Dear Pastor and Church Family, January/February 2020
We have so much to be thankful for! We arrived in Italy around noon on the 26th of February. In the time leading up to our departure, we were able to spend some quality time with our church family, and that was such a blessing. God also allowed our packing process to go smoothly as well and we ended up with just the right amount of bags to get all of our things over to Italy. We had 19 bags and totes in total, and I had calculated that we would be paying $1,700 in baggage fees, even with our free bags. After our check-in was all said and done we only paid $700 in baggage fees. That was certainly a great way to start the journey!
Upon our arrival in Bologna, we were greeted by men in bright-orange, bio-suits. They were screening all of the passengers for the Coronavirus. I’m praising the Lord that we did not have it, nor did we get stuck in a random city along the route due to flight cancelations. Our flights went from Chicago to London, and then from London to Bologna. On that same day, the flight from London to Milan had been canceled. In Bologna itself, you do see people wearing masks around town, but other than that it does seem like it is busniss-as-usual for most people. The virus is becoming a big deal in Italy, but at the end of the day, we know that God is in control and He has it all figured out.
Please pray for us as we continue to press on. We got tax ID’s for everyone this past Friday and that in itself was a miracle. We walked in the office as many others were waiting already. In essence, the man at the front let us skip the line and we were done in about an hour. Please pray for our housing, as many catch-22 situations are directly linked to having a house. Please pray for my wife. The final days of packing and travel have caused some post-natal pain. There is so much more to say, but this I know: God has been good!
The Keister Family
Jan Feb 2020 Click to download and print
Dear Pastor and Church Family, October 2019
The month of October is now over and it has been a very busy month. Our travels took us up and down the West Coast and to Texas. We went from Southern California to British Columbia, and then I hopped over to Texas for a conference. We have just a few more meetings left to go to and from there we’ll start winding down our deputation travels. Lord willing we will see the last bit of our support come in over the next couple of months. The remainder of our time in the states will be spent with our church family, as well as preparing for the coming of our baby, and our departure for the field. Our tickets to Italy are purchased and we will depart February 25, 2020!
We are going to move out of our motorhome at the end of November. Please pray the process will go smoothly, and that the Lord will provide a buyer for it as well. We are all a little sad, as it has been our home for the last 2 years while we’ve been on the road. I think my children will miss it the most. We praise the Lord for the stability that it has given our family as we’ve been on deputation.
One of the great highlights of the month was the opportunity we had to soulwinning in British Columbia. It was truly one of the most unique times of doorknocking that I’ve ever had. At each door we met someone from a different country in the world. We were able to get out a number of tracts and a few people took bible studies. My children also enjoyed seeing so many people in their traditional Middle Eastern, Indian, African and East Asian clothes.
Please pray with us about our housing in Italy. We have a place reserved for the first month after we arrive, but we are already looking for more permanent housing. We have found a place that we really like. Pray for wisdom and the Lord’s will in this matter.
The Keister Family
October 2019 Click to download and print
Dear Pastor and Church Family, August 2019
The month of August has now come to a close and we are excited about getting to the end of the summer. We started out the month with meetings in North Dakota and finished out the month in Iowa. The Lord allowed us to cultivate a number of new friendships and we also had opportunities to visit with other dear friends in the ministry. We finished out the month at 92% support. This is so exciting as we are starting to see a bright light at the end of the deputation tunnel!
When we were up in North Dakota, we had a number of opportunities to go out on visitation. This gave us a chance to get more acquainted with the community. One thing that had surprised us about the area was how ethinically diverse that part of the country was. When we stopped at the Walmart, my children got to see Muslim women for the first time. Emma was really excited about seeing the ladies in their Hijabs. As we were standing in the checkout line, Emma said in her not so quiet voice, “Dad, I want to wear one of those things on my head too!” That was quite the blessing, but it did allow us to have a great teaching moment when we got back to the car.
I was able to chat with Max this last week and I would ask you to please continue to pray for him as the devil wants to hinder his discipleship and growth. Catholicism is all he has ever known, but we know the truth of scripture can overcome all of the obstacles he is facing.
We are coming into the Fall conference season and are going to be very busy. Please pray that God will give my wife grace as we continue traveling. We had a good doctor visit a few days back and our son is growing very well. Our travels will wind down in mid-November, and from there we’ll start preparing for the coming of the baby and our departure for the field. Thank you all for your friendship, prayers, and support.
The Keister Family
August 2019 Click to download and print.
Dear Pastor and Church Family, July 2019
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah: for a new name has been written down in glory! We did a few test ads for our webpage at the end of May and into June, and a man from Bologna responded to one of the last ads that we had put out. He was very insistent on having a one-on-one Bible Study. It took a few weeks, but we were able to coordinate a meeting time with Bro. Brandon Cook, a missionary that is laboring West of Bologna. The meeting was set for Thursday the 11thand the man asked to meet at the “school” where he works. The man expressed that he had been in the process of becoming a priest some 10 years ago, but had stopped because of sin in his life that could not be reconciled from the Catholic perspective. He had also been studying the Bible on his own and had come to the conclusion that a number of Catholic teachings did not line up with God’s Word, but he thought God would not accept him because of the sin he was dealing with. After nearly two hours and a thorough explanation of the Gospel, this man bowed he head and trusted Christ in the conference room of the Catholic University that trains priests in Bologna. Please pray for Max as he will have many obstacles to face as he begins the discipleship process.
There were a number of exciting things took place in the month of July. We saw our support bump up to 88% and are praising the Lord for how He has blessed. We found out that we are expecting a baby boy. Now we’ll begin the process of picking the right name for him. We were also able to be at the H.O.P.E. Conference at our home church this month. The preaching, marriage counseling course, and the graduation of some of the Victory Ranch men were all a blessing. We also received a generous love offering that was designated for the translation project. This will allow us to continue moving forward with it, and it is exciting to see how God has already brought forth fruit from it. Thank you all, for your prayers and support.
The Keister Family
July 2019 Click here to download and print
Dear Pastor and Church Family, June 2019
We are getting into the Summer months and things are certainly heating up. There is much to discuss in this month’s prayer letter. We completed our final journey to the Northeast and the Lord truly blessed. We had really great meetings, spent some good quality time with my wife’s family, and were able to obtain the paperwork we needed for Italian citizenship. Much was accomplished and we had a number of churches that expressed their intent to partner with us in this ministry.
Major news announcement:We found out that we are expecting and will be adding a new baby to our Italian Band on January 5, 2020. This news is very exciting for our family! Our initial plan was to leave for the field in the second half of January, but now we are going to move our departure tentatively to February 25, 2020. This will allow my wife time to recover and also allow us to get the baby’s paperwork and passport taken care of. We are going to continue pressing on with the rest of our meetings. We’ll make another pass through the Midwest during the Summer and another pass through the far West, which will take us into November.
Please pray with us as we continue with our meetings over the next few months. Lord willing we will see the rest of our support come in during that time. Please pray for safety, as there are still many miles to travel. Also, our pastor has given us a book to read that deals with transitions. Please pray that the Lord will bless as we get ready to make the transition from the constant travel of deputation to the packing and downsizing of our earthly things, to the addition of a new baby, and our moving to a foreign land. God has been good through it all and we are thankful for those who have come along side with us in both prayer and financial support.
The Keister Family
Click to download and print: June 2019
Dear Pastor and Church Family, May 2019
This past month, there were a number of tornadoes in the state of Oklahoma. It has been a very active season. We had a whirlwind of a month as well. There was so much going on in a number of different areas. We spent the first half of the month finishing up meetings in the states of Texas and Oklahoma. From there we headed up to the Northeast, dodging tornadoes all the way there! We praise the Lord because we ended the month with 81% support.
One of the highlights of the month was an opportunity we had, as a family, to witness to a young couple in Amarillo. My wife and I, and our children were all there at the door and they allowed us to share our testimonies and an extensive presentation of the gospel. They both listened very intently. We really enjoy watching the Lord use our rambunctious babies as a means of giving us opportunities to be a witness.
We rolled out our online ministry tool this month and I’m super excited about that. The website is launched completely in English and also has the materials that we’ve had translated into Italian. We did a test run by boosting the English part of the site and nearly 40,000 people received the ads. There were over 1,100 link clicks (that means a person clicked on the ad and was directed to the webpage), and we sent out 10 Italian Bible studies. That was so exciting to see the response just in English. The system is automated so people in Italy can receive God’s Word and Bible studies even while we are sleeping. We still need to do more work on the site and need more funds (roughly $5,000) to completely finish translating all of the materials and Bible studies into Italian. Right now we have the ability to start saturating Bologna and the surrounding area with the Gospel in preparation for our arrival. The goal is to see the online conversations turn into face-to-face encounters.
We will continue to press on.
The Keister Family
May 2019 – Click to download and print
Dear Pastor and Church Family, March 2019
March was certainly a very busy month with weddings, funerals, and a number of missions conferences. We rejoiced with those that rejoiced, wept with those that wept, and labored earnestly through the midst of it all. Lord willing, we will see some great fruit from this month.
One of the major highlights was the meeting that we had at the Italian Consulate in Houston. They did not say yes, but they also didn’t say no. We have some more work to do to satisfy the requirements laid out by the agent at the Consulate. We have already sent some requests for documents over to Italy. Please pray that we will be able to get the documents and apostilles without having to make a special trip to Italy.
It is amazing how God sets up divine appointments. I had an opportunity to share my testimony and the message of the Gospel with a man of Italian heritage that lived in the countryside of Mississippi. Just a few days ago I was sitting in a hotel lobby in Washington State and a man from India was sitting in the next seat over. We got to talking and God allowed me to share the Gospel and my testimony with him. Praise the Lord for the seeds that have been planted.
We received some very generous love offerings this month and that has allowed us to start moving forward with one of the translation projects that we have. It is exciting to think that we’ll be able to go live with the online evangelistic tools that we want to use to reach Italians and others with the Gospel. Please pray that God will continue to provide more financial resources so we can expand on the work that has begun. Also, pray that God’s Word will work in the heart of the person that is doing the translation work for us. It would be so exciting to see the translator get saved.
The Keister Family
March 2019 – Click to download and print
Dear Pastor and Church Family, February 2019
Some of the words from the song Softly and Tenderlycome to mind when I think about how quickly this year is going. The third verse starts out by saying, “Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing.” Time is flying by and so did the month of February! We had meetings in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana, and Texas. The Lord allowed us to have a fruitful time in the Southeast. We’re thankful for the new friendships and ministry partners that we gained during this time.
Since we have started deputation, we’ve noticed a pattern of spiritual warefare that comes as we close out one segment of our journey and prepare for the next. At the beginning of 2018, there were many thoughts of fear of the unknown. In the second half of the year there were thoughts of doubt even after the Lord showed Himself strong during the first half of the year. As we’ve finished our Southeast tour and started preparation for the next leg of the journey, there has been an overwhelming sense of a presence of evil, as though the Devil is trying to tell us that he has us in his crosshairs. In each step of this process God has been teaching us to rely on Him. I believe God is now trying to remind us of our need for deep and meaningful prayer, as that is the only true means of victory in the spiritual battles that lie ahead.
We are gratetful for those that have come along side to join us in this endeavor. We are thankful for those that labor and give of their fianancial resources, and we are thankful for those that sacrifice their time to go to the Throne of Grace on our behalf. Please pray for safety as we travel and that God would bless as we come into the Spring conference season!
The Keister Family
February 2019 – Click do download PDF
Dear Pastor and Church Family, January 2019
We started out the new year hitting the ground running! January began with a few meetings in Texas and from there we made our way out to the Gulf Coast. I must admit that I did boast to some at our home church that we would be enjoying the warm sunshine for the rest of winter, but God allowed the weather to be actually quite chilly. Nonetheless, God has blessed this month in some incredible ways. One of those blessings was the fact that seven churches expressed their intent to start supporting us. That was exciting!
On the citizenship front we also took a huge step forward. We finally received the final document that we had been waiting on and have already sent it off to get the Apostille attached. We’ll move forward with getting everything translated into Italian in the next few weeks. After that it is a matter of waiting for an appointment time to open up at the Consulate in Houston. The next major matter of prayer in this process is that the people at the Consulate will approve the application.
This month I had a unique opportunity while we were out soulwinning in a predominately Catholic area in southern Mississippi. It is a really great conversation starter when I tell Catholics that we are going to Italy as missionaries. They will usually ask why. One older gentleman, named Steven, invited my soulwinning partner and I into his house, gave us bottled water, and had a rather lengthy conversation with us. He opened up about the loss of his wife and the time that he spent in Vietnam. Hopefully, the seeds that were sown will lead to Steven eventually coming to know the Lord.
January certainly was an incredible month and we look forward with excitement to the things God has in store for this next month.
The Keister Family
January 2019 – Click to download and print.
Dear Pastor and Church Family, December 2018
Matthew 1:21 says, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” This December was unlike any other! We started out the month with meetings in Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. God allowed us to have a number of wonderful meetings during the first half of the month. From there we were able to spend about a week-and-a-half in Oklahoma City. This allowed us to get some much needed rest, but also some wonderful fellowship with the members of our church. The time we took to slow down and remember Christ’s birth has also helped us to refocus our eyes on the reason why we are doing what we are doing: the salvation of souls and the establishment of local churches. Right after the holiday we were back to business and spent the last Sunday of the month in Missouri. Praise be to God that He has blessed and we concluded the year at 56% support!
As we reflect on this past year, we must thank God that He has allowed us to go through the refining and preparation process we call Deputation. There isn’t enough room to speak of the work that God does in our hearts and lives as we go through this process. The lessons learned in faith are priceless.
We want to say a special word of thanks for those that sent birthday greetings to my wife and son. Those cards were certainly a blessing. A word of thanks is also due to those that sent us Christmas gifts, cards, and monies. We are thankful that God has given us so many incredible ministry and prayer partners.
2019 is quickly upon us and we are hitting the ground running. We are excited to see what God has in store for this year!
The Keister Family
december 2018 – Click to download