Prayer letters do not come as easy nor as often during this stage of medical retirement. Lord willing, we hope to get a quarterly update out to our supporting churches.
Current Prayer Letter – October 2014
Dear Praying Partners,
Thank you so much for your prayers for our family. We are humbled by the phone calls, letters, and notes that we get from many of you from time-to-time.
There have been a few changes in our lives here in Texas recently. As many of you may remember, last year I (Melissa) had the opportunity to volunteer in the office at the boys’ school every Friday morning. I was also the Vice-President of the Parent Teacher Organization in the boy’s school. The Lord multiplied those opportunities by giving me the privilege to be a part of a special planning committee for the school district here in Forney. Through that opportunity I had a chance to get to know many of the district teachers and the superintendent. After being involved in all of those areas, God began to fire the flame of my passion for teaching again. At the same time, a couple of churches were no longer able to provide support and we were beginning to feel some financial constraint. We began to pray about whether or not God would have me work as part of His plan for our family. It would mean some changes for all of us. Dave was concerned that I would have enough strength for it, while I was concerned that he would do okay at home by himself while we were all at school.
Well, as you know, our God is awesome! His grace is always sufficient, and he provides above and beyond what we can imagine. First, I was able to renew my out-of-state teaching license which had expired over twelve years ago. God also provided me with several interviews that were very informational and helped me to get some more knowledge about the school district and the hiring process. One of my final interviews was for a teaching position in a school at another elementary school across town. It was a little further away than I desired. My hope was to work at the boys’ school that is only 4 blocks away from our home, but the school (Blackburn Elementary) did not have any openings. When I returned from the interview and waited to hear back from them, I told Dave that I didn’t care if I ended up getting a simple secretarial position, I just really wanted to work here close at Blackburn. Not ten minutes later, the Vice Principal at Blackburn unexpectedly called and said that there was a part-time position available as a bilingual Title-1 aid. They immediately invited me in for an interview and hired me on the spot! During that interview, the principal let me know that as soon as there was a full-time teaching job open, they would slide me into that position. To make a long story short, I worked as a bilingual aid for three weeks before I was made a full-time 6th grade English teacher.
God is so good. I really enjoy teaching these fifty-seven sixth graders language arts, and am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have an impact on their lives. Furthermore, God has also been giving Dave incredible peace and strength to be at home by himself. We were encouraged to pursue this teaching career as he did not have any extreme low-points since last summer where he required 24-hour care.
None of this would be possible without the help of my parents. They pick-up Brittany every day from the middle school. They take care of the kids when they are sick and need to stay home from school. They watch them when I need to go to meetings or classes outside of school hours. They are also just a call away when Dave needs help with anything. I am so thankful for them.
Finally, thank you for all YOUR prayers for us. We know that we would not be able to do any of this without your prayers for us. You are such a precious part of our lives.
David, Melissa, Brittany, Tyler & Carter Whitcher
Prayer Letter – June 2014
Dear Prayer Partners,
Thank you so very much for you faithful friendship and love to us. God has shown Himself very true as He provides for each of our needs. Thank you for your part in this provision. We thank The Lord for you and love you very much.
Our life is pretty simple and low-key without many changes to report on. Nonetheless, we wanted to give you a quick update.
The little church God led us to is such an encouragement. Melissa’s Dad has been helping them get better organized and contributing to a foundation for vision and growth. We thank the Lord for the church’s Pastor. Pastor Barnes clearly and expositionally preaches God’s Word. The preaching and fellowship is a weekly encouragement to our family. The only downside with the church is the distance it is from where we live. Thank you for continuing to pray concerning the possibility of a church-plant right here in the city of Forney.
Of course, because of David’s health, our family cannot be very hands-on in a church planting type of ministry. The leaders would be the Farlows (Melissa’s parents) and any other co-laborers that God would provide.
School is out and summer is here! The kids are enjoying their free time and looking forward to a few small special things to do. Last week, for example, they were able to participate in a Mario Kart tournament at the mall. Tyler, is playing in a basketball league this summer and all the kids are participating in a weekly photography contest with Dad.
Melissa finished the year strong serving in the school’s PTO and is beginning to pray about whether or not God would want her to have a teaching job next fall. We trust the Lord’s perfect timing and provision.
We enjoyed a visit from Dr. David and Kathy Little – president of Baptist Church Planters. It was a joy to catch-up with them and a blessing to have them minister to our church and family. We have great memories of our active years of coordinating Spanish Ministries with BCP and praise the Lord for the ongoing effort of the mission agency. Dr. Little is retiring and BCP’s new president will begin soon.
Thanks again for your vital prayers.
Prayer Letter – December 2013
Dear Prayer Partners,
Psalm 32:10-11 – “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
God has indeed shown Himself to be merciful and gracious toward us. As we think back through the year, we praise Him for several blessings.
First, we thank the Lord for our family. Brittany is now in junior high and enjoys the flute, horseback riding and just began playing basketball for school. Tyler is 10 and adores basketball more than any other hobby. Our youngest, Carter, is 8 and seems to enjoy art, music and super heroes.
Speaking of family, we also thank the Lord for Melissa’s parents living here close. God is opening doors for them with their missionary ministry with Baptist Church Planters. Not only are they encouraging local churches, but God is beginning to provide contacts in our neighborhood for a possible church plant. Below, please find the Farlow’s most recent prayer letter. When you think of us, please pray for Tom and Nancy. They are such a blessing to us.
God continues to provide witness opportunities for Melissa at the boy’s school. They made her the Vice-President of the PTO this year. We praise God for the relationships which are developing and for the opportunities to share Christ.
We also thank the Lord that He is sustaining David. God gave us a little scare this summer when he had a couple of really low months physically. Thankfully, he has bounced back to his “normal” self within the limits of his disability. God’s grace is manifest daily and we certainly can sense your faithful prayers. This brings us to a final blessing…
Thank you for the love, grace and mercy that you have shown toward us. Thank you for the support you have given us through the past few years since the Carbon Monoxide accident. We love you and pray that God may bless you richly as you serve Him.
David and Melissa Whitcher
Here is the latest prayer letter from Melissa’s parents – Tom & Nancy Farlow:
Dear Prayer Partner,
“Back in the saddle again” – literally and figuratively. First, the “literal saddle.”Close to our home I have met a man who gives riding lessons and trains horses. I went tomeet him and found out that he rides western and English and trains horses in dressage. Hestarted as a stunt man in western films and is still doing that plus doing commercials etc.As we got acquainted, he allowed me to come and ride and I am learning some of thedressage training tips plus I am training an old spoiled western mare that we are hoping tomake useful for lessons or stunt work. I felt good one day as we were talking and he said,“Western, English, Dressage it doesn’t matter, your goal is to make a horse go where youwant it to, when you want it to, the way you want it to. In other words ‘a broke horse’.”That pretty well fit into what I thought also.
You may wonder what this has to do with anything but it’s coming. When he travels he lets me substitute for him giving riding lessons. As you remember we have beenpraying for contacts. The first day I taught 6 families and they all are from our subdivisionor the one right next to it. In one week I met more people than we met in a year before. Ihave since taught 2 more times and I’m beginning to get to know these families and theirvalues. God is so good. Please pray that I will have the opportunity to witness not only tothese families but also to the owner of the stables.
Nancy began volunteering at the school where our grandkids attend. She works inthe office and on another day listens to kids read who are still learning. She can’t sneakinto school because they all know Melissa and the resemblance is undeniable. Please praythat she will have contacts through this avenue as well. It is certainly a good resource forfinding out about community opinions and finding how many ethnicities are present in ourarea, which are quite a few.
Now for the “figurative saddle”. We found a church that has been a realencouragement to us. It is quite a drive away, so it will not figure in to permanent plans, but it has a heart forpeople and is active in trying to reach people. The pastor is bi-vocational and has not hadtime to train leaders or do some of the things he would like to do. He has asked me toteach Evangelism classes for the next several Sunday nights and it feels great to beinvolved in this area. He sees a need for training leaders and we will be ready to help inthat capacity as the opportunity presents itself.
We also asked the pastor if they would be willing to pray with us about thepossibility of starting a church in the area where we live (we are 20 miles apart) and if theywould be willing to share contacts they have that live near us, that would not be going totheir church because of distance etc. and he said, “Yes!”
At some point in time we would like to share with this church what church planting is all about and how they can pray for us. This will be an encouragement to them and us.
We want to thank you for praying for us. David and Melissa had a rough couple ofmonths where David had basically no strength and was not able to leave the house.Thankfully in the last 3 weeks he has improved enough to be able to get out of the houseand even made it to church once. It was a real struggle on his part, but it was something hereally wanted to do. They don’t know what caused it or why he has improved a little butwe are grateful that he is able to function better now. Please keep praying for them and us.
Our house in Brasil has not sold yet and we are in contact with the one responsible for taking care of it. Please pray that it will sell soon. Just as you are feeling the crunch of the new health program, we had someincreases also. We are thankful for the “horse” part time jobs and I found some otherriding work that has helped as well. Keep praying that the “part time opportunities”continue and we will make even more contacts – not only contacts, but opportunities forBible studies and salvation decisions.
Thank you for your loving and generous support in prayers and finances. We enjoy servingGod and having you praying for us.
Tom and Nancy Farlow
Prayer Letter – April 2013
Dear Prayer Partners,
Thank you so much for your love and prayers for us. Though our lives are vastly different, God continues to bless and show himself strong. Thank you for your part in this.
In March, we enjoyed a visit from our BCP fellow missionaries Herb and Wanda Taylor. The Taylors are the Coordinators of Hispanic Ministries with Baptist Church Planters. It was a joy to be able to spend a few days visiting with them as we reminisced and prayed together concerning the thousands of Hispanics throughout the United States who have not yet heard the gospel.
Herb and Wanda have a full plate as they shepherd BCP’s Hispanic missionaries and encourage many Hispanic church plants. They also have an effective ministry counseling and encouraging churches who are seeking to begin new Spanish ministries.
When you think of us, please pray for the Taylors. They are very dear to our hearts and are carrying on the ministry that God asked us to leave behind. You may connect with them through their website at herbandwanda.com.
- Please, continue to pray for the little church that we attend. They are still in need of encouragement and growth to move forward as a church. Above all, we need wisdom to know how to best help and encourage them.
- Also pray for two of our daughter’s friends who have made professions of faith. They both attend church with us when they can and we can see signs of life. We are praying for opportunities to be able to share the gospel with the girls’ parents.
May God richly bless you!
The Whitcher Family
Prayer Letter – December 2012
Dear Prayer Partners,
We praise the Lord that one of the girls attending church with us accepted Christ as her personal Savior! It happened about one week after our last prayer letter was sent out. Thank you for praying. Now we are praying for her family who is very resistant to even the thought of Christ or church.
Speaking of church, please continue to pray with us about the little church we have been attending. They desperately need a pastor. May God continue to give us wisdom to know how to encourage them. We praise the Lord for the love that they show to us and Melissa’s parents. We are really asking God that He would open doors that no man can close in this situation.
God has been allowing Melissa to really get involved in the local elementary school where our kids attend. Since we moved to Texas we have been praying for opportunities to build relationships with the unsaved community. God is answering this prayer through the school. Melissa is there volunteering often and is getting more and more opportunities to serve in the PTO. I guess this is why we are so burdened for God to work in the little church we are attending. We desperately need a healthy church to feed those whom we are seeking to reach.
Finally, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. It is very humbling to know that millions around the world are celebrating the foremost holiday of the year; yet, most of those do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. The happiness they are finding in the holidays is fickle, temporary and empty. Oh may God draw all men to Himself, and may we be obedient in seeking to witness to those within our circle of influence.
We love you all and thank you for your constant prayers and encouragement to us. May God richly bless you and yours.
The Whitcher Family
Prayer Letter – October 2012
Dear Prayer Partners,
We are so thankful for your prayers and faithful encouragement. God indeed has been merciful to us. We praise Him and are excited to give you a few updates.
- Melissa’s parents have found housing and are settled in our neighborhood. It is great to have them living so close. I (David) am so thankful for them as they a huge part in keeping Melissa and the kids going. Thank you for praying for them as they begin a new ministry with Baptist Church Planters.
- A few of our kids friends from school have been going to church with us. They need to be saved. It is exciting to see the friendships blossom as we attempt to reach our neighbors for the Lord.
- Speaking of church, we have found a little Baptist Church here in town where we have been attending for several months. The church is currently without a pastor. Our desire is that God would open up doors to allow this struggling church to be growing and thriving again. We need wisdom to know how we can encourage them just as they encourage us.
- The Collazo family are now in Lorain and beginning the process re-launching the Bi-lingual church-plant there. This is a dear missionary couple. May God use them and open up doors that no man can shut.
Thanks again for your love and prayers,
PS – Melissa recently wrote a testimony about our new life out of full-time ministry. You are welcome to check it out here
Prayer Letter – June 2012
Dear Prayer Partners,
God is good! It has been a while since our last prayer letter. Here are a few updates:
- Melissa’s Dad came through his surgery to remove cancer well. They found it all and he is well on his way to full strength. The biggest prayer request is for Melissa’s parent’s house to sell in Brazil so that they can better settle here in the area. Currently they are in an apartment about ten minutes from us. The Farlows are a huge help and encouragement. We praise the Lord for them.
- Last week a couple from our sending church came to spend the week with us. The fellowship was great and they blessed us by doing several odd projects around the house. They were a blessing.
- Summer has begun and the kids are done with school. This brings new adjustments as the kids are home full-time. Thank you for praying for Melissa’s strength. As for me, my disability remains the same. God has been very gracious to put us in a home and situation here in Texas where life is as manageable as it can be. Having said that, Melissa needs prayer as she carries the slack of all that I cannot do while being my caretaker and a mother. Oh May God continue to bless her in incredible ways. She is pretty special.
- We praise the Lord for God’s provision. Thank you for your loving mercy and graciousness. Our total support (social security plus missionary support) is currently at 95%. This has lowered from being about 120% of needed support in December when we first began receiving Social Security benefits.
Please forgive us for not updating you as often. It is simply because there is not much going on! Life is pretty simple – as it has to be. May God richly bless you! Please drop us a note and let us know how we may pray for you.
Prayer Letter – February 1, 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
We trust that this letter finds you well in this new year. May God continue to work in great ways and bless you as you walk with Him.
We are settled into our new place. God was so good to send a team from Berean Baptist Church in Pella, IA who came and did dozens of projects around our home.
The kids are enjoying school. They have had opportunities this year to witness and lead a couple of friends to the Lord. Melissa has been attempting to build relationships with the teachers and staff. We praise the Lord that she was invited to help in the school every day next week.
Thank you for praying for Melissa’s parents. They are back in Brazil to close out that ministry. They are praying for their house there to sell so that they can come back and move near us. Please pray for Melissa’s Dad as doctors just discovered that he has cancer. He will be having surgery promptly when they get back to the U.S.
It has now been two years since the accident. David’s health continues to be about the same. Now that all the necessary changes are made, he is adjusting to a very simple daily life with the disability. You are welcome to check out his blog here: David’s blog.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and love for us. May God richly bless you.
PS – Our permanent address is now 1110 Bainbridge Ln. Forney, TX 75126
Prayer Letter – December 21, 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for us. We are humbled to know of your prayers, your love, and your generosity. God has used you to bless us. Though health changes have been life-dominating, God’s grace certainly has been much more abundant. As we get ready to celebrate Christ’s birth this Christmas, we praise the Lord for a few specific answers to prayer.
First, David has been approved for disability benefits. God really prepared the way for a couple of doctors appointments last month. These appointments were mandated by the disability determination office and have resulted in approval of our appeal application months sooner than what was expected. Thank you for your prayers. Though the benefit is not a huge amount, it is a means of God’s provision. In light of the benefits, our sending church and BCP have reviewed our financial needs with us. If you are a monthly supporter, you will receive a mailing with all the updated financial information within the next week or two.
Also, God gave us a home! God has worked in dozens of miraculous ways and has provided for us a home to call our own. It is in a great school district and in a nice neighborhood where we feel right at home amongst Hispanics. We are so thankful to have this “nest” for our family here in Texas. Speaking of family, there is a third blessing…
Many of you know that Melissa’s parents (Tom and Nancy Farlow, missionaries to Brazil) have moved to Texas to be near us during their months of furlough. Well, they have felt God’s leading to transition to a new ministry here in the States full-time. We are humbled yet very grateful to the Lord for the encouragement and support that they are to Melissa and our family. In the coming weeks,the Farlows will spend some time back in Brazil to close out their ministry before they transition to a new ministry here in Texas. Thank you for your prayers for them during these changes in their lives. All of our extended family has been very gracious to us.
God is good. May God richly bless you this Christmas just as you have been a blessing to us.
Prayer Letter – October 7, 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
God is good! It is wonderful to find great joy as we seek to best please Him within the extents of His sovereign will. Below, please find some quick updates:
- A new lead church planter has been approved to reach Hispanics in Lorain. God has called Orlando and Debbie Collazo to the mission field of Hispanics in South Lorain. We could not be more excited as they are a Puerto Rican couple with vision for church planting and a passion to reach individuals with the love of Christ. We could not be more grateful to the Lord.
- This month David has two key doctor’s appointments that we would appreciate your prayers for. Each of these appointments could go a long way to determine the outcome of the disability application. Every doctor David has seen so far has said that he is medically disabled. Hopefully these new appointments will give more evidence to help speed along the determination process with Social Security.
- Speaking of disability, during their last board meeting Baptist Church Planters has placed our family on a new status. For our financial supporters please know that they have given us the special missionary designation of “medically retired”. They will continue to serve us and our donors as we continue in this special missionary status.
- There is not much else to report. May God richly bless you as you seek to serve Christ with all your might.
Prayer Letter – September 2, 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
God is good! It is hard to believe that just a couple of months ago we were asking God to allow us to move near family before the beginning of the school year. Well, the move has gone well, the kids are really enjoying school here in Texas, and Hershey, the new Beagle puppy, is a delight to us all.
We thank the Lord for His marvelous grace and mercy towards us. There is really not much other news other than we are really enjoying being near Melissa’s parents. The rental house feels mostly settled. We are well on our way to David having a low key life enough so that he can have the strength to daily be able to be with the kids during supper and to be able to lead devotions.
Already God has given us families to witness and minister to. Melissa is meeting with another new mother from the school on Monday. David was able to visit a man in the hospital. He is the one who sold us the puppy. He is also disabled and greatly needs a friend. Thank you for your prayers for us as we seek to serve the Lord with our lives without the ability to be in full-time ministry.
May God richly bless you and we will be sure to keep in touch as news comes up regarding social security and other things.
Our new address is:
8775 Stonecreek Dr. Tyler, TX 75703
The Whitcher Family
Prayer Letter – July 26, 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
“He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth without iniquity, just and right is he.” – Deuteronomy 32:4
Thank you for praying with us that God would give us wisdom considering a move. We have some huge praises to share. First, we put our house on the market and it sold within three days! As a result we will be moving the middle of August to Tyler, Texas. Melissa’s parents will be there and we are in the process of making some decisions with family about how to be together long-term.
Another praise is that God has provided most of the means needed to move and to acquire a house.
Finally, there is a praise that just happened today. A few weeks ago we took a quick trip to Tyler, TX to look for housing. We found that anything within our price range were “fixer-uppers” for which David has no strength. Our last day there, we came across a beautiful new home built in 2008. It was a foreclosure but was not at all unkept nor damaged. They were asking about $25,000 under what the home was worth. We put an offer in several thousand dollars under that. We were outbid by another buyer. Well, today our realtor called and said that the buyer had fallen through and that the seller was interested in looking at our bid again! Isn’t that just like God!? We increased our offer a little and are now waiting on the Lord. If this does not come through then we will still move to Tyler and rent for a while until the right home comes along.
We are overwhelmed and so thankful for God’s sovereign hand and clear direction.
Thanks for your encouragement, prayers, and great advice. We have made the appeal to Social Security disability. This appeal is the second in a three step process. God could work it out, but those familiar with the system tell us that this appeal will likely be rejected after it is processed during the next four to six months. The third step then will allow us to make our case before a judge and provide the best chance of receiving benefits. Based on the wisdom of our doctors, sending church, and missions agency, we are committed to go the distance.
OTHER PRAYERS & PRAISES
- God has given us an incredible immediate family. We are so thankful for their sacrifice and help.
- God has prompted a Hispanic pastor and His family to consider becoming church planters to come finish the work that God has begun here in Lorain. May God’s will be done.
- After two years of asking our kids to wait until better times, we have finally decided to allow our kids to get a dog after the move. A new beagle will likely join the Whitcher ranks. There are three kidos who could not be more excited. God is good.
David, Melissa, Brittany, Tyler, & Carter
Prayer Letter – June 29, 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” – Psalm 62:5
I write this letter with a heart that is heavy, yet with an awe of who God is. As you know, we have been waiting to hear the result of our application to Social Security Disability.
A couple of weeks ago we saw a doctor that SS had us see. He said that I am absolutely disabled, but warned us that there was a high probability that we would be rejected because that is just the way the government bureaucracy works. He really encouraged us to continue with the appeal process. Then a couple of nights latter I was researching the Internet and was reminded that 60% to 70% of applicants are initially denied. 85% of those who appeal are also denied. After the appeal one is able to request a court date and make a case before a judge. It is during this third phase that the probability of acceptance is much greater.
Last week Melissa and I began thinking about, “what if we were rejected?” and began praying and considering what that would look like. On Thursday night we were especially calling out to the Lord. On our knees, in tears, Melissa and I prayed, “Lord, even if we are rejected, please just let us know so that we can move forward.” Well, the very next day we received the letter – we were rejected.
This news was not a shock to us, yet the past few days and nights I have spent much time in prayer trying to grasp it. The news has been an occasion of fresh realization of the plight that God has allowed us to be in. There are a few impressions that weigh on me the most…
- It is hard to explain the deep seated desire to formally preach God’s Word and to disciple people. This desire is only flamed by the reality that God has taken away all strength to do so. Most days, God does not give me enough strength to sit through an entire meal at the table with my family, much less anything else. Daily comfort comes in knowing that rewards in heaven are not based on the quantity of what we can do for the Lord, but instead on our relationship with the Lord and what we do with the measure of strength that He allots. My good friend Dave Little reminded me about the Israelites who died in Egypt who only knew oppression and slavery. Their endurance will be rewarded in heaven just as much as those Israelites who fought battles and entered the promised land.
- Another weight is the desire to provide for my family and not be able to. It is not just the inability to make a wage, but goes deeper into not being able to “be there” for my kids in ways I could before. I would give anything to be able to go out and to shoot hoops with Tyler who is developing a love for a game that I cannot share. When this gets discouraging God brings rebuke and comfort in reminding me that my only responsibility is to be the Dad that I need to be. I can do this by being the man that God wants me to be. God can use just that to raise children to love God and to have a heart to serve Him.
- Finally, we are very humbled to know of your love and care for us. There is not a day that goes by that we do not receive an e-mail, card, or word that someone in a far-off state or country (who we do not even know) is praying for us daily. We are not able to accomplish any type of formal ministry, yet there are those who are constantly ministering to us. Thank you so much. You have become friends in the true sense of the word. I do not know who all of you are, but I pray for you daily also. May You be walking close with the Lord and ministering with a sincere heart with all your might in your local church. It is in and through you, Christ’s church, where God’s mission is accomplished. Go for it with all you’ve got!
Soon we need to decide whether or not to attempt to appeal the Social Security decision. All my doctors are encouraging us to do so. Thanks for your prayers for wisdom as we make this decision in conjunction with our sending church and mission agency. We will update you soon.
Also, we are seeking to move in order to live near family which we feel is key to living with disability long-term. Moving off our field in Lorain and moving near family has been our greatest felt need for the past several months. We pray that God might allow us to make the move soon before the new school year begins. It is all dependent on the Lord’s provision. Thank you for praying with us about this need.
May God richly bless you,
Prayer Letter – April 28, 20011
To view or download the pdf, please clik here: Whitcher Letter – April 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
Thank you for your prayers. We have been so very humbled and grateful to hear of your burden and supplication. God is so good. If God does not allow us strength for full-time ministry we know that we can please Him just as much with whatever strength He gives. Though there are certainly moments of weakness and doubt, God has given us great joy just in knowing and accepting the fact that there is no improvement on the will of God.
During the past few weeks, God gave an unexpected turn. David has been in and out of the hospital with severe chest pains and a sustained struggle to breathe. Doctors ended up calling it sick sinus syndrome and put a pace-maker in him. The pacemaker is helping much with those particular symptoms. David is enjoying walking from one room to another without getting out of breath. All of this seems to be continued complications from damage caused by the CO poisoning. Praise the Lord for the ability to treat some of the symptoms to make the disability a little more bearable.
Speaking of disability, we continue the application with Social Security. We are three months into the process which they tell us usually takes four to nine months to complete. We continue to seek God’s wisdom and are exploring how best to adjust the sails. Please pray with us as we consider a move to live near family.
On the ministry front, we are ecstatic that our former coworkers, Herb and Wanda Taylor, have moved into the Hispanic administrative position with Baptist Church Planters. Please pray for them and for our other coworkers as they continue raising support and reaching Hispanics. Bible studies in Lorain continue as the Palmers are discipling the new believers there.
Again, thank you for your partnership. We are humbled and thank God daily for such a loving sending church and for such a great family of friends and supporters. Thank you. May God richly bless you just as you are a blessing to us.
Prayer Letter – February 2011
- View or download the pdf by clicking here: Whitcher Letter – February 2011
- Special letter from Maranatha Baptist Church: Letter from Pastor Wayne Hart
- Special letter from Baptist Church Planters: Letter from Dr. David Little
- To view a short video of David telling his story, click here: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
There is an old adage which says, “When the winds change, adjust the sails.” This letter is to inform you of some changes that we are forced to make in our lives because of David’s health. We find great comfort in knowing that only God can change the winds. Thus, these circumstances are a result of His perfect plan for our lives.
In December, doctors told us that the lingering damage on David’s body from carbon monoxide poisoning is likely permanent. We continued to do a few last tests and consulted with some national experts on the topic. To the best of our understanding, the damage on David’s brain and neurological system will not reverse themselves in the same way that a cut off leg will not grow back. We do praise the Lord that the issue was caught and that oxygen therapy did do much good in preventing worse permanent damage.
After thorough consideration with our doctors, family, sending church, and Baptist Church Planters (BCP), we have seen the need to make some major adjustments in regards to ministry. David has resigned from all administrative duties with BCP and we will be making some decisions concerning the church plant we are involved in. Last week, David applied for disability benefits. This process is involved and could take anywhere from four to nine months. We are not positive of all the details, but we certainly will keep you informed. It is our desire to be very transparent and ethical with our supporters throughout this process.
Thank you for continuing to pray for our family during the transition. It seems as though God has given Melissa the eighty percent strength which He has taken away from David. She still needs prayer, however, as she adopts a type of fourth dependent in the form of a disabled husband. Please pray also for the future of the Lorain church plant with its new believers and for BCP as they continue their effort to reach Hispanics nationwide.
A few weeks ago while considering the thought, “When the winds change, adjust the sails,” David wrote the following in his devotional journal:
“The good thing is that we know where we are headed. We have a sure destination towards which to adjust the sails. There is a Northern Star in the dark stormy sky that guides us through the tumultuous waves. This star is to please the Lord. There is a way to please the Lord in all of this. We have something to aim toward. Thus the storm does not breed confusion nor hopelessness. There is not despair nor even remorse. When you accept God’s doing and are willing to humble yourself under the circumstances then the only recourse is to adjust the sails with the purpose of heading towards that star of pleasing the Lord.”
“God has changed the winds in that He has taken away all strength for formal ministry. This has been difficult, but ultimately we praise Him for the many confirmations that our adjustments are correct. That Northern Star is getting brighter!”
We cannot fully express how much your prayers and uplifting words have meant to us. Thank you.
Prayer Letter – January 12, 2011
View or download the pdf by clicking here: Whitcher Letter – January 2011
Dear Prayer Partners,
We would like to begin by saying how very grateful we are to have you as part of our team. During this past year especially, we have coveted your prayers and your partnership. Thank you for your vital ministry as God has sustained us and blessed us despite the trials. May God give you, your family, and your church a great new year filled with God’s blessings.
Last month we asked for prayer for the father of a Puerto Rican family who has been attending our Bible study. Great news, he got saved and has been growing! His name is Freddie. Please continue to pray for him and his family. We also asked you to pray for a big evangelistic outreach in the form of a Christmas Eve service. We still had a Christmas Eve service, but only with our own little group because David’s health has not been good again and it prohibited us from organizing a larger event. Speaking of David’s health, here is an update.
Health Update from David
Unfortunately, since the beginning of November, all of my symptoms have come back. I have a body movement disorder, a cognitive impairment or a mental fog, and am operating with about 20% strength. Over the past month, doctors have doubled the oxygen treatment with no effect. The doctors are telling me that these are residual effects of the carbon monoxide poisoning and that there is no way for them to know how long they will last. A neurologist told me recently that they could last months, years, or they may never reverse themselves. We are taking this information to the Lord and will be having discussions with our family, co-workers, sending church, and mission agency during the next couple of months. Right now we are moving forward with the little that I can do while asking God to intervene and direct us into His perfect will.
The biggest burden on my heart is for my family. Please pray for Melissa especially as this is difficult for her. She is a very godly woman and has shown incredible strength, yet it is difficult for her as she drives me around, answers questions at church when I am not there, and hurts for me as she sees me struggling.
How are we doing? Pretty good. It is amazing how God gives sufficient grace and unexplainable peace. I have accepted my plight and am confident that God allows everything for a reason. I pray that God would return health soon, but if He doesn’t I know that He is good and that His ways are perfect.
Prayer Letter – December 1, 2010
View or download the pdf by clicking here: Whitcher Letter – December 2010
Dear Praying Partners,
TWO MORE SAVED Bible studies have consistent attendance and spiritual growth
There was much to be thankful for during the very first Thanksgiving service as a new little mission church. Just prior to thanksgiving, two people got saved! They expressed gratitude for their salvation and for the warmth and love they feel from others in our group.
Both converts are from the same Puerto Rican family. One was a teenage boy and the other his younger sister. This family has been coming to the study consistently for a few months. Please pray with us for the father to come to Christ.
Others in attendance are growing. The deaf man who got saved last month has finished a study in John and Romans and is hungering for more milk!
HISPANIC MINISTRY UPDATE
God is at work in great ways in BCP’s national Hispanic ministries. This week the 5th Spanish Bible Institute Class is being taught and filmed for our DVD Bible School. The class is taking place in Winston Salem, NC. BCP’s techPartner ministry is there doing the filming.
Also this week, one of our Hispanic missionaries is being ordained in Phoenix, AZ. David wishes he could be there but unfortunately is not yet able to travel.
Thank you for praying for our wonderful co-workers who are on deputation. Herb and Wanda Taylor and KellyAnne Mascarenas. God is blessing them and providing for them. We cannot wait to have them here helping us in Lorain. CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE
Our next major evangelistic outreach will be on Christmas Eve. Though without Christ, the Hispanic community in Lorain is very religious and feel that they need to be in church on Christmas. We are praying that we would be able to reach new people from the community as we invite them to the Christmas Eve service which will be held at a school building we are renting. We need God’s blessing in every detail of this event. Thank you for praying that there would be those who would come and enjoy the celebration while hearing the simple gospel—perhaps for the first time!
Thank you for your vital prayers!
David and Melissa Whitcher
Prayer Letter – November 5, 2010
View or download the pdf by clicking here: Whitcher Letter – November 2010
Dear Praying Partners,
A deaf man has been attending our Thursday night Bible study for the past several weeks. Last week he called David saying that he had just had a fight with his live-in girlfriend and wanted to talk. The man was suicidal and very distraught. Praise the Lord that after about an hour of discussion (he reads lips), the man was praying and tearfully confessing his sins to the Lord while placing his faith in Jesus Christ. The best part is that he decided to obey God and make steps to move out of his girlfriend’s house that very day! He now has a very visible desire to learn God’s Word. Thank you for praying for his continued growth.
MISSION CHURCH NAMED
We are excited to announce that the little church plant in Lorain now has a name. “Iglesia Bautista Maranatha” or “Maranatha Baptist Church” is the name of our new bilingual fellowship. We are proud to name the church after our sending church in Grimes Iowa who long ago saw God’s hand upon us and sent us out to accomplish this task. The word, “Maranatha” is Paul’s plea at the end of 1 Corinthians when he says, “O Lord come.” Our prayer is that Christ may continue to establish this fellowship into a mature church that is telling others of the good news until Christ comes. There is much work to be done! We are working really hard on the effort, but are reminded that 95% of church planting is spiritual. Thus, we are so grateful for your vital prayers as we seek God together for the advancement of this work.
The specific property we were looking at has fallen through but there are a few other possibilities on the horizon. We really sense that after four months of preparing the soil, it is God’s timing to begin a Sunday service. Lord willing, we will find a place to do this before the end of the year. We are knocking on many doors, may God open a door that no man can close!
- Good Bible study attendance
- The new believer
- Gifts that have come in for a property
- Great co-workers!
- Coworkers on deputation: Herb & Wanda Taylor and KellyAnne Mascarenas
- A meeting place so that the community will feel comfortable coming as opposed to our house.
- Nationwide BCP Hispanic Ministries
David’s health continues to be very good. Oxygen treatments will be done at the end of this month. Right now most of our family is fighting bronchitis but other than that we are over the hump.
Prayer Letter – October 5, 2010
View or download the pdf by clicking here: Whitcher Letter October 5 2010
Dear Praying Partners,
God is giving the increase to the church planting efforts in Lorain. Here are some praises: - Labor Day outreach was a success with about 50 attending. There was 1 salvation decision. - Our Thursday night Bible study has had an average attendance of a little under 20 people. We are meeting in the basement of our home and are outgrowing it! - It looks like we will have the opportunity to rent a building for Sunday services for only $500 a month.
THE RUIZ FAMILY
While participating in a church booth at the Lorain County fair, David met a Puerto Rican family of 6. He talked to them about our Bible study in Lorain. They had already heard of it as one of our co-workers had knocked on their door and invited them a few weeks before. Furthermore, it turns out that they are related to a couple that is already attending our study. The Ruiz family has been attending regularly. Just the other night we had the opportunity to talk to them for 3 hours about salvation and eternal security. They are growing spiritually and have dozens of questions. Please pray for them and the others that God has given us to minister to in the bilingual bicultural community of South Lorain.
The need for a public meeting place has been on our radar for several weeks now. We are outgrowing our home with the Bible study and we have made several contacts who indicated their interest once we start Sunday services.
The building we are considering is an old Payless Shoe Store. It is 4,100 sq ft and would give us opportunity to have an auditorium with 80 seats while having a few classrooms, a nursery, and a foyer. The asking lease rate is $1,500 a month. The property needs some work so the owner is open to letting us rent for $500 if we will do needed repairs ourselves. The building has great potential to give us a a good start with a 2 year lease. We can not imagine a better location! There are a few details that need to be worked out. Here are the prayer requests: - That the owner would work with us. - For zoning variances to use it as a church. - For $11,000 to do the needed repairs on the building and for an additional $17,000 to convert it into a church.
Thank you for praying about this need. We’ll see what God does. On Sunday we received our first gift toward the project. A 13 year old pastor’s daughter handed us $15 and said, “I hope this helps.” God is so good.
Thank you for your vital partnership!
David and Melissa Whitcher
Prayer Letter – September 1, 2010
View or download the pdf by clicking here: Whitcher Letter – September 1, 2010
BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
Praise the Lord that oxygen treatment is working for David exactly as doctors said it would. He is back to about 90% and is feeling fantastic. Tremors are gone and the doctors say that his brain images show that there should be little to no long-term effects. God is good. Oxygen treatments will continue daily until Thanksgiving.
As we ease back into the ministry, one of our main focuses is the church plant here in Lorain. Please pray specifically for an evangelistic outreach we are hosting in the form of a Labor Day picnic this Monday. The Latin Festival is the name of the outreach on Labor Day. The City of Lorain is known as the “International City” as over 70 different nationalities live within its limits. Over 15,000 of these are Hispanic who live around us in Lorain’s south side. Many are promoting, praying and trusting for at least fifty people to attend. Please ask God to bring us those who are white and ready for harvest.
MORE EFFORTS IN LORAIN
Weekly Bible studies are held. Melissa will also be teaching an ESL class during the month of September. Pray for the Palmers and some other families as we regularly canvas, invite, and build relationships.
OTHER MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES
- September 9-13 – BCP Candidate School – Grafton, OH - September 14-15 – BCP Council Meeting – Grafton, OH - September 24-25 – Teen Extravaganza @ Camp Bethany – Sinclairville, NY - October 2-6 – First Baptist Church – Wellington, OH - Nov 29 – Dec 3, – El Ministerio Bible Institute taping – Winston Salem, NC - December 4-8 – Visiting Various Missionaries – Phoenix, AZ
What a blessing to watch God answer prayer! We are grateful for the lessons God is teaching us. You have had a huge part! Thank you for your love, prayers, and gifts.
David and Melissa Whitcher
Prayer Letter – August 9, 2010
Dear Praying Partners,
“All men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; For they shall wisely consider His doing.” – Psalm 64:9
We would like to declare the work of God who has shown Himself to be completely sovereign in all things. As we consider what He is doing, there are a couple of exciting things to share with you.
First, the Lorain church plant has seen it’s first convert! Our team member, Rita Palmer, led a lady to the Lord during one of the weekly Bible studies here in a nearby park. Pray for the new believer, Karla Vasquez, to grow and for wisdom as the team follows up on her decision. Bible studies in Lorain have been going on for six weeks now with an average attendance of eight. Melissa and I have not been able to participate because of health, but maybe that will change soon.
The second major praise is that through a series of circumstances doctors found that carbon monoxide poisoning has been the source of David’s health issues. All the details are written in an additional letter below. This is a great testimony of God’s incredible grace. Treatment is underway. We are not sure what all the residual effects will be, but we are confident that the long-term prognosis is good. Praise Him!
- Our son Tyler boldly went forward yesterday in church announcing that he has made a decision to follow God’s command to be baptized.
- Much is happening with Hispanic ministries around the country. God has provided some very faithful servants in other Spanish missionaries who have been covering David’s responsibilities nation-wide during this difficult year. This is very, very exciting to observe as growth is taking place on many fronts.
- God has provided a Christian business owner to help us replace our furnace and to take care of some other related needs around our home.
Thank you so much for your love and prayers. We cannot express how God has used you to encourage us and sustain us this year. We are so very thankful for you and for your continued partnership.
May God richly bless you,
A TESTIMONY OF GOD’S GRACE
As you know, we have been looking into my health issues from every angle while asking for God’s wisdom and direction. It has been a long eight months while being very ill and with the doctors suspecting some serious illnesses. A couple of weeks ago we had an environmental inspector come and look at our home. We were curious especially about mold. He found no mold, but said that our furnace had a serious issue in that there was a gap in the piping of the flue. He recommended that we have someone come who is an expert in carbon monoxide. That carbon monoxide inspector came and sure enough, with the furnace on, he detected carbon monoxide (CO) in the furnace room. He also came upstairs and saw increasing amounts of CO fill our bathroom as the furnace ran. So, we were exposed to CO throughout the winter when the furnace ran. The CO levels were not enough to kill us, but high enough to cause health issues with long-term exposure. The inspector said over and over again, “You guys are lucky to be alive. Someone is watching out for you.” We have been having HVAC people come give us bids for a new furnace. All of them have been amazed when they see the issue and say the same thing, “You guys are lucky to be alive.”
That Sunday we mentioned the furnace leak to a physician’s assistant in our church. His first response was doubtful but he promised he would research it. By the time I looked at my cell phone that Sunday night, there were two messages from him saying that he thought that this had to be the cause of my health symptoms. He referenced a reputable physician’s website that talks about neurological damage which shows up three to four weeks after acute CO exposure. Two-thirds of the symptoms that were mentioned in the article are symptoms that I have including dizziness, vision problems, trembling, changes in gait (the way I walk), confusion, decrease cognition, etc. CO poisoning could also explain the vascular damage of the aortic aneurism.
While waiting to see my doctor, we were able to speak to a toxicologist from John Hopkins University who was recommended to us as one of the nation’s leading CO experts. He listened to my symptoms and exposure levels and said that it is very probable that CO has been the issue. He emailed a protocol and instructions to give to our doctor to do some specialized blood tests to see if there is still CO toxicity in my body. Indeed, the doctor’s office called and said, “You definitely have CO poisoning. All the blood levels are very high.”
HINDSIGHT IS 20/20
Our first response was, “If it was carbon monoxide then why didn’t the rest of the family get as sick?” The professor from John Hopkins said that if one were to place one hundred people in a room and exposed them to carbon monoxide then each person would have a different reaction to the poison. Then we got to thinking and remembering that the boys were having random episodes of throwing up in the winter. We just thought they had the flu or something. It was odd, but it was not dramatic enough for us to think twice about it. Also, throughout the winter, Brittany was walking around in a daze. She has hypothyroidism so we thought her thyroid levels were off and began the process of getting her blood levels rechecked. Now we know why her thyroid levels came back fine, yet she still had those symptoms. Also, we remember that the winter months are when Melissa was having her severe migraines followed by vomiting. Now that we know what it is, Melissa remembers doing laundry downstairs and feeling very tired and nauseated each time. Melissa and the kids mostly appear to be fine now; however, we are planning to get them checked out also.
As for me, I had mono or some other virus that they found in January. This would have compromised my immune system causing the CO to do more damage on me than the others. Plus, I was sick in bed for those first three months being only in our bedroom and the bathroom which is located immediately above the furnace. So, I was exposed to it continually whenever the furnace was on. It makes sense as Easter Sunday was the first Sunday that I felt well enough to be able to make it out to church. Coincidentally, that is when the weather began to get warm! During those winter months, I would get up to take a bath. After the bath I was so week and dizzy I would stumble back to my bed and sleep for the rest of the day. It all makes sense now. I still have no strength and have several episodes a day of being dizzy and lightheaded. They say that the oxygen treatment will take care of that.
The treatment is to be on 95% oxygen for two hours a day for four months. There may be more drastic measures needed such as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, but since the poisoning is no longer acute doctors doubt the need for this.
Doctors tell us that I should begin to feel quite a bit better after just a week. Yet, it will take up to a month for the oxygen to saturate the tissues enough for symptoms to subside. It is interesting that when I thought I was getting better (at the end of March) was right after I spent a week in the hospital. I was on oxygen that whole time! Anyway, I will need to be treated for four months total before the toxicity is gone and the blood levels normalize.
While a brain scan in February was negative, a recent MRI showed some spots beginning to develop on my brain. What CO does is it gets in your blood and attaches to the hemoglobin causing it to no longer be able to carry oxygen. During very acute CO poisoning, this lack of oxygen kills your body’s tissues (especially the brain and heart) within three to four hours. Since I was exposed to low levels for a long period of time, what they say happened is that my tissues were damaged but not immediately killed. The after effects unfortunately are that the tissues do eventually die within weeks causing damage to the central nervous system first. This is why many of my symptoms mock a neurological disease such as MS or Parkinsons.
We have read that two-thirds of patients completely recover. Others say that the tissues are damaged and there is no going back. In either case, it is unclear if and when the neurological symptoms will reverse. We’ll see how the oxygen therapy helps long-term. Some doctors are pretty confident that the brain will re-route itself and that I can experience a complete reversal of symptoms just as other patients do after suffering a stroke. The encouraging thing is that all my symptoms worsen with fatigue and exertion. So getting rid of the poison and fatigue may cause the neurological symptoms to disappear. It is in the Lord’s hands to do as He wills.
REASONS TO THANK THE LORD
- Praise the Lord that we travel a lot! We were not home much during the months of October, November, and December when the weather was getting colder and the furnace would have kicked in.
- We praise the Lord that our kids did not frequent the parts of the house where the CO was invading the most.
- Praise the Lord that it was not something worse! Carbon monoxide is of course colorless, odorless, and tasteless and often called “the great mimic” as its symptoms can appear to be a variety of diseases. Doctors feared and tested for some pretty nasty diseases. Praise the Lord that the prognosis looks good!
- Praise the Lord that this was found so that the problem would not be reoccurring this coming winter.
- Mostly, praise the Lord that the disjointed pipe off the furnace was never bumped. Each contractor who has seen the furnace said, “You guys are lucky to be alive.” We know that it is much more than that! We have been humbled to hear of those praying for us. It is amazing how many churches mentioned that we are brought up in every prayer meeting. Little did we know that all of these prayers were keeping us alive and protected us while an invisible poison invaded our home. God is so good!
It is so great to know that God is completely sovereign and in control of all things. His purposes are always perfect. We’ll see how the oxygen therapy works (after 5 days, it appears to be working well). There are still some unknowns and uncertainties. Ultimately, our hope is that I would regain strength enough to drive and to function again in ministry. At this point, it looks as though God will answer that prayer also. Please pray specifically for no long-term effects in our children. We need wisdom as we move forward.
Again, thank you so much for your love and prayers. We cannot express how God has used you to encourage us and sustain us this year. We are so very thankful for you and for your continued partnership. Thank you for considering with us what God is doing (Psalm 64:9).
PS – Please pray for First Baptist of Elyria and for Pastor Bradley Quick. This is the church that we attend here locally. Pastor Quick has been given only a couple of months to live. It is a vulnerable time for his family and for the church.
Prayer Letter – July 3, 2010
Dear praying partners,
We are constantly encouraged by the reminders of your prayers for us. Thank you so much. Recently, Davidʼs health has turned towards the worse. He can no longer drive and he has been having spells of extreme chest pain with a struggle to breathe. His muscle tremors also continue daily. Praise the Lord that it is not his heart as far as doctors can tell. They are also confident that it is not a normal chronic disease such as Parkinsons or MS which were originally suspected. We are confident that God has an answer and that He will show us in a time and place that will best glorify Himself. As you continue to pray for us, above all else, please pray that God would give us wisdom. We cannot wait to write the prayer letter someday that explains how God will have worked and the lessons that He taught us no matter the outcome.
Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago on our way to a Dr.s appointment we were in a car accident which totaled our van. The other vehicle was totaled also, but we praise the Lord that no one was hurt. Praise God also that we have another vehicle to get us by around town. We are saving and praying for another road-worthy family vehicle for ministry.
Good news! A summer interim from FBBC is in the area and is able to help with a Lorain church plant. Just last night a few families got together for the first study. No unsaved from the community came; however, they enjoyed much time in prayer and are organizing themselves to make contacts. Pray for Ralph and Rita Palmer, some of our co-workers, as they head up this effort in Davidʼs absence.
Other encouraging news is that Melissaʼs parents were able to visit for a couple of weeks from Brazil. We enjoyed time with them and other family. Watching the Soccer World Cup was especially exciting with such avid Brasil fans. You have never seen so many Brasil flags and shirts in one place in the United States, as the little farm house where we vacationed with them in Illinois.
May God bless you,
David and Melissa Whitcher