Three undeniable answers to your prayers for Italy

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!!)
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 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!

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestBuffer this pagePrint this page
Posted in Monthly E-letter | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Count on it! Trusting God when the future is uncertain.

[3] I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
[4] For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
[5] Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
[6] That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
(Psalm 108:3-6 ESV)

If you have followed Jesus for more than one day, you realize that there are more times than not when we don’t know how things could humanly end well.

David describes how he faced this in Psalm 108.
He chooses to worship God before he even describes the challenge he is facing because our worship is an act of faith, a statement about what we know for certain about God.

Recently, we have been reminded of this in three ways:
1. Trials in the lives of missionaries near and dear to us.
2. Challenges in our family life.
3. Challenges in our ministry.

1. Trials in the lives of missionaries near and dear to us.
So many missionaries to the Italian people are going through some great trials.

You may have heard about the tragedy the struck Reed and Kyra Carr.  They were headed back to Italy as missionaries after a short furlough when they were hit by and unmanned tractor trailer.  Kyra lost her life in the accident.  Though we don’t know them personally, we were were all very affected by their tragedy.
But there are others:
– My mentor, Steve Standridge and his wife Stephanie have been held back from returning to Italy because he has Lyme’s disease and she has cancer.
– The Lyerlys have had to return to the States because of health problems, as well as the Johnsons.  Still another family has had their return delayed after a routine checkup that showed some potentially serious health problems.  My Dad is currently incapacitated from preaching and teaching because of surgery to his nose and throat.

It seems so remarkable how in the arc of just a few months so many missionaries to Italy have been under attack.

2. Our family is also facing some new challenges.
Noah has really been struggling returning to school and has developed a severe shyness and unexpected anger issues.

3. We have finally been overwhelmed with challenges in our ministry as we start out a new season of ministry.
– In regards to our youth ministry, we are at a loss for how to minister to this new generation.  In our recent youth dinner we had a full table.  Unfortunately, only a handful of the participants were from our youth group.  The others were from another youth group that had come to celebrate a birthday with us.

– Secondly, I have had so many opportunities to share the Gospel this summer (probably more than ever).  Unfortunately, none of the people to whom I witnessed have committed their life to Christ yet.

When David was facing such odds against him he worshiped, prayed and trusted in God’s steadfast love.  We can and will do the same.
Here are three promises we can count on:

1. God is love.
He loves the Carrs, and the Standridges, and the Lyerlies and the Johnsons, and my parents,  and us, and Noah, and the youth, and the lost.

2. God is in control.
The truck that hit the Carrs was out of control, but not God.
The health of our dear friends seems out of control, but not God’s grip on their lives.
Noah’s emotions may seem out of control to us, but God still has him in His hands.
The youth seem to have lost their first love, but God did not lose his grip on them.

3. Christ will build His church.
As John MacArthur so aptly put it: “Christ will build His church, not us.”
Now more than ever we need workers in the Italian harvest.  How can God allow these Church functiongood missionaries to be taken away from us, even temporarily?
Christ will build his church.
How can we think of reaching Umbria if we can’t even get through to our own children, or the young people we are counting on to be the church of tomorrow?
Christ will build his church.


How can we build the church of Christ if nobody comes to Christ?
CHRIST builds His church.  Not us.

Please continue to pray for missionaries.
Pray for our family.
Pray for our ministry.

We are certain in victory because it is God’s battle.
But often that victory passes right through your lips in prayer.

Thank you for making a difference through your prayers.

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestBuffer this pagePrint this page
Posted in Monthly E-letter | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

When the grand finale is only the beginning…

One of the things I always enjoyed doing growing up was preparing and performing in band concerts. 

One of the hardest days was the day after the concert.  All of the preparation and emotion and celebration…and then it is over.  You’ve probably been there, either in music, or in sports, or in preaching, or in school, or in just about anything big you have prepared for.
Fortunately, unless you are hanging it up, there is more to be experienced.

Our VBS grand finale certainly was exciting, but God does not take time off, so we are also excited to see what He has in store for us now.

Before I share more about summer opportunities, let me share how God blessed us on VBS Sunday (a.k.a. the Grand Finale).

VBS 2015 Sunday Crowd

VBS 2015 Sunday Crowd

VBS Sunday
I took this picture with my back to the door…literally.  I don’t know the exact count of guests, but I am not sure we could have fit more people!

Daniel preached a great evangelistic message, and the children continued to be excited about the things they had learned and shared with their parents.  Even this past Sunday some of the children came back with their parents!  Thank you for praying!!

Most of the children were unchurched.  Almost all of them were invited by someone, despite our efforts with fliers and publicity.

Now what?
You may be curious to know what the rest of the summer looks like (including the long overdue health update).

Jon and MelodeeBible studies and visits
We have connected with several unbelievers who have asked for Bible studies.  One of Noah’s classmates’ dads has asked to bring their son to Sunday School with Noah!  Another unsaved friend has asked to spend time reading the Bible together.

Music Outreach
Trying to keep my horn playing up and getting out in the community as well, I have started getting calls to go play in symphonic bands, some at a very amateur level, but others on a more semi-professional level.
I have only had one concert so far, but have already been able to share with a musician friend of mine.
The pressure is on, both musically and evangelistically!  PLEASE PRAY!

Whitmans in S. FortunatoDeacon Training Preparation
We have found an excellent Christian translator for our Deacon Training manual.  Now we just need to get it ready to be used and go for it!!

Health Needs
I thank the Lord that it’s been over a year since my last cancer surgery in Milan.   Sundays are the most painful day for me.  I can tell that I do a lot more speaking.  But I thank God that a little discomfort is all I have been experiencing!  Please continue to pray for me as I need to go back to Milan for my checkup!

Thank you for praying!  I hope you have enjoyed reading more about all God is doing here.

Our Top Seven Prayer Requests

1. For the salvation of the children from VBS and their families as well as good follow-up.

2. That I can start reading the Bible with my unsaved friend.

3. That Noah’s classmate and his family will start coming to church.

4. For boldness in evangelizing the musicians I come into contact with and good playing so that I can keep evangelizing them!

5. For leadership training in our church and that we can be ready and able to train our deacons in the fall.

Roman and Vincenzo

Roman and Vincenzo

6. For good health and wisdom with dealing with what comes our way, especially with my cancer.

7. For Christians in Greece. We were supposed to send Roman and Vincenzo this summer to help in a camp, but because of the situation they had to cancel the camp.

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestBuffer this pagePrint this page
Posted in Outreach | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

God gave us an amazing week… Now pray for the Grand Finale!

Thank you for praying for us this week.
vbsWe had over fifty children every day, we had great workers, we had good weather all but one day, and we were able to present the Gospel!  So what more can we ask for?
Actually, there is one thing…


Family Portrait

Family Portrait (minus Noah)

Pray for tomorrow!
We have invited the children to come back tomorrow to be part of our worship service with their families, and to present them with a summary of all the children did.

We don’t know how many will come, but we are trusting God that we can reach not only the children, but their parents with the Gospel.

Pray for follow up as well.

Please share this request in your church tomorrow if you have any chance at all.  We look forward to seeing all that God does!
Enjoy a few more pictures, and a video too!

Melodee did a great job with crafts

Vincenzo leading game time

Maria Luisa helping them memorize verses

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestBuffer this pagePrint this page
Posted in Outreach, Praise | Tagged , | Leave a comment

You can change someone’s life this week

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.


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








Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for brief updates and candids throughout the week!

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestBuffer this pagePrint this page
Posted in Outreach | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments