While on deputation to go to Italy in 1972, Fred and Rachel Whitman came to the First Baptist Church of Newaygo, MI for the first time. On Jan. 1, 1973, with 100 % of their minimal support they left for Italy, the land of God's calling for their life of service. After two years of language study the Whitmans took a short furlough for the birth of Jonathan, their firstborn (May 27, 1975). In August they returned to launch their church-planting ministry. Home Bible studies were held with some interested folk and in June, 1976 a small gospel hall was opened as a preaching center. On May 7, 1978 Jeremy was born while they were on furlough. In February 1979 the Lord opened the possibility of a daily 10 min. Gospel telecast, La Bibbia Oggi (the Bible Today). After more than 10,000 programs this telecast is still seen daily in the central Italian region of Umbria as well as in all of Europe on the SKY network. On May 4, 1980 Joshua was born in Assisi, Italy and in December of 1980 we began our Christian radio station, RADIO LUCE, which is miraculously still on the air on three F.M. Frequencies in central Italy as well as in the entire world by streaming on the internet on www.radioluce.com. On August 7, 1983 Elizabeth was born in Perugia, Italy. By 1990 there was a group of baptized believers who were ready to sign a doctrinal statement and form a local Italian Baptist Church, the Centro Evangelico Battista. They would remain in that 950 sq. Ft. Storefront rental for a total of 33 years! After many ups and downs over the years (please read Fred's book, "HIStory in Italy"), in 2004 the twenty members decided to step out by faith and buy an available property with a 4,500 sq. Ft. Building to be remodelled. With a lot of help from our supporting churches the first phase of this project is nearing completion and we are looking to begin the second half of the building, which is presently rented. We now have an Italian head Pastor (Lucio), Pastor of Youth and Worship, Jonathan Whitman, Pastor of Media, Daniel Ransom and I am the Pastor of Evangelism, following up T.V. and radio contacts as well as developing outreaches into neighboring cities and several Prisons. Rachel is leading our Children's minstry as well as working with the discipleship of women with our Italian coworker, Maria Luisa.
Jonathan, Melodee and Noah, Jeremy Francesca and Sofia, as well as Elizabeth, Daniel, Cristina and Elisa are working with us in the ministry in San Sisto while Joshua, Sara, Rebecca, Samuel and Naomi are working on a church-plant at Imola, about two hours north of us. Thank you for your many years of faithful partnership with us for the Gospel in Italy.
Yours for Christ in Italy,
Fred and Rachel Whitman