The Chastains March 2018 Newsletter: A pivot point

Greetings!  The following are excerpts from Charlie’s recent visit to Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece.

January 26:  “I saw an Afghan man get beat up pretty bad this morning by the police.

The police needed to be here as the crowd was quite desperate and unruly. You could feel the situation ramping up through the breakfast distribution.

As a dozen (out of a thousand) were trying to exploit the situation and causing havoc in a very tight space, the Afghan man was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was doing what he was told, following orders and waiting his turn. He wasn’t part of the problem.

When it was over, the police officer was sobbing with regret. When the shoving got out of hand, (the Afghan man) was caught in the middle and bore the brunt of the police frustration. The aid group was in shock, some of us in tears.

The rest of the distribution I walked the line and begged the refugees not to argue with the amounts of food given or to do anything to make a scene.

At the end of breakfast I stood with the beaten Afghan man who was standing by the gate sobbing. All I could do was put my hand on his shoulder and say I’m sorry and tell him it will be ok.

But no one really knows if it will be ok. This is a scene that plays out daily here.

Pray for the refugees. Pray for the police. Both are enduring this crisis from different sides of the same goal. Pray that patience, gratitude, grace and peace will win the rest of the day.”

January 25:  “With temperatures hovering around 40F (5C) during the day and dipping to freezing at night, a quarter of the kids I’m seeing are walking around without socks…”  


There are many other stories and reflections to tell.  We encourage you to check out this video page to see all of the video updates Charlie made leading up to and while working in the camp during his trip in January:

TMS-Global also reported on Charlie’s time in Moria, which can be found here:

We want you all to see these videos and read these stories because while the refugee crisis is no longer front page news, it is still ongoing.  And in many ways, because of the minimal attention conditions are getting much worse.  

For example, an experienced representative from Doctors Without Borders recently stated that the harmful conditions in Moria Refugee Camp had now surpassed those of refugee camps in Mosul, Iraq.  (

One is in a war zone.  The other is in Europe.  It is a hard situation to fathom.  But we have witnessed the European reality ourselves.  

In the past few months, it feels like things have changed.  Miki and I believe that we in the Church are at a pivotal point.  It is clearer now than ever that we are witnessing a generational crisis resulting from this mass migration, and that the global impact of this situation will not go away anytime soon.

We can feel the Spirit moving.  Friends of ours from all over the world are in transition.  Some are moving on from one location and expanding into others.  Some of them are transitioning to refugee aid as we have.  Slowly the focus is shifting towards this massive movement of people wandering the earth without a home.  Change is upon us as well.    

On Tuesday, Charlie will travel to Torino, Italy where he hopes to finalize plans to move our family there by the end of March. 

Miki talked a bit about this in a recent Facebook post:  

“This may not come as a big surprise to most folks, but after almost a year of discussion and prayer on this, our family has decided to make another international move. We will be leaving Estonia in March, and will head down to Northwestern Italy. Many refugees have died attempting to walk through the mountains along the northwestern border of Italy into France, and many continue to reside in that region, including many unaccompanied youth. We also feel this move will allow us to be better positioned to support the ongoing work in camps and with partners in Greece and Serbia. 

This was not originally a part of our long-term plan in Europe. For a few years there we had imagined that we would raise our kids in Estonia. And we have enough experience with international moves into new cultures and languages and visa processes to know how much of a toll they can take. So this is not a decision we have made lightly. But there just comes a point at which the convictions and guidance of our own meager conceptions of God’s work of grace and faithfulness in our own lives can no longer be ignored. We know very well the risks of failure in this move. But our fears and worries are no longer able to drown out the small, unrelenting little whisper that has been building inside of our gut: “We have to at least try.” 

We are hoping to gain residency in Italy by moving Charlie’s studio down and starting a business. Of course, we will have a lot of expenses through this process and are only beginning to learn of the new struggles we will face in this new place. We know that we are not able – nor are we meant – to do this on our own. We hope that some folks might be willing to come and see us once we get established to learn more about the work there. We hope others will decide to become more directly engaged in helping us develop and implement resources and support for the refugees and workers there. (And for those who are wondering, I have a quiet hope on the ways this move is going to play into the work God has been continuing to do in the development of a place for prayer and retreat with Him, in Estonia and throughout Europe.) Thank you very much for your continued prayers and support, and for your love for us and our kids. We are looking forward to what God is doing in this next season of our lives together. With love in Him…”


Because of your faithfulness, we have been pretty secure with funding for a few years now.  But as our work has expanded, the financial needs have been ramping up as we have tried to do more and more in these difficult situations.  We believe that we will need to raise a bit more monthly support to offset the higher living expenses in Italy and as we begin to focus more on fundraising specifically for our special projects account. 

It is hard to describe how often our special projects account has been able to make a difference in the last few years.  Even with this recent visit to Moria:  when we saw that kids had no socks, the special projects account gave us the ability to buy the needed socks.  Additionally, the floor inside Moria’s food distribution tent was rotting and moldy from years of harsh weather and foot traffic. With special project funds, we were able to replace the floor with a more sanitary material that will last longer and give the refugees a healthier place to eat.        

So if you have ever been on the fence about financially supporting this work, we would love for you to join us now.  If you’re already a supporter, we’d love for you to help us by telling others about these needs.  Tell family members, pastors, co-workers, and friends.  Tell your Sunday School Classes and Civic Clubs.  As this work expands, so should the number of partners.  And as our posts and newsletters have attested, these problems are too big for just a few of us to take on.  We’d love your help in the spreading the word.  

Finally, during the months of March and April, would you please pray for us?  Pray for this move and for the transition for our family.  Pray for connections to be made and for smooth movement through unfamiliar bureaucracies as we move our residency from Estonia to Italy.  Pray for an abundance of resources, patience and rest while we grieve leaving one home and celebrate learning about a new one.  We promise you, we covet each and every prayer.  

We love you and thank you for all that you do for us and for the Kingdom.  Hopefully, our next update will be coming from our new flat in Italy.

Every Blessing to you and yours,

Charlie, Miki, Isabel, Jasper, and Celia


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Seeking God’s Will…

In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion around the sort of work that Charlie and I have been doing here in Europe. That discussion has involved a great deal of consideration of what we believe is “God’s will” for our family in this season, and whether we are maintaining an appropriate “focus” in our efforts to serve within the local communities here. For the sake of transparency within these discussions, I think I should begin by offering some disclaimer:

First, I am not a particularly wise person. Of course, I very much desire to know the ways and the will of God, but my “discernment” of His will is at best tainted with my own sinful nature and desires. At it’s worst my discernment of God’s will is just flat wrong. 

I am not a righteous person. Even on my very best day I deserve nothing more than the darkest depths of hell. I constantly struggle with the deceptions of self and entitlement. I often trip myself up, mired in some strange perception of my own “rights” – my right to be respected, even honored by people. My right to speak. My right to be heard. And I continue to seek my own sense of worth not by who I am in substance, but by what I can do, by what man sees me do. If I’ve apparently accomplished something “noble,” then I swell up with pride. If I fail to accomplish that “good thing” or meet that expectation, then I sink deeply into shame and condemnation. Even at my best, any real influence of a knowledge of or faith in God’s unfailing Word and love in my life is barely noticeable.

One of the common complaints against those of us working within the Western Church is that we do not know how to form or maintain authentic community with others. We always seem to approach new relationships with an agenda. I have been on both sides of this issue. That is, I have at times treated others as little more than a means for me to accomplish my own goals (or worse, as little more than a hinderance to those goals). On the other hand, other relationships that I believed to be genuine friendships have turned out to be no more than attempts to gain something through me. This sort of thing has happened enough times that I now struggle more with issues of trust and honesty in relationships, and often approach new relationships with a greater degree of skepticism and defense than I used to. (This is true even as I recognize that it is precisely with this same type of agenda that I almost always approach God.)

I know that when I speak this way about my weaknesses and struggles – particularly in the context of ministry – it makes people uncomfortable. But I think that it is so important, particularly as we attempt to serve others through our faith, that we recognize our own desperate need for the grace of God. The bottom line is that any service that I attempt to provide for others is going to be poor service, particularly as it is measured against the example of the life of service offered by Christ Himself. I know that everything I do in the name of Christ will be marred by my own pride, my own prejudice, my own sense of self-righteousness and entitlement. The revelation of this can be enough some days to make me want to give up all together, whatever that means.

I also am recognizing more clearly the blinding effects of some of my personal struggles – such as distorted perceptions of benevolence and spiritual superiority – in determining God’s calling in my life. For example, through the years I have become more aware of the devastating effects of pride in my life – which is not so unlike a spiritual cancer of the soul, seeking to consume and snuff out the good and sacred things, things like faith, and hope, and love. The fact is that much of the calling of God in my life is designed primarily to save me from the temptation of my own pride, the danger of my own spiritual death. Whenever opportunities for “ministry” or “service” make my own soul more vulnerable to the deceptions of self-righteousness or pride, it is by His grace and mercy that God often pulls me back and closes my mouth. 

Yet somehow, even through the thick film of my own sin and brokenness, consistently the grace and authority of God prevails, often abundantly and overwhelmingly. I really don’t know what to do with this reality – the reality of His unmoving love for me, and for the people I hurt, and the people who hurt me. The tendency for measuring my worth – the measure of how much I deserve to be loved – by my successes and failures is so deeply engrained in me. The notion that I don’t have to do anything – that nothing I can do will change the way God feels about me – leaves me sort of dumbfounded, and in awe, and a little frightened. 

There is nothing I can do. I can’t draw God nearer to me, and neither can I push Him away. My efforts to influence Him are not unlike attempting to stand on a beach and stop a towering tidal wave with my outstretched arms. He cannot be conquered. He cannot be moved. Even if I choose to ignore His presence, avoid meeting His gaze, He isn’t going anywhere. Whether I am ever willing to accept it through Christ or not, He loves me dearly, no matter what I do.

This revelation really changes the perspective of our discussions on “God’s will.” I have begun to recognize how strictly I have limited the movement and purposes of God in and through our lives. When I first began to get of sense of His calling years ago, I put very narrow parameters on that calling. I received His calling to seek humility in service to others, and to seek real understanding of what it means to love Him and to love my neighbor. However, I assumed that this was a calling only to a specific group of people, from a very specific region of the globe, in a very specific time, and through a very specific means.

My distorted assumptions about God’s will have been based on a ridiculous notion that I might exert some control over His purposes and ways in my life. One impact of recognizing this deception has been a shift in the conversation of “God’s will” away from trying to sort out specific details – such as where we should serve, or which sort of ministry we should undertake – towards one, fundamental truth: that God’s will for each one of us, the reason that He Himself came to die for us, is so that we may each begin to comprehend the depth and authority of His love for us. Everything that He directs in our lives will be aimed towards that crucial purpose, and it is against the standard of God’s love that we must measure our perceptions of His will and calling in our lives. Without this, no other criteria we may use will be of any worth at all.

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Checking In…

Since beginning my studies in seminary almost 18 months ago, I have often found myself barely able to keep my head above water. While in the midst of a semester with 3-4 classes along with my other responsibilities, I am pretty much operating at my capacity (sometimes just a little beyond it) at all times. 

For this reason, some of my favorite pastimes have been forced to take a seat backstage for the time being, and this includes writing for this blog. This does not mean that I am not writing. In fact, I am not sure I have ever written so intensely in my life as I am currently in seminary, particularly for the online courses. But, we have decided that I will not take an intensive course for the January semester this year, so I am free from studies until the first week in February. So, I thought I’d try to use some of this time to touch base a little.

In this brief time, there are a few issues I would like to address. But as I only have a few weeks here, along with other areas of life that need some attention, I ask for grace as I may tend to ramble and meander through various streams of thought (although this may allow for a greater sense of intimacy, as this is the way I generally communicate in person as well). 

As I have had the opportunity to study a bit more the lives and writings of believers who have come and gone through the history of the Church, one of the things that has become clear to me is how very flawed each of these individuals truly was. Maybe there were issues of misogyny, or bigotry, or dangerous tempers. But all of them – ie Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, Luther, Wesley – all had their own “thorns” that we in the modern Church often try to gloss over or ignore all together. I believe this highlights our strong inclination to idolatry. This practice may also allow us to set up the men and women who have gone before us in the Church on such high pedestals that we sort of our give ourselves an “out” from trying to walk out our own lives with the same sort of discipline and sacrifice that they exemplified. 

Recently, I was reading through the second Psalm, and was struck by the first paragraph: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’” (Psalm 2:1-3).

I’d never noticed this accusation against the kings of the earth before, that they are attempting to break the “chains” and throw off the “shackles” of the anointed of God. What are the “chains” and “shackles” here? From what are the kings of the earth conspiring to set believers “free”?

I remembered something from the passage just before this in Psalm 1, which says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

This is the “chain”, the “shackle” upon the life of the believer: the holy Law of the Lord. The Lord condemns the kings of the earth of conspiring to break the authority of this law from the lives of His children. God calls believers to find their delight in His law, to crave it and to meditate on it day and night. 

Well this really struck me, because this is not the message that I have for so long received in my congregational experience.
What is this “law” we are talking about here? What did Jesus say about this?

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

This is the law. This is the yoke from which the kings of the earth (often even “kings” within the church today) desire to set God’s children “free.” 

But, as I consider again those who have gone before us in the Church, the servants, the prophets, the reformers through whom the grace and word of God has been carried faithfully through the generations, even weaving through all of their dark, often crippling weaknesses and vices stands one, striking similarity: a sincere, sacrificial commitment to the law of Almighty God, in Christ Jesus. 

Over and over again we see that these individuals earnestly sought God through His Word (even as that Word appeared in the flesh), through days and weeks and a lifetime of fasting and prayer and meditation on the Scriptures and sacrificial service. Each one followed Christ through his or her own personal nightmare of the reality of the hell they deserved, sank dangerously close to unbelief through fits of terror and rage at the experience of having their eyes opened to the reality of the pain and devastation their own sin was creating in the world around them. These are men and women who’s intimate knowledge of the pain and suffering that comes with following Christ was so that even the utterance of the law of Christ – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” – would leave them weeping, broken, and hopeless, knowing that for them such a standard of law was utterly impossible.

Read Romans 8:2 again. It is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that sets us free from the law of sin and death. There is no such thing as “lawless” life for the created being. If we are not continually seeking Christ, and waiting upon His grace, so that we may be enabled to submit ourselves to the law of the Spirit of Life, then we are by nature bound and condemned to the law of sin and death. It seems that there is no other option here.

I share all of this as a way to begin the conversation. As we step into this New Year by God’s grace, and as I try to share a little about where we are in this season, I guess these are some of the questions with which I hope to wrestle:  In what or whom am I placing my faith and my hope in these days?  Under which law is my life being directed? And how are these things reflected in my actions and in the decisions I am making? 

Thank you very much for checking in with us. With love in Him today, Miki


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The Chastains December 2017 Newsletter

Merry Christmas from the Chastains! 
We wish you a season of peace and rest – something that feels rare these days.  

We are ready to rest, too.  This has been such a busy time for our family. 



In our last update, we told you that Charlie and our oldest, Isabel, were making plans to attend the TMS Global regional gathering in Malaysia, which takes place every 2 years.  At the last minute, with the help and encouragement of friends, we were provided the necessary funds so that all 5 of us were able to go to the gathering.

The days we spent in Malaysia were a great time to catch up with old friends living in Africa, Europe and Asia, to participate in continuing education for our work, and to pray and dream about future plans together.  During these gatherings, TMS Global also places emphasis on all of the children attending.  So, one of the highlights was watching our kids interact with other kids whose families are serving around the globe, who also share their struggles of being “third culture kids”.  Isabel, Jasper and Celia all had a great time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones while the adults were in our meetings discussing the boring stuff!  While the journey to Malaysia was long, we left Kuala Lumpur encouraged and refreshed for our next season of ministry. 


Just two days after we arrived back from Asia, Charlie left for Dusseldorf, Germany to participate in Mosaik Dusseldorf Church’s Tribus conference.  Like our time in Malaysia, Charlie’s time in Dusseldorf was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends, make a few new ones, and to talk about life, art, and the gospel.  

C MosaikCharlie was honored to be one of the guest speakers for the event, where he spoke on the intersection between faith, art and the refugee crisis.  In addition, he was one of the guest musical performers for the conference, and he accompanied a couple of other artists’ performances as well.  Charlie also received a last minute invitation to preach at the Mosaik Sunday service after the gathering, and so was blessed with the opportunity to share more specifically about our refugee work during that time.  

Sometimes, given the work we do and the realities we face with at-risk kids and refugees, the idea of “making art” can feel frivolous or even sinful.  But events like Tribus remind us that creativity is a vital resource towards helping us continue to move forward in these difficult environments.  Personal expression is a natural and necessary aspect of any life.  We can see this clearly in the scriptures, from the creation story to the book of Psalms and beyond.  Art and music have played an immeasurable role in Charlie’s walk through the refugee crisis, and we hope to share some of his recent compositions in the near future.


Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 10.19.47 AMThree days after Charlie’s arriving back from Dusseldorf, our family packed in our van and made our way down to Italy.  Just a few years ago, making such a journey would have seemed crazy, but for the 5 of us now a 6500 mile (10,500km) road trip has become almost routine!  

Our goal was to find out as much as we could about the refugee crisis in Italy, including for example local church involvement, charities involved in aid work, regions of greatest migrant concentration, etc.  As we crossed the Austrian border into Italy we were filled with anticipation about what we would find – as only Charlie had ever been to Italy before.  First, we made our way south through Bologna, then onto Florence and Rome.  The further south we went, the more migrants we began to see. 

Charlie found a couple of minutes to speak with two African refugees he met stocking produce in a grocery store in Bologna.  Both of these young men had left their families in Eritrea and had headed for Libya in the hope of finding a seat on a boat crossing the Mediterranean.  Once in northern Africa, they discovered that Libya had become what they described as essentially a prison camp and trafficking hub for migrants seeking passage into Europe.

Many refugees are getting stuck in Tripoli with no food and no means to buy their way onto one of the small boats.  More and more often, these individuals are entering into servitude in Northern Africa, sometimes for years.  The two Eritreans Charlie met had left behind family and friends in Tripoli, who are still in bondage.  The young men hope that some of their modest earnings in Bologna will help pay off debts owed by their families to traffickers.  

As of 2016, there were around 180,000 asylum-seekers living in public reception centers in Italy.  This is not counting the thousands living on the streets, including unaccompanied minors. In the first 10 months of 2017, another 110,000 more have arrived on the shores of Italy. 

Some congregations in Italy seem to have become deeply and sacrificially involved in ministry with these homeless migrant and refugee families.  For example, one morning in Rome our family decided to take a few hours to get some fresh air and see some local sights.  During our walk, just by chance, we came upon a group of young refugee children and their families who were playing with frisbees and soccer balls with a group of Catholic priests on the sidewalk in front of a Catholic church.  As we got closer, we saw that the doors of the church were open.  Once we were directly in front of the church, we could see that inside were set up about 8-10 tents, where it appeared the refugee families were living.

IMG_4282In Rome and Naples, we visited with Evangelical congregations and leaders who assist refugees in central Italy to integrate into Italian society.  For example, one organization we met has a recreational center in downtown Rome, which offers language and legal assistance as well as opportunities to learn about Jesus. 

However, we also met with leaders who said that their churches do not participate in any mission with the migrant or refugee population there at all.  In fact, one indicated that most Christian missions he knew had moved out of the southern region of Italy and Sicily because trying to work there had become too difficult and dangerous.  Despite this discouraging report, we decided to continue south to the island of Sicily and to see if we could discern a bit of the situation there for ourselves. 

Sicily is a primary reception spot for refugees in Italy, with three “hot spots” or locations where arriving refugees and migrants are received directly off of the boats.  In Palermo, Sicily, we visited a Methodist congregation which is made up primarily of migrants and refugees from Africa.  On the day of our visit the service was led by two speakers, one an Italian and the other an African pastor. 

One of the most helpful visits was with the group, Mediterranean Hope, in Scicli, Sicily, which is supported in partnership by both the Methodist and Catholic Churches of Italy.  Among other services, this group runs a small shelter in Scicli that houses about 40 people, and which is designated for the “most vulnerable” among the refugee community.  While we were there, they were housing unaccompanied minors and single mothers and their children.  Right before our visit, the shelter had been called to a nearby “hot spot” to pick up two young mothers whose children had drowned in the Mediterranean during their crossing a couple of days prior. 

While the refugee crisis no longer the focus on our news broadcasts and social media feeds, it is ongoing and just as tragic as it has ever been.  

scicliIt was during our few hours with volunteers and workers at this shelter that we felt we were finally able to speak a “similar language” regarding our calling to serve refugees. 

This group is not discouraged by the fact that they are “only” able to serve 40 people, but instead affirmed that none of us is able – nor are we called – to help every one of the thousands of refugees coming into Europe.  Instead, we are each called to serve faithfully those individuals whom God brings into our lives.  Doing any more than that comes with the risk that we will no longer see each person as a beautiful child of God, but that we will instead begin to see them as only a number.  It seemed to us that this insight – this call to humble ourselves, and to commit ourselves to simply be obedient in the small part God gives us – might be a major key towards engaging more of the church in this crisis.

We were also encouraged by the testimonies of the volunteers on some of the ways that this shelter, now open for about 2 years, has worked to deepen the community of Scicli itself.  They confirmed what we have witnessed over and over in the camps and squats we have visited in other locations, that authentic ministry never flows in just one direction, but that the work of the Holy Spirit in these circumstances is mutual.  When God calls individuals to one another in the midst of crisis, His work of healing, reconciliation, and transformation flows in every way, to everyone involved.

After our time in Sicily, we began our journey back North towards Estonia, and we stopped in Rome for one last meeting, this time with Mirella Manocchio, the President of the Methodist Church of Italy.  Particularly given Mirella’s extensive schedule, we felt very blessed to have an hour to sit with her and to begin a discussion on possibilities for us to come alongside the Methodist Church of Italy in order to learn from them and to work more extensively with them in the refugee crisis.  It is particularly about the development of this potential relationship that we ask for your prayers, specifically that throughout coming weeks we will be able to have open, honest communication together, and that we will all be able to discern the appropriate way forward.


In addition to the extensive traveling we did this past season, Miki also completed a full semester schedule towards her Master’s of Divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary.  She is now one class short of half-way! 

We want to express our sincerest gratitude to those of you who have committed to supporting Miki’s studies through your prayers and your financial contributions on her behalf through the Ministry Partner’s Scholarship Program at Asbury.  You may recall that through this program Miki is required to participate in stewardship training and to raise financial donations of $6,980/academic year.  When she meets these requirements the rest of her tuition (around $20,000/year) is covered by Asbury.  For this current (2017-2018) school year, Miki still needs to raise about $1,400.  If anyone feels like they would like to support Miki’s studies, please contact her at, or you may send a gift directly to Asbury Seminary:

You may send a check designated “Miki Chastain – MPP” to: 

Asbury Theological Seminary
204 N. Lexington Avenue
Wilmore, KY 40390

Or you can go online to to make a contribution electronically on Miki’s behalf (just choose her name in the drop down box).

So now as we all dive headlong into this holiday season, please know how much we love you.  Please know how much your support and encouragement means to us.  We often look back at these past 9 years and cannot believe the terrain we have covered.  While in Italy, Charlie looked at the rest of us and just asked, “How did we get here?”  It often overwhelms us.  The joys and the heartaches.  The blessings and despair.  Through it all you have remained steadfast and true – and it has meant the world to us.  

More work lies ahead, and we will need you in the future as well.  Knowing you’re there makes it much easier to take those risks, those uncharted paths.  So may the Lord our God bless and keep you as we celebrate the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Much love,

Charlie, Miki, Isabel, Jasper and Celia


PS:  Miki’s 8-week study on prayer is available on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle. Please check it out – and share it with your SS Classes and friends!  Charlie’s album with Faleiro-Chastain is available for purchase and streaming on iTunes, Spotify and all major online distributors.  

Ways to donate to this ministry:

By Check: Send a check to the following address, noting “Chastain/Russia 322” in the memo:

TMS Global
6234 Crooked Creek Road
Norcross, GA 30092

By Credit/Debit Card: Go to:
In the box noting:  “Give to a Missionary”, fill in the amount and 0322 for the “Four-digit Missionary ID#”
To give to our special projects account (refugees, prayer work), use the “Give to a Partner or Project” and fill in “Chastain Special Projects”

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The Chastains September 2017 Newsletter

Greetings from Tallinn! After almost 2 months in the U.S. this summer, we returned to Estonia August 18. It was such a blessing to be able to share a summer in the States with our family. This was the first 4th of July stateside for our two youngest kids. Over the course of our time there we were able to visit 7 different states. Not only did we have quality time with our families, but we also were able to visit with many of you and hear how you are.


We want to thank everyone who has supported the Faleiro-Chastain album, which came out earlier this summer! Charlie and Gustavo are planning some future concerts in Europe and America. They hope to encourage local communities about Christian arts as well as engaging with the refugee crisis.

“Rue de la Convention” by Faleiro-Chastain is available on all the major music websites: iTunes, Amazon Music, GooglePlay, Noisetrade and others. Please check it out. Every sale, stream and share helps our work!

Charlie is beginning production in September with 2 new artists from Estonia and will produce the 3rd Canon Music Workshop in Moscow, Russia with the United Methodist Church of Eurasia in October. He will also be joining several Christian artists from various communities throughout Europe as they gather for the “Tribus” Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany in early November.

Please pray for these projects and gatherings – that Charlie will be effective in his “time management” with so many overlapping tasks and travel these next few months.

Miki’s upcoming Russia trip

Miki will be spending 5 days in St. Petersburg and Moscow early in September, where she will gather with some old friends and colleagues to spend some time teaching and Bible study with leaders from the Russian UMC. Although this is a short trip due to her seminary schedule, she is so grateful for the opportunity to see our brothers and sisters in Russia, and to have time for prayer and fellowship with them.

We have been experiencing more and more “hurdles” in our continuing work in Russia – so we want to be faithful in the limited opportunities we have there. Please pray for easy connections and that they may be a source of encouragement and instruction for one another, to the glory of God.

Malaysia Global Gathering – October

In late October, Charlie and our oldest daughter Isabel will travel together for the TMS Global Gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We hope that this will be a time for reconnecting with old friends, and for having good discussions on the ways forward in this new season at TMS Global. In particular, Charlie hopes to have productive meetings regarding the ongoing work with refugees, both in Europe and in other regions of the world where TMS Global is present.

As many of you know, we believe that this is going to continue to be a major global crisis, at least throughout our life times. We appreciate your continued prayers as we seek to work alongside brothers and sisters throughout these affected regions in order to discover the best practices in providing ministry for these displaced families and unaccompanied minors, and to learn how to care also for one another and to lean on Jesus Christ, the Giver of Life, more in our own lives each day.

Exploratory Trip to Italy

For a few years now, we have continued to feel the Lord shifting our view more and more into the refugee crisis throughout Europe, particularly within the Southern European nations of Greece, Serbia, and Italy. As a result of several months of prayer and a lot of conversation with many of you, we have begun planning an extended family trip, from mid-November through December, down into Italy.

This will be an “exploratory” trip, designed primarily for learning and connecting with others who are working and living there. While we are there, we have also been invited to attend a missions conference with a partner NGO in the refugee crisis, which is scheduled for November in Rome.

We can not say exactly what God’s plan is for us through this trip. Still, we feel we need to be open to the possibilities for expanded work in that region. Considering our experience over the years with orphans and street children in Northeastern Europe – as well as our continued development and education in spiritual retreat and pastoral care – we are giving significant consideration to the possibility of full-time work with unaccompanied minors.

We recognize that any possibility for this type of work in Southern Europe will require a number of miracles in relationships, communications, and provisions. We desire to approach this season delicately and are asking God to provide abundant humility, discernment, courage, and peace as He reveals His plan for our family.

To look back at how we got to this place in ministry, feel free to browse our video updates from refugee camps and squats here:

Seminary Update

As many of you know, Miki’s Masters of Divinity requirements at Asbury Seminary include 63 academic hours of class online, and 33 hours on one of the campuses, either in Wilmore, KY or Orlando, FL. We were very pleased that, with a bit of juggling and a lot of support from several of you, this summer she was able to complete 9 hours on the Asbury campuses. Miki has now completed the first year of the three year MDiv program and plans on maintaining a full-time schedule throughout so that she will finish up on time, in 2019.

We want to thank everyone who has supported Miki’s studies financially with the Ministry Partners Program at Asbury. Through this scholarship, Miki is required to participate in regular online sessions and to raise financial contributions each year of $6,980. By meeting these requirements, the remaining tuition balance (around $20,000 in total for her first year) is covered by the seminary.

For her second year, which begins next month, support of $5,300 has already been given or pledged by individuals and congregations, leaving a need of just $1,680 for the 2017-18 year.

If you feel you would like to support Miki’s studies, or if you would like to learn more about the reasons why she is pursuing this degree towards the development of her work here in Europe, please feel free to reach out to her at Support can be sent directly to:

Asbury Theological Seminary
204 N. Lexington Avenue
Wilmore, KY 40390
Please designate the check: Miki Chastain – MPP

Or go online: if you prefer to make an electronic payment.

Thank you so much for walking with us through these busy times. We sincerely ask for your continued prayers and support, and invite you to be in touch with us.  It’s always a blessing to hear from you – to know how we can pray for you and see how God is working through your lives in addition to the efforts you do on our behalf!

Every Blessing to you and yours,

Charlie, Miki, Isabel, Jasper and Celia

PS:  Miki’s 8-week study on prayer is available on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle. Please check it out – and share it with your SS Classes and friends!   

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Prayer Study Week 8 – Love

At the core of all we know about God, everything He is, and everything He has done – the creation of the universe, pursuit of the heart of His children, the cross, the resurrection, and the coming restoration of heaven and earth – is love.

Likewise, at the root of our separation from God, and all of the suffering and darkness we see prevailing in our lives and in the world around us today lies one, insidious deception: We simply do not know the love of our Heavenly Father.

“And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.'” Matthew 3:17

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us…” 1 John 4:16-17

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Do we have any idea how much God loves us?

Whether or not we are consciously aware of it, this question is at the heart of everything we say and do. The oppressive, often overwhelming waves of deception and darkness in this world work to keep us distracted. We are often so deeply sold into the lies of our worthlessness, that we are unable to begin to grasp the significance of this question as it defines all we think and feel. But, in the end, this is everything.

In the end, love is everything.

Love is the definition of who we are – creatures loved by our Creator.

Love is the definition of what the Church is – quite simply, the community of individuals who have submitted to the blood of Jesus Christ, and in so doing have begun to consider the possibility that Almighty God might actually love them.

And reaching into the core of the countless attacks and deceptions of the enemy against the children of God, we find this one, pervasive lie: “God does not love you. You are unworthy of His love.”

As we consider the foundation and authority of love in our desire for God, and in His desire for us, we can go back to the words in Hebrews 10:19-24:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…

When, by the blood of Jesus Christ, we enter into the Most Holy Place – the very presence of our Heavenly Father God – it is there that we first encounter the truth of His love. Every part of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives stems from our seeing and believing this truth – that God our Father deeply and passionately loves us. We are naturally healed and set free as the reality of God’s love is made complete in us.

Remember the guidance of Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:37-40, when He said “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”

Everything hangs on love. Everything.

Final Meditation – The Cross

Remember the prayer of Christ in the garden, just moments before his arrest in Luke 22:41-44:

(Jesus) withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

In those moments before the crucifixion, our Lord was in anguish, even asking the Father to take away the cup awaiting Him at the cross.

Why? Remember, we are talking about the same man who said to His disciples in John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

Jesus Christ had always been aware of the persecution that was coming for Him and His followers from the world. So, why do we see Him on the eve of His crucifixion crying out to His Father in this way? What was in the “cup” awaiting Jesus Christ?

In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, we find a part of the old law, which says, “If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.”

“Under God’s curse…”

Jesus Christ knew that at the moment He was hung on the cross, He would fall under the curse of His Father God. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul says that in that moment, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.”

At the moment of the crucifixion, Jesus Christ became sin. He fell under the curse of God. Hanging on the cross, for the very first time Jesus Christ became completely separated from the perfect love of His Father.

Let’s go back to the story of Abraham and Isaac, which we find in Genesis 22, for an illustration of this experience for Jesus. In Genesis 22:2, God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

We remember that Abraham and Isaac walked together for three days to the mountain, where Abraham then bound his son, Isaac, to the altar.

Genesis 22:10-14 tells us, “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

Abraham and Isaac’s story has a happy ending, with Isaac’s life spared, and God’s provision of the ram to be sacrificed in his place.

But, let’s try to imagine for a moment that the angel of the Lord had never appeared, that the ram had not been provided. Imagine that Abraham had gone through with the sacrifice of his son, had put the knife into Isaac’s chest, had turned his back on him, and had walked away.

Now imagine that moment for Isaac, lying on the altar, the knife protruding from his chest, watching his father walk away and abandon him as he lay there, dying.

This was the experience of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Certainly, our Lord did not desire to be beaten, or to experience the excruciating physical pain of the nails as they were driven into His hands and feet. But, were these the things filling the “cup” which He asked the Father to take from Him?

On the cross, Jesus Christ became sin, took on Himself the curse of the filth of our wretched depravity. And in response to His anguish in those moments hanging there, for the very first time, His loving Father turned His back on Him.

In Romans 3:25 Paul writes that “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” Paul does not blame the religious leaders or the government officials of that time for the crucifixion of Christ, but says clearly that it was God Who offered Jesus Christ as a sacrifice that day.

In that moment, Jesus Christ became completely cut off from the love of His Father. He experienced total rejection and abandonment by Him for the very first time. We see a glimpse of this in His reaction in Matthew 27:46, when He cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

It is only as we begin to understand the cross, to understand the fullness of the penalty that Christ paid there on our behalf, that we can begin to comprehend the freedom we have in Him. We are no longer subjugated to the rejection and scorn of our Father God. We are no longer bound under the condemnation of the world and ourselves – no longer the  “mistake”, or the “unlovable”, or the “unsave-able”.

Why? Because Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, experienced every bit of that in our place on the cross. Our penalty is paid. We are free.

The cross is the ultimate display of perfect love. Because of Jesus Christ, because of the cross, we are welcomed into the Holy Throne Room of our Heavenly Father, He Who is perfect love. By the blood of Jesus Christ, we are free to walk out from under the oppression and weight of the darkness and deception reigning in this world, and to find ourselves and to find God our Father, in His love.

Week 8 Meditation

This week, try to find a whole day, or even a day and a night, which you can set aside to get away from home and work and regular responsibilities, for time alone in prayer with the Father. As you are preparing for your time with God, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the types of tools you might need to have with you, which will help you to maintain a focus on His presence. Some examples include a notebook or sketch pad, music, an instrument, or a blanket or exercise mat for sitting.

Scripture meditation:

– Romans 5:1-11

– 1 Corinthians 13

– The book of Hebrews

This week, in your time of prayer, ask God to help you hear His voice, and to give you the courage to honestly consider His one question for you:

“Do you truly know that I love you?”

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Prayer Study Week 7 – Spiritual Warfare

The scriptures are filled with wisdom and instruction on the topic of spiritual warfare, as all of the children of God who have gone before us have encountered struggles with the enemy. Believers desiring to submit to the will of the Father must recognize that we will also be called to face these battles.

Who is our enemy?

As we approach this topic, we begin by remembering the guidance we have from Paul in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Believers should not be tempted to turn our attention intently towards the enemy and his schemes. God our Father is fully aware of him, and will be our guide as we meditate on His Word and learn to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

However, neither should we ignore the reality of who our enemy is, particularly as we are sorting out issues such as unity in the Body, the building-up and sending-out of workers, and our own salvation.

Paul reminds of this truth in Ephesians 6:10-12, writing, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The scriptures also provide us some guidance on the character of our enemy:

Revelation 12:9 provides a brief, but rich description: “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”

Note the wording here, describing Satan as the one “who leads the whole world astray.” It is important to remember that our enemy operates entirely through deception.

In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Let’s consider these points a bit more:

1- The enemy comes to steal.

John 1:3 gives us some information about Jesus Christ, saying, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”

In Hebrews 1:2 we read, “but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe.”

The scriptures are clear on this point: All of creation was created by God, through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Himself Heir of all things.

But the enemy is a thief. He deceives the world, claiming that the blessings of God’s creation actually belong to him. A few examples of the gifts of God, which the enemy attempts to claim as his own, include the arts, science, sex, numbers, nature, the human body, family, and even the Church.

Through these blessings of God’s creation, we have the possibility for revelation of the life and love and truth of our Creator. However, when we submit to the deception of the enemy, we develop instead a posture of defense and hostility towards these gifts, often resulting in a growth of fear and legalism.

2 – The enemy comes to kill.

He wants to kill you and me. Every single temptation or distraction into which he tempts us is meant for the purpose of taking from us the life we have been given through Jesus Christ.

We recall the story in the Garden of Eden, when God said to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Shortly after this, we see man’s first encounter with the enemy, in Genesis 3. When tempting Eve to disobey God, the serpent said to her in verses 4-5, “You will not surely die… For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…”

This is a common deception of the enemy: “You will not surely die, but you will be like God. That sin in your life is not killing you. In fact, it is leading you towards real, true life! You’ve worked hard. People have hurt you. You deserve this. And it will make you feel better. It will make you feel more powerful.”

But there is something else feeding the power of the deceptions of our enemy, which is that his temptations and excuses are exactly what our old, carnal nature wants to hear. Without the blood of Jesus Christ, we are naturally drawn to the things that lead to death. The enemy is simply providing the excuses we need in order to ignore the evidence of the death, which is consuming us.

But through all of this remains the steadfast, still voice of our Father God, speaking in His unfailing love for us, saying, “You must not eat from that tree, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Proverbs 7 – Take a few minutes to read through this image of the tempter in Proverbs. This passage provides a rich description of the enemy’s strategy for luring individuals into the snares of sin and death.

3 – The enemy comes to destroy.

As we consider this description of the enemy who comes to destroy, it’s good to begin by asking the question – what does he seek to destroy?

Jesus Christ addressed this question in Matthew 21:12-15: “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written’, He said to them, ‘”My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it a “den of robbers.”‘”

We have additional insight for this question in Ephesians 1:22-23, when Paul writes about Jesus Christ, saying, “And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”

This target, which the enemy seeks to destroy, is the Church. The very body of Christ Himself. Note that this does not necessarily include the church buildings in which we meet. More precisely, the enemy seeks to tear down the unity and the love that signifies the true Church. He wants to destroy the Body of believers, the fellowship of the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The scars of division and conflict, which have resulted throughout the history of Church, are clear evidence of the war the enemy wages against the Bride of Christ. Further, in these attacks we see him using precisely the same strategy we have already discussed – the strategy of deception.

In this account at the temple, Jesus Christ reminds us of the words of the prophet in Isaiah 56:6-7, that those “who bind themselves to the Lord to serve Him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship Him”, God has brought to His “holy mountain and given them joy in (His) house of prayer… for (God’s) house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

“God’s house will be called a ‘house of prayer'”. The instruction for the Church here is really quite simple. Yet, we are currently witnessing an epidemic in the Church of leaders and workers who are exhausted, consistently giving all of their time and energy, while struggling to find any free time for prayer.

Some of the deceptions of the enemy against the Church and God’s children:

– Deception that we are unwanted and are unloved by our Heavenly Father (so that we must “prove” to Him that we are worthy of His love).

– Deception that the wisdom and strategies of the world are more relevant than the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

– Deception that the glorification of men saves us.

How do Believers Respond?

Whether we are in the midst of an attack of the enemy in our own lives, or we are in an intercessory prayer session with someone needing deliverance, the scriptures give us clear guidance on how we can be prepared to respond to and resist the devil.

1 – Learning the voice of our Father God.

In John 10:1-5, we have the words of Jesus Christ, when he said, “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

In this passage, Jesus provides for us the 2 primary means for confronting the deceptions of the enemy in our lives:

a. Become intimately, passionately familiar with the voice of our Heavenly Father.

b. Flee from/ignore all other strange and unrecognizable voices.

True intimacy with and trust in the voice of our Heavenly Father is a primary line of defense against the deceptions of our enemy. This kind of familiarity with our Shepherd is achieved through a rich, committed life of prayer.

2 – Absolute submission to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 28:17-20, Jesus tells His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

As with every aspect of our reconciliation to the Father through Jesus Christ, we start by recognizing that in our own strength, we have no authority to defeat the deceptions of the enemy. If we attempt to fight these battles without falling on our faces in repentance and humility before Jesus Christ, and allowing Him to cover us with His blood and fill us with the Holy Spirit, then we will fail.

In Acts 19:13-16, we have an example of this reality in the account of the seven sons of Sceva:

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

An interesting point of this story is found in verse 15, when the evil spirit answered the sons of Sceva by saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I am acquainted with, but who are you?”  It is important to note here that not only did the evil spirit know who Jesus Christ was, but he also knew who Paul was.

As our relationship and intimacy with Jesus Christ deepens, the whole of the spiritual world comes to recognize us as His followers, who are covered by His blood. It is our transformation in Jesus Christ, and our submission to follow Him, by which the enemy must submit to us when we speak in our Lord’s name.

3 – Denying worldly wisdom, submitting only to the wisdom of God, through the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 8:9-19, we have the account of the meeting of the apostles with a sorcerer from Samaria, named Simon. The author tells us that Simon was well-respected in his community, and that people from all classes followed and honored him because of his skills in sorcery.

Then we have the account of the apostles coming to Samaria, in verses 14-19:

But when (the Samarians) believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’

Simon’s request for the gift of the Holy Spirit here provides a good illustration of the error of reliance on the wisdom of man. Note that his desire for the gift of the Holy Spirit is not wrong in itself. The things we must consider – those things which God our Father considers – come from the condition of Simon’s heart:

a. Simon coveted the authority of the apostles, and he wanted that authority for himself. He sought the gift of the Holy Spirit out of a desire to see himself justified – so that he would be considered “righteous” and “honored” by the people of his community.

b. Simon attempted to gain for himself the authority and power of the Holy Spirit in his own life not through intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, or through submission to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. He attempted to gain the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the quickest and most efficient means he knew – money.

Reliance on human wisdom has become a tremendous temptation for the Church today. Believers must humble themselves before the Lord in prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the areas in which He is calling us to turn our ears away from the wisdom of the world, and to wait on the wisdom He gives through the voice of the Holy Spirit.

4 – Meditation on the Word of God

In Ephesians 6:10-18, the apostle Paul gives specific guidance for believers facing spiritual warfare. In this account, he provides a detailed list of the elements of what he calls “the full armor of God”.

We have that list in verses 14-17: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Each element of the “armor” described by Paul here is meant primarily as a weapon of defense against the attacks of the enemy, with the exception of one: The sword of the Spirit, which Paul identifies as the Word of God.

One of the most memorable examples of the authority of the scriptures to defeat the enemy is found in Matthew 4, the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness. After spending 40 days and nights alone in the desert without eating or drinking, Jesus was hungry.

It was at this time that the devil came and waged attack after attack on Jesus. With each attempt, Jesus came back at the devil with the Word of God:

Vs. 4: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Vs. 7: Jesus answered him, “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord you God to the test.'” 

Vs. 10-11: Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord you God, and serve Him only.'” Then the devil left Him.

The Word of God is nourishment for His children. We must commit to prayerfully meditate on His word. As it is opened up to us by the Holy Spirit, and as it is written on our hearts, we will be much better equipped when we are confronted with the devil.

The authority of God’s Word is also important during our intercessory prayers for others, particularly those needing deliverance. Very often, simply speaking the Word of God over a person can be very effective in seeing the authority of satan break in a person’s life.

Following are a few examples of scriptures that are very powerful when prayed according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in the name of Jesus Christ:

– “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.'” Matthew 28:18

– “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.'” John 14:6

– “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.” John 15:9

– “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me… If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.” Psalm 139:1-12

– “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

– “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

– “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, through His Spirit, Who lives in you… For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” Romans 8:11-15

– “We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:16-18

Some Thoughts on Deliverance

It is difficult for us to fully understand, but there are circumstance in which individuals become particularly vulnerable to the deceptions of the enemy – perhaps through trauma or addiction, for example. In these cases, individuals may submit themselves to the authority of the enemy (or be handed over to the authority of the enemy in the case of children), resulting in a need for them to be “delivered” from the evil that has assumed a sort of control in their lives.

In these cases, it is often necessary first to address the source of the pain or deception, which originally led the individual to submit to the control of the evil spirit in their lives. This includes praying for God to reveal and to heal:

– deceptions of worthlessness,

– issues of terror, rage, or unforgiveness regarding others who may have abused the person for whom you’re praying,

– areas of addiction and sin, which make the individual vulnerable to the influence and control of the enemy.

Once these authorities of sin, pain, and deception have been broken, it may be necessary to directly address the evil spirit or darkness, which has taken control in the person’s life, and to command it to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. We have examples of Jesus Christ doing this during His times of prayer ministry with others:

– “‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!'” (Jesus Christ directly addressing an evil spirit.) Mark 1:25

– “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”‘” Matthew 4:10

Deliverance ministry can be quite intense. When possible, prayer ministers should engage in this type of prayer ministry with the support of a prayer partner or prayer team.

However, believers should not be intimidated or fearful about engaging the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ, recognizing that the breaking of authorities of darkness and deliverance of evil spirits are natural parts of the declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As you sense the Lord leading you more deeply into spiritual warfare or deliverance ministry, consider researching other sources of information on these topics. I recommend the book Deliverance from Evil Spirits by Francis MacNutt as a place to begin (Chosen Books, 1995).

Week 7 Meditation

This week, set aside 40 minutes on 4 different days, for spending time in prayer and meditation on God’s Word. The focus of the prayer time this week will be spiritual warfare, and seeking revelation on the places where the enemy is maintaining a sort of authority in our lives. With this topic, it is a good idea to reach out to someone whom you trust and know to be spiritually mature, and who will be willing to meet with you to talk and pray through some of the things the Lord reveals in your time of prayer.

Scriptures meditation:

Day 1 – Psalm 23

Day 2 – Psalm 139

Day 3 – Isaiah 43:1-7

Day 4 – Hebrews 4:12-16

Things to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you (Jot down in your journal the things you hear Him speak to you, and share them in your time with your prayer partner):

– Any places in your life where you are struggling under the deception and authority of the enemy.

– Scriptures for you to begin to pray in the name of Jesus Christ, which will work to break down the authorities and deceptions which have gained some control in your life. (You may find some examples above under the subsection, “4 -Meditation on the Word of God.”)

– Revelations of the truth of God’s Word for you, which He desires to write on your heart, setting you free from the deceptions and lies of darkness.

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