Sunday, February 21, 2010

Surely we did more than eat...

This past week, we hosted another annual team from Canada. Every year, Global Youth Network sends us a team of student leaders to hang out with us in Modesto, learn about how we do outreach here and hopefully glean some useful stuff along the way. It was a great week but looking through my pictures, I'm having a hard time finding anything that doesn't involve food.

Of course, we started the week with our customary story telling tour of the places we have and do work in the city. And we end it at the taco trucks...of course...that's to be expected.

Yeah, but then we did a BBQ on South 9th Street

Well, yes...that's food too, I guess. Arley got creative and had his burger on a doughnut instead of a bun...

And Gilad and Trista gave it a shot...

But yeah, we did other, uh, we...

Reconnected with the kids! Yes, we reconnected with our kids group in the Airport we are playing soccer with the kids...

Right after we ate beans and rice with them at the park.

But seriously, we also did things like meet up with some ministry and initiative leaders to hear their heart for their neighborhoods. And the only picture I have of that is of the team picking eat...

Ok, we ate. Alright, we admit it, we ate!

Oh, and we did take them into San Fransisco to see the sights...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The best explanation of fasting I've come across...

Here we are on the eve of the traditional Lenten season. In fact, by the time I finish writing this, "Fat Tuesday" will be over and Ash Wednesday will have begun. This begins the forty days leading up to Easter when many Christians of all kinds of traditions fast in some way. Whether you choose to fast at this time or not, I thought I'd share excerpts from the best explanation of fasting I have come across...from Stephen King's classic novel, "The Stand",

"The casting away of things is symbolic....When you cast away things you are also casting away the self-related others that are symbolically related to those things. You start a cleaning out process. You begin to empty the vessel.

"...take an Break his TV, and what does he do at night? take away all his books, all his friends and his stereo. Also remove all his sustenance except what he can glean along the way. It's an emptying out process and also a diminishing of the ego.

"If you read your Bible, you'll see that it was pretty traditional for these prophets to go out into the wilderness from time to time...the time span given for these jaunts was usually forty days and forty nights, a Hebraic idiom that really means 'no one knows how long he was gone, but it was quite a while.'

"Now think of yourself as a battery. ...everything you think, everything you do, it all has to run off the battery. Like the accessories in a car.

"Watching TV, reading books, talking with friends, eating a big dinner...all of it runs off the battery. A normal Western civilization (is) like running a car with power windows, power brakes, power seats, all the goodies. But the more goodies you have, the less the battery can charge. True?

"Well, what we've done is to strip off the accessories. We're on charge."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Whitler Update 2/11/10

Hi folks, Chris here with a quick update and some links about our family, life and work...

We celebrated Christmas and the new year with my sister, Christianne and my Dad back in Kentucky. We had a good extended visit with them for three weeks. The past year has brought much pain and change for my family. Dad is now in a nursing home and we got to see him quite a bit. My Sis has come through the most difficult battle of her life this past year. It was so good to be there to spend the season with them. Many folks gave to make this trip possible, some that don't even know us, but know and love my sister. We are grateful. You can read more about our trip HERE.

In January, we saw 1/3 of our YWAM team off to Thailand for a 3 month mission. The whole Sustar family is working with our good friends at Compasio on the Thai/Burmese border, supporting ministry to vulnerable children and families there. You can follow their work at their family blog HERE. Please pray for the Sustars and Compasio.

At the end of January, I traveled to Tijuana, Mexico to meet with all the Youth With A Mission ministry directors in the Southwest region of the US. It was a refreshing 2 days of relationship building, sharing struggles and praying for one another. To see all the variety and creativity represented in Youth With A Mission, visit the new improved international homepage at

Amie continues her involvement with our local junior college dance community. She's taking more classes and is entering a piece she is choreographing into a community concert. She's also giving dance lessons at our church. You can see her piece from last year's show HERE.

The kids are great. We had a blast with them in Kentucky. Stella had so much fun with her cousin, Emma and is happy to be home, attending Awana, playing at church and wishing for Gabriel (the youngest Sustar) to come home from Thailand. Sam loves puzzles, any kind of game and trying to scare me when I come out of the bathroom. Josh is still aspiring to be the next Stephen Spielberg and is continually thinking of new story lines for movies. We even entered a short film contest together...but more on that later.

February, March and April will bring a series of visiting teams to Modesto. Tomorrow, Aaron and I pick up a team from Global Youth Network in Canada who'll be with us for leadership training for a week. We'll host Spring Break teams from Fresno and Sacramento in March and April.

We're also hosting The Wason's from YWAM Canada's Word to Life, who are back in our area for a Spring tour. John will bring his performances of the book of Colossians and Jonah. If you're local and think your church would like to host one of these unique and creative performances, contact me for booking.

We continue to reach out to the poor of our city, to serve the local body of Christ and to explore how we can support the vision of our local and international partners. If you're local, c'mon out for a coffee at the 9th St. cafe, Friday mornings, 10:30 - 12. If you're not local, get a team together and come spend a week with us learning how to do simple outreach ministry. You can take what you learn here back home and on other mission trips. We'd love to work with you.

Support - If you would like to support our work financially, all donations are tax deductible when made out to YWAM and sent to: YWAM / P.O. Box 3000 / Garden Valley, TX / 75771-3000. Our name must not appear on the check, but include a separate note stating the gift is for the Whitler's work in Modesto, CA.

Thanks so much!

Here's how to find us online...

Family site/blog -

Amie on Facebook -

Chris on facebook -

YWAM site -

Chris on Twitter -

Our Podcasts -

Monday, February 08, 2010

St. Francis broke his iPod

On my first mission trip with YWAM in Germany, there was a crazy, old missionary that insisted we all watch the movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” which dramatizes pieces of St. Francis’ life. It’s 70’s, “hippie” atmosphere is off putting at first...a bit funny. But when we watched it that cold night in Augsburg in the Winter of ’91, something happened in me. It is a formative film in my life and has informed choices I have made ever since. It has definitely been a part of the journey here to Modesto. When I go and speak at other places, I am now the crazy, old YWAMer subjecting a new generation to some 70’s awesomeness. The sound track is Donavan for Pete’s sake!

So I have tried to walk in some of Francis’ footsteps after encountering this story. I have pursued a simpler life. I long to commit to relationships more readily than to consumerism. I do not like to have a lot of stuff. I rarely own the latest and greatest. And I long for a simple faith. A faith grounded in the gospel of Jesus, not the christian bookstore. A faith that can flourish in simplicity, humility and community. Sounds good, huh?

Well now I do have some nice things and I get to do extraordinary things from time to time. Most, if not all, were given to me. My laptop is often one of the best computers in the was a gift. My Takamine guitar was pure grace. Our family van was a gift. Our flights to Kentucky this year were provided and two years ago, we went to Disneyland as a family, that was from a secret collection done by a friend.

Until December, I thought having an iPod would always be out of the question. There are always more important things to spend our money on. I have a for cassette tapes that I still use and a CD walkman that plays MP3 CDs...who needs an iPod? I’ve always really wanted one and have managed to suppress the urge.

Then, over Christmas, my nephew got a new 3G iphone with no immediate plans for his old (original) one. He gave it to me. I was able, with the help of some internet downloads, to jail brake it so I could use it without a Sim card as an iPod touch! Music, podcasts, audio books and apps galore! Woo hoo! A dream come true for me. Oh and the kids love it too. You should see Stella playing the Tinkerbell game. So cute.

Today, I followed links to a routine iPhone software update that I didn’t realize I shouldn’t do. The software updated and the dern thing locked up again and the jail braking program wasn’t written for this new system. It’s locked.

St. Francis broke his iPod.

I was surprised to find that I loved this thing so much. I was sad all day. I sulked. I was dark and depressed. I was testy with Amie and the kids. I pouted and wasted a lot of time trying to fix it.

It surprised me how much this thing affected me. I had to consciencely put it away. I had to talk myself down from being too sad over this thing. How sneakily possessions can creep in and steal us from the real stuff of life.

I want my life to be marked, not by possessions or even accomplishments, but by relationships..interactions with the living God, family and friends and my community.

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." ~ Jesus (Luke 12:15)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

This would have been a lot funnier a month and a half ago but...

Well, I thought I'd waste some time and Avatarize the Whitlers. For your consideration:

Me, Chris...


Josh...pretty good...

The best of the bunch in my opinion...Sam...

And finally...Stella...

Ok, just for fun...John Rosenbaum...