Tag Archives: Leadership Development

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

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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  

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Baptisms!

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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!

Three undeniable answers to your prayers for Italy

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Last night, as I led the deacon training time, I looked around the room and was struck by how committed and engaged these men were, even at 10:30 pm!
God truly does work, despite the challenges and even through the challenges he brings about in our life and ministry.

I apologize if in my last letter you sensed desperation or dismay.  My goal was to help you pray more earnestly, and certainly not to make you feel sorry for us!

Someone said: “If you don’t feel inadequate or overwhelmed you are not working at something only God can do!”

God is doing things only He can do here. Here are
Three undeniable answers to your prayers for Italy:

1. You prayed for Noah’s adjustment.
Noah and EvaEvery morning on our way to Noah’s preschool, I take time to pray with Noah for his day.  One thing he ALWAYS asks me to pray for is that the new teacher will not yell at him (She is an old school Italian educator.).  Today after I prayed, he mumbled something from the back seat.  When I didn’t understand, he got a little frustrated with me: “I want to pray too!”  If that does not melt a parent’s heart, what does?  God is working in Noah’s heart!

2. You prayed for the trials of missionaries to Italy.

  • The Standridges and the the other missionary family I mentioned are both scheduled to return!  Please pray for them!
  • Sunday my Dad will begin his regular preaching, just in time for the Christmas season!

Praise God for working in their lives!

3. You prayed for our ministry.
(Here is where the letter risks getting too long!!)
Witness:
funeralMonday I was able to read Psalm 121 and pray at the graveside of the aunt of Serenella.  (Serenella is the sister in Christ that found me the Oncologist in Milan, just as a frame of reference.)
It’s remarkable that God allowed me to share at all. Just moments before, at the funeral, the priest has verbally abused Serenella’s family for trying to “lead this woman astray from the one catholic faith!”

Youth:
youth puzzle activityGod is working in their hearts.

  • A few weeks ago, the youth hosted the church on our regular Friday night  and we put together 2000 Bible calendars to give out in the Christmas season!  It’s a new record!

 

  • Youth puzzle activityWe have been studying shorter books of the Bible every Friday evening and have seen them get more engaged.  One girl has also been bringing a friend!

 

 

Maturing the church to independence:

After so many years of sacrifices, we are making great strides toward our long sought after goal of forming an autonomous local Baptist church.

Jon preaching

  • We have begun monthly deacon training meetings.
  • We have started small groups in the homes as a way to equip leaders and foster community.
  • We are training more worship leaders.
  • Melodee has almost completed her second course of music training for members.
  • For our Christmas program we translated and are working on Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus (praise or prayer request?).  Just a few years ago we couldn’t even get the choir to harmonize!

There is so much to be grateful for!  

Exciting things are not happening  despite the trials, but through the trials!  Walls are being knocked down (literally, as the church building is undergoing the next step of the long-term remodeling process) because God is doing so much!

Do you realize that in God’s sovereign plan he has used YOUR prayers and your giving to make all of this happen?
Thank you for making a difference!

You can change someone’s life this week

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You can change someone’s life this week!

Committing to pray for what may be currently our most strategic ministry of the year

VBS Sunday 2013

VBS Sunday 2013

Two years ago we did our first Vacation Bible School (VBS) when two girls from America came to help us for the summer.  We had no idea what we were doing, but we all pitched in and God brought in results, as many families who sent their children have come back to our church on several occasions.
This year we already have more children signed up than last year without the walk-ins who usually come in the first day.
Our team is excited, the decorations are going to be awesome (how could the not be with a Western theme!), and the lessons are powerful.

cowboy

I look forward to playing cowboy this wee!

When we invited a lady we know from a store in the neighborhood she was so excited to have a place to send her kids after school got out.

I also brought some invitations to the superintendent of all the schools of the district where Noah attends.  There simply are not many opportunities like this one.

However, the greatest number of sign-ups are from church members inviting their friend and neighbors.  Praise the Lord!

In light of the great opportunity we are facing for the Gospel I ask you to please pray:

  1. For me as I teach and lead the worship.
  2. For Melodee, who is in charge of crafts.
  3. For my sister Elizabeth who is in charge of coordinating everything.
  4. For my brother in law Daniel, who is in charge of the English lesson and all the technology.
  5. For all the teachers and volunteers.
  6. For protection for all of us, but especially for the children.
  7. For children and their parents to entrust their lives to Christ

We all know that prayer makes a difference.  But do you realize that through your prayer God works to change someone’s life and eternal destiny forever?
We would love to have you on board from Monday through Friday and again on Sunday when we will invite the parents to our worship time, where the children will be able to share what they did and learned.

Thank you for making a difference!
Jon and Melodee, Noah and Eva
The Whitmans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Jesus Didn’t Pray for the Harvest

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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??