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!

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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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Avalanche!

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by God’s work in your life?

Does your life ever remind you of those avalanches that are so common in the Alps, only a few hundred miles from here?

Truthfully, I am guessing that if you are a follower of Jesus, you, like I, are continually overwhelmed with your inadequacy and God’s work around you.

The amazing part is that He allows us to be right in the middle of it!

Solomon certainly understood this when he became king of Israel.  God made a simple offer: “What shall I give you?”

There appears to be no hesitation in his response.  After recognizing God’s steadfast love toward his father David and David’s faithfulness to the end, Solomon asks one thing (recognizing that David would be a hard act to follow!):

“Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9 ESV)

Avalanche

(Photo: Bruce Tremper/U.S. Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, www.noaa.gov Material is not subject to copyright protection)

The fact that I feel overwhelmed can be seen clearly by my otherwise tidy desk.  Books, papers, bills, folders, pens, birthday cards (my birthday was in May), songs to translate, post-its, cassettes (don’t ask).

There are days when I don’t know where to start and when to stop.

Now before you go and blame everything on my lack of discipline (certainly a part of the problem), let me share some of the overwhelming blessings.

God is at work, so we need prayer and wisdom because, as usual, we feel unprepared to handle it all!

1. God is opening evangelistic doors.

I thank God for allowing cancer in my life as a way of reminding me of my finiteness and of the urgency of the message. 
This morning I was reminded of the urgency in God’s words to Ezekiel: “And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 2:7 ESV)
Maybe I have become more pushy; some would say even too pushy, but Paul reminded Timothy: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV)

2. Leadership training.

     If I could do one thing that makes the greatest difference… I would train leaders.
     – We continue to work ourselves out of a job with the worship ministry.  
Melodee will be teaching the first music course open to all, but especially for our worship team and choir members. She also is teaching some women to play piano.
– I promised to start rehearsing our choir starting October 1st!
– On September 28th we will have our first Worship Training conference with special guest   speaker Dr. Donald Ellsworth, from Baptist Bible Seminary in Pennsylvania!

   – We are training youth leaders.
We started a youth leadership team that includes one young married couple and two singles over 30.  Giovanni will be co-teaching the youth with me!
     - I am leading the missionary team at the moment with weekly training meetings.
– Sunday we will have our first ministry fair at our church, where we will give people the opportunity to sign up for ministry groups and Bible studies for the fall.
– Sunday afternoon I will be leading the ministry coordinators through a training session.

3. Teaching

This is probably the most overwhelming part of my ministry right now: preparing studies for the fall.
     – Translating teaching curriculum. 
We have joined forces with Partners in Discipleship International to translate solid biblical curriculum for all ages.  Right now we are working on a study for middle school and for high school.  Eventually our goal is to find other solid evangelical churches to partner with in distributing the materials and a good Italian evangelical publishing house that would be behind the project.
I’m also translating a deacon training manual, since we are weeks away from nominating deacons in our church!  Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, IN, has kindly given us permission to translate their wonderful materials.
    –  Teaching the adult/youth Sunday School in the fall.

-  I have also agreed to disciple two men in our church: Claudio, my brother that has come to Milan with me,  (He is doing much better, by the way.) and Alessio, a young man who used to be the priest’s right hand man in his town, until God almost violently brought him to Himself through the Truth of His Word.
- Then there is our monthly men’s meeting to plan

4. Melodee’s residence permit

- Tuesday, September 16th we will go to pick up Melodee’s residence card.  We will find out if our request for a permanent card was accepted.  I normally would say it is impossible, but God has been doing so many impossible things in our lives recently that I have no doubt that He is capable of it!

5. My health

– On top of a hernia surgery that I am waiting for (when it rains it pours), I am waiting to hear back from the doctor in Milan for my follow-up visit, due this month.

6. Our beautiful children.

Noah will be heading to pre-school in a week.  There he will be in contact with children his age, and hopefully get a better grounding in the Italian language.
Eva turned one a couple weeks ago.  She has found in herself great determination to eat out of the trash and whatever else she can get into her mouth.  Scooting along on the floor, she also helps with cleaning!

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 ESV)

Probably your impossible and my impossible seem so insignificant compared to Jeremiah’s announcement to Jerusalem: God would actually destroy the city He loved.

But God made us a promise:  “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15 ESV)

We don’t know what God will do, but we know that He has called us here, and that He has promised to deliver us for His glory and He does it through prayer.

Please pray with us!  And we will exalt Him together!

Please Pray For:

1. The salvation of those with whom we are sharing Christ.
2. The training of leaders and opportunities

- Worship ministry: Melodee’s  music course, piano teaching, choir ministry, the training conference on September 28th with special guest speaker Dr. Donald Ellsworth, form Baptist Bible Seminary in Pennsylvania!
Youth Ministry: Giovanni, Daniel, Roberto and Carmela.
- Our ministry fair this Sunday.
– Ministry coordinators training session this Sunday
– Our monthly men’s meeting.

3.   Our translation work.  
– For curriculum translation with Partners in Discipleship International (more to come in a future update). For other churches to partner with and a solid publishing house.
– For the translation of the deacon training manual.
– For the adult/youth Sunday School.
– For discipleship with Claudio and Alessio.
4. Melodee to get her permanent residence card (we have spent a lot of time and money on this!!)
5. Continued health for all of us.
6. Our family to grow together toward God and each other.
7. Much needed wisdom and partners to whom we can delegate!!!

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When Peace is Nothing but an Illusion

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Perugia, seen from our house

Perugia, seen from our house

It’s early Sunday morning. It looks like another lazy summer day here at the gates of Perugia. It’s so quiet I hear a dove coo, and then flutter away.
I couldn’t think of a more peaceful start to my day. The sun is rising over the steeples, I hear a bell in the distance marking the time.

But all is not peace.
The people of Perugia are on the verge of stepping into a Christless eternity.

As most people around the world, the people of Perugia seek to ignore the signals of their demise. Perugia is full of wonderful little town festivals during the summer, with the best local food you can imagine and plenty of folk dancing. It’s enough to temporarily drown out their sorrows for a life without hope and without God.

But tomorrow morning they will wake up and the burden is still there.

  • Their soccer gods failed them completely during the World cup, ranking one of the worst teams of the tournament.
  • The economy gives them no hope, with an all-time record unemployment.
  • Their religion gives them no hope and no certainty.

In fact, the word hope itself in the Italian language speaks of uncertainty, not of certainty.

As I talked last week with  Maria, a very catholic woman, I saw how proud she was of the humility demonstrated by her favorite friar because he told his flock that he doesn’t know where he is going when he dies and he needs their prayers to move him toward heaven.

As I think of what Maria told me, there is turmoil in my heart as well.
How do we reach the thousands of damned souls, even within eyesight of my balcony, with the message of hope that only Christ’s atonement can give?

There is hope, and there is certainty.  That hope is in Christ, that certainty is in Jesus, and nobody else.

And God is certainly at work in Perugia, Italy.
We have seen several new doors open to the Gospel within the last month:

“So what can I do?”  I can almost hear your voice echo in my ears…

PLEASE PRAY.
When we are overwhelmed, when we are weary, when we are confused by all the opportunities coming our way, there is nothing more vital than the prayers of God’s people uplifting us, providentially moving the Spirit to accomplish His work through His unworthy, ineffective servants.

  1. Pray for the people who we are reaching out to with the hope of the Gospel.
  2. Claudio

    Claudio

    Pray for Claudio, my dear brother who has accompanied me to most of my oncologist visits to Milan, broke his femur, had an embolism in his lung and had to be put on oxygen.  Praise the Lord, because after a near death encounter, he is making a comeback.  Most of all, pray for his wife Donatella , who has been able to share the Gospel with many people in the hospital.

  3. Pray for the work in Spoleto, which is only a little more than a dream at this point. Christine and Maddie, Romanian women living in Spoleto, an hour away, have come to faith and have Spoletoasked us for help because they do not have an evangelical church in their area.  My Dad and Giuseppe have been going to Spoleto every Thursday to minister in the high security prison there, so they were able to meet with these women as well.  It reminds me so much of Acts 16, when Paul received the “Macedonian call”.  In Philippi it was first of all through Lydia, a godly foreign woman, that Paul’s ministry in Europe began.
  4. Pray for the nomination and training of deacons at the Centro Evangelico Battista.
  5. Pray for the training of Italian pastors, Sunday School teachers, worship leaders and families.
  6. Pray for my uncertain health. My health is stable at the moment, but not progressing.
  7. Pray for our uncertain residence permits.  We applied for a permanent residence for Melodee, but unless God intervenes, it will probably be rejected.
  8. Pray for more workers in the harvest and the ability for new missionaries to reside here legally.
  9. Pray for boldness in sharing the Gospel in our families, with our neighbors, friends, countrymen (I hear a slight echo of Shakespeare in this statement).
  10. Pray for good management of our time, ministries, money, health, spiritual health.

Pray most of all that Italians will give up their false sense of security in exchange for the peace that only God can give.

If you have prayed for these few things, you have done more than we could ask for and we can only thank you and praise God because His answer is sure to come.

Noah & Eva

Noah & Eva

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