Starting the year with a bang!

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Happy New Year!!
In Italy the New Year celebration is a big deal.  It is traditional to have a succulent meal with multiple appetizers, at least two kinds of pasta, two side dishes (one being lentils cooked with sausage), two kinds of meats, and in some areas fish.  The meal usually starts after eight o’clock and takes a break when the clock strikes midnight.  Then there is dessert and a good espresso coffee, games and much laughter and joy.  Christians then gather to pray together.

One thing that is never missing is a continuous display of fireworks big and small in all directions (We don’t celebrate the fourth of July, so this is it!).
In some southern areas, such as Naples, they literally celebrate with a bang — with gun shooting and home made explosive devices.  Needless to say, many people end up in the emergency room with gunshot wounds and other injuries.  All in all, Italians know how to start the new year off with a bang!Fireworks

Our new year has started with a bang as well.  
We thank God for the opportunity to spend Christmas and New Year’s with Melodee’s parents in Florida and to see our kids enjoy being with their grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins that they rarely see.  Eva was able to be on American soil for the first time.
airplane ride

Other than spending a day in the emergency room for a swollen tongue, our time was uneventful in all the right ways.

Now we are back in Italy. As we count it a privilege to serve God here, we immediately sensed the pressure of the important job we are called to and the spiritual battle we are in.

 

Here are a few examples of things that you can pray for:

1. Hernia Surgery
I wish I could say I am getting back to work, but tuesday I got the call I had been waiting for since June… and Thursday morning I had hernia surgery (maybe moving too many pianos?).    Everybody is so patient with me!  I feel so guilty having to take more time off, but God knows exactly what He is doing!

2. Radio Ministry Challenge
We have not one, but two radio stations that have invaded our frequency, covering our signal even here in Perugia.  Pray for us as we go back to the lawyers to see what we can do.  It’s another one of those David and Goliath situations…but we all know who won in that story!

3. Deacons
On February 1st we have our “Vision Meeting” to officially vote in the three men who were chosen as deacons.  Pray for them and their families, as we have already seen some spiritual battles in their lives spring up form nowhere since the announcement.  Also pray for us as we prepare the deacon training manual.

4. Youth Ministry
Pray that we can continue to develop leaders and teachers, whoever they may be.  We are still looking for someone to be mentored into the teacher/leader position.

5. Baptist Mid-Missions European Enrichment Conference in Malta
In mid-February we will be traveling to Malta to participate in a wonderful conference with most of the Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries of Europe.  Pastor Patrick Odle from First Baptist in Elyria and Pastor Ed Sears from Grace Baptist in Winston Salem will be encouraging us through the Word.  Pray especially for me as I have been asked to lead the worship time, something I love doing (though I usually do it in Italian!).

6. Evangelism
God has been giving us some incredible opportunities to share the Gospel with people.
For obvious reasons, personal details have been omitted.

7. Please continue to pray for us in our teaching and equipping ministries, that God would use us.  
Please pray for my parents too who, after almost 45 years in Italy, are having problems renewing their residence permit.  As you can imagine, we are all quite concerned, but we look forward to God’s provision.

8. In February I also return to Milan for my cancer checkup.  
My oncologist says I am “special”.  (I’m not sure it is a compliment, though.)  He says he has never seen anyone with such mysterious symptoms.  Honestly, seeing what some people have gone through with this disease, I am very thankful that I am a bit different!

Thank you for taking time to read this “brief” note.  As usual, it was supposed to be short, but there is so much going on, this was the best I could do!
As my father-in-law, also a pastor says: “I can’t believe we can have this much fun and still get paid for it”.  Thank you for being with us through your prayers, through your giving, through just being our friends.  We are the richest of all people to be able to have you in our lives and share this common treasure of the Gospel.  You are a blessing to us, and we pray that we can be a blessing to you.

Family Portrait

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Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from the Whitmans!
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
(Philippians 2:5-7 ESV)

We thank God with you and for you!
Each one of you is a blessing to us.  Thank you for your faithful partnership in the Gospel.
Most of all, we celebrate our Triune God, perfect in redemption.  We celebrate Christ’s birth, we celebrate His death, we celebrate his victory over death by the power of the Father, displayed through the working of the Spirit in Italy and around the world as well as the future fulfillment of our redemption for His glory.

We wish you a wonderful Christmas celebration with your family and church family.
Jonathan, Melodee, Noah and Eva

IMG_2269 IMG_2213

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Ten Quick Prayer requests for November

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The Whitman Brass live on!As I sit down to work on my message for Sunday, I realize how grateful we are for your work of prayer during this busy time of the year.

So I am stopping everything to ask for your prayers, with some fanfare,  before heading back into the challenges of the day, knowing that God uses His people to further His work.

Here are my prayer requests:

  1. Preparation for Sunday preaching and teaching.  This week I will be preaching from Hebrews 12:4-13 and teaching about biblical vision from the book of Nehemiah. Melodee will be teaching a music theory course for our worship leaders and choir members and whoever else wants to learn.  I am also training the worship team on Sunday mornings as well as leading monthly lay-leader training times (Sunday afternoon), as we lead the church toward independence.
  2. Wednesdays, I lead our staff training and communication meetings.  In particular, we are seeking to work together toward meeting our strategic goals as a team.  I also have started preparing the choir for our Christmas outreach, which we are planning for the 14th of December.
  3. CEB verseThursdays Melodee participates in a Mothers’ Bible Study.  She is also leading the development of a church library.
  4. Fridays I teach and lead the youth ministry.  Thanks to my mom staying with the kids, Melodee is able to help as well. I am excited to be sharing that responsibility with Giovanni, an Italian believer.
  5. Saturdays I disciple a dear brother in the church, and Melodee is involved with a decorations team and cleaning crew of the church.
  6. Please also continue to pray for my health.  My tongue swelling has subsided some in the last day or two, but certainly there are more questions that need to be asked. (And more visits!)
  7. We hope to officially nominate deacons by the end of the year.  We are in the process of interviewing the nominees.
  8. We continue to share the Gospel with people.  Please pray for fruit in this, as the harvest is great.
  9. Noah Burger KingOur children continue to grow, and we desperately need wisdom as we seek  to lead them toward Christ.  Please pray for Noah as he is going through some challenges at pre-school, both in language and behavior.
  10. We look forward to spending some time with Melodee’s parents over Christmas break.  Eva will finally get to step on American soil and meet her cousins from Melodee’s side!  It also means planning purchases of things we need for the family and ministry, where our dollars count!

Eva and MariaThank you for taking the time to pray through our requests.  I realize this is a very dry letter, but let me assure you that hidden in between the lines are our tears both of joy and toil as we see God do through us and despite us all that He wills for His glory.

And your prayers are what God uses to make it all happen!

Gratefully,
Jonathan and Melodee, Noah and Eva
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Is the Reformation Over?

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ChallengesAs we celebrate the reformation today, here are some good thoughts by Kevin DeYoung on the importance of the reformation…TODAY!

Click Here

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Incredibly Good News

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We simply HAD to give you the great news while it is less than a day old…

Residence CardTHE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT GRANTED MELODEE HER PERMANENT RESIDENCE CARD!!!

We praise the Lord for granting us what was deemed “nearly impossible” by the clerk at the police office that processed our request.

Just this morning I read in E. M. Bounds’ classic book on prayer:

Nothing is too hard for the Lord to do.  As Paul declared, “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”  Prayer has to do with God, with his ability to do.  The possibility of prayer is the measure of God’s ability to do.  The “all things,” the “all things whatsoever,” and the “anything,” are all covered by the ability of God.
I think that even when we are confident in God’s answer we are still helplessly in awe when He comes through for us in these ways.
Then again, as Paul reminded us in Romans 8:32:
    He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Thank you for being with us on this adventure!
We are also extremely in debt to our dear friend Sarah Blocher, from our sending church, Calvary Baptist, who went out of her way to overnight some vital documents we needed last minute when our application was first denied.

In other news…

Noah

1. Noah had his first day of pre-school Monday! 
Pray for him to adapt quickly.  He seemed to enjoy himself, especially his first day, but the teachers are a bit concerned because he does not speak much Italian yet.WELCOME TO LIFE AS A THIRD CULTURE KID!!
2. I finally got my follow-up appointment with my Oncologist,  for October 1st.
3. Sunday we had our first Ministry Fair Sunday at church! It was a very exciting day!

Worship leading

Worship leading

Preaching

Preaching

Ministry fair

Ministry fair

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