, prayer, and yes, even selection. For the first time aided by our new deacons in the interview process, we are happy to present these candidates to the congregation and to their unsaved relatives and friends. They will stand in front of a crown of potentially 150 people to share their faith in Christ and follow him through the waters of baptism.

Honestly, our part has been minimal. God has done the saving, the believers in our church have done the witnessing and my colleague/brother-in-law/friend Dann Ransom has done most of the preparation.
God is so good!

Please take time today to pray for these baptisms.

Pray for:
1. Clear testimonies and preaching.
2. Good health, especially for Roberto.
3. Good attendance.
4. More people to come to faith because of tomorrow.
5. For God to be exalted in His church!

Thank you for taking time and being part of this great event through your prayers, through your giving, though sharing with others the vision of what God is doing in Italy!

Jon, Melodee, Noah and Eva

Whitmans Christmas Portrait 2015
P.S. Make sure you connect with us through Facebook and Twitter too for quick prayer requests and news throughout the month!