Greetings in the love of Christ to you! We pray as you are reading this, that your life and home is overflowing with the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this month to officially introduce a major ministry project that we are taking on here in Estonia. Through many years of getting to know christian brothers and sisters who have dedicated their lives to serving in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe, and after many months of prayer and discussion and more prayer, we have decided to take the first steps towards acquiring property and building a Prayer Retreat Facility here in Tallinn.
Our vision for this facility is that it be a place for christian workers (pastors, orphan charity staff, church staff, etc) in Eastern Europe to come for quiet prayer retreat with the Lord and to receive healing prayer ministry and training. We are seeking to acquire land near Tallinn and to construct housing for up to 15 people with kitchen and dining facilities. We feel called to create an environment that is conducive to time spent in quiet reflection with the Lord, including, for example, a privacy fence, a quiet, reflective garden area, and prayer room facilities.
It is difficult to explain how desperately a facility like this is needed in this area. Since moving to Russia, Charlie and I have been able to experience first-hand how heavy and oppressive are the battles that come to those who give their lives to serving Christ in this region. To try to explain, Charlie and I believe that there is no way of “casually” starting a ministry in this part of the world. The forces working against the ministry of Jesus Christ here are so prevalent and have such a wide span of influence that the decision to follow and serve Christ always will demand that individuals give everything.
For those who are called to live and work for Christ here, leading a life of christian discipline is absolutely vital. The enemy pays very close attention to those who have confessed Christ as their Savior, and will attack viciously upon anything that may present itself as a source of separation from God. For example, carrying unconfessed sin, harboring anger or unforgiveness, or neglecting to spend regular time in the word of God, in fellowship with other believers, or especially with the Lord will almost certainly result in an immediate attack from the enemy.
I remember that we’d only been living in Russia about 2 months the first time someone told me they were struggling against the enemy’s attacks. We were visiting with an American friend who’d been living in Russia almost 20 years, and he said something that I couldn’t believe.
“When I command the enemy to flee in Jesus’ name, he doesn’t leave.” he said. “How can that be? The scriptures say that he’s supposed to leave when I tell him to.”
I had never heard anyone else say anything like that, and so in my ignorance I assumed that this man was just missing something, or not praying correctly, or just wasn’t able to discern well the presence of different spirits.
But it was only a few months later that I remember saying almost exactly the same thing to Charlie in tears. “Why won’t the enemy leave?” I remember asking. “I feel like a sitting duck. I can’t get him to leave!”
Since that time, especially since I have become involved in prayer ministry in this region, I can’t count the number of times I have heard pastors and other christian workers say those same words to me. My most vivid memory of this was when an older, retired lady who was volunteering as a prayer minister in local hospitals stood up in a prayer training session I was leading and just cried out in tears, “Since I’ve begun this ministry, I feel like my family and I have received attack after attack from the enemy. I command him to leave in Jesus’ name. But the attacks just keep coming. How can I make him leave me alone?”
What do these attacks look like? They come in every imaginable form, including emotionally in such forms as depression or suicidal thoughts or feelings of isolation, physically such as through chronic illness or pain or frequent accidents/injuries, and through attacks on spiritual lives and relationships with God.
Now this sense of helplessness that I’ve described is not present always for those who are working for Christ in this region. We also have come to know individuals serving here who do not give any indication of fear or any sense of helplessness regarding the enemy, but generally walk well in the authority and truth of Jesus Christ who is Lord of all. However, even for these people, the battles rage. And though they know a clearer sense of victory, there is for them very little rest. And they are simply exhausted.
This past week Charlie had an opportunity to go spend a few days in St. Petersburg planning upcoming projects and catching up with dear brothers and sisters who are serving there in Christ. Every evening when he and I would chat about his day, I’d ask him how our friends there were doing. By the end of his trip, I’d noticed that about every single person he saw he had told me, “they are just exhausted.” On at least two different occasions, as he and I were talking about the struggles people are having there, he said, “I wish the retreat center was open already.”
Some people just need desperately a break – some time out of their daily battles to spend with God. Others are really struggling with some dark issues in their own personal lives, but are so overwhelmed with their ministry that they feel they have no time or energy to go to the Lord with these things for healing.
Already we are actively involved in prayer ministry with various individuals, from both Russia and Estonia. Those who have come from Russia for retreat or prayer have stayed in my and Charlie’s bedroom or on our couch. Several pastors from various locations in Russia, including St. Petersburg, Pskov, and Kaliningrad, have expressed a desire to come and to bring members of their congregation with them to us for prayer ministry. Additionally are those workers with christian charities in this region, particularly those we know who are giving all they have to minister to street children and orphans. These are people who have given their lives to obeying the call of God, and who do so with almost no break and no recognition at all.
And so, in addition to providing the spiritual renewal and healing so many of these people are needing, we feel strongly that the Lord desires simply to bless our brothers and sisters through this prayer retreat facility. Having the opportunity to experience even a few days of quiet reflection and fellowship with God in a safe place with minimal cost and travel would be an incredible gift to so many who are giving so much.
We expect this project to be long-term, taking a year to 18 months to make it ready for guests, and up to 3 years to complete all construction and landscaping. Due to increased travel difficulties and heating costs during the extreme winter months in this region, we currently are planning to receive guests for the months of April through November, and to close and winterize the facility for the remaining winter months.
For 2012, we have made it our goal to find and acquire a piece of land, and to have it set up with electricity and water. We have set a budget for this first goal of $25,000. This number is actually considerably lower than most prices we’ve seen for the location (near Tallinn) and size (around 2 acres) of land that we’d like to acquire. But this is a number that we have prayed about, and that we’re seeking to raise by fall of this year in order to give us time to complete a purchase before the snow begins at the end of the year.
This is just the first necessary step in this journey. Once land is acquired, we hope to be able to clear the land and begin construction of facilities in spring, 2013. And for that, we will be calling not only for donations, but also for volunteers to come see us in Estonia and to bring your hammers and elbow grease!
Our journey to this point these past few years has been at times very difficult, exhausting, and even painful. But it has been rich – full of the works of God in and around our lives. We believe that through this journey God has been preparing us for this time and place. We are very excited about this opportunity and appreciate so much your consideration in supporting this project.
Contributions can be made:
1- By check – please designate on the memo line “Acct. 0641 – Estonia Retreat Center” and mail to:
The Mission Society
6234 Crooked Creek Road
Norcross, GA 30092
2 – Or online with either your credit card or a debit to your checking account at: http://themissionsociety.org/give. First, click on the method you’d like to use to give. Then on the form that comes up, in the space asking if the donation is for a special project, please enter “Acct. 0641 – Estonia Retreat Center”.