Monthly Archives: July 2012

Prayer Retreat Center Tallinn – The Vision!!!!

July, 2012

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”.

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Let Us Run

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run…” Hebrews 12:1

One of the greatest blessings of the calling to healing prayer ministry is the privilege of being witness to the incredible works God does in the lives of people as they spend time in His presence and anointing.

So often, when people come to me seeking healing prayer, it is with a desperation for freedom from whatever burden they are carrying.  It is funny how very often we seek God’s healing as a last resort, when the pain has become almost unbearable, and when we accept that we really have no where else to go.  But praise be to Him who’s grace covers all wrong, so that He comes to us wonderfully and mercifully no matter how dark the paths we have chosen before Him.

Almost always when I begin prayer with someone seeking healing, I can almost see the heaviness of the burden they are carrying as they enter into prayer.  Often people come with a spirit of timidity, clearly at the end of their rope, even doubting whether this is going to work.  It is a mustard-seed-size of faith that brings them to God at that point, as they often feel that they have been abandoned by Him, maybe even believing the lie that He really doesn’t care about their pain.

Typically, after spending time – perhaps an hour or several hours – in God’s presence, I find that people feel worn out, but in a really good way.  I’ve known a similar feeling at other times in my life.  One example I remember was after a 12-hour day volunteering with Christmas in April, repairing the bathroom or painting the walls of the house of an elderly member of the community.  All of the volunteers met at the end of the day for a big dinner, stinking of body odor and dirt and paint, feeling sore and maybe burned from being out in the sun all day.  We were worn out and hurting, but also grateful.  Even grateful for the pain, feeling almost a bit of freedom from it.  Many of us felt stronger and more alive than we had in some time.

This is kind of the way it is when we spend a lot of time in the presence of our Lord.  Remember Isaiah 9:6 – “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  “ Or John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’”

Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth, the Life.  These words give us a glimpse of the magnificent nature of Jesus.  And let us be careful not to buy into the enemy’s sugary-sweet version of what these words mean.  These things He brings to us – peace, truth, life – these are mighty, powerful things, that come at a dear price.  God is gentle with us, but He’s not going to let us sit in His presence as spoiled children.  The intimacy and steady intensity of the healing process is amazing and beautiful, and at times, exhausting.  As the Lord cleans away the old, rotting death that we carry, cleanses our wounds with the washing of His blood, and fills us with His Holy Spirit – through this process of receiving the wholeness and life He brings – we may be left feeling worn out.

As we enter into His presence, we naturally begin to understand and to experience the things of His nature.  As we spend time in fellowship with Him, it is inevitable that the things in our life that are not of Him – the things that keep us weighed down and in darkness – will begin to be uncovered from that place where we have hidden them so deeply in our spirits.  As we give Him our time and attention, He will gently, but persistently bring up those areas of sin and brokenness in our lives, not in order to condemn us, but to heal us.  To free us.  So that we can run.

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Being Made Holy

“because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14

Of course I can’t be certain, but I am practically convinced that throughout the history of the church there could never have been a time when the church body was busier than it is today.  I wonder what the disciples of the early church would say if they could take a look at one of our monthly calendars of events today.  I mean, at first glance, it would have to at least be impressive.

For example, it is common to find on a typical church calendar at minimum:

  • choir practice
  • 3 different bible studies
  • christian book reading club meeting
  • mothers-with-preschoolers meeting
  • mom’s morning out
  • men’s breakfast
  • women’s brunch
  • knitting group meeting
  • finance committee meeting
  • 3 different Sunday services
  • volleyball
  • praise band rehearsal

And this list doesn’t even include the children’s or youth ministries!

But I’ve got to say honestly – and I don’t think I’m alone here – that in my earlier years of actively participating in the church functions – getting up early on Sunday morning to get the breakfast muffins and coffee set up in the social hall, rushing to the church right from work to bible study, staying up late Saturday night to prepare for the children’s Sunday School class I’m leading the next morning – on many, many occasions I would hear the same timid, little voice coming up from my soul, almost like the radio in the car.  (The sound of it brought more comfort to me than would have silence.)  The words in my gut would just resonate, easily ignored, but absolutely impossible to extinguish:

“There must be more.”

Recently I was having dinner with a dear sister here in Estonia, listening as she tried to describe her concern over a loved one’s relationship with God.  She said, “My friend has always been involved in a church, and he believes that God exists.  But he doesn’t really know God, or maybe he doesn’t realize that he can know God.”

And I think that is really the heart of it, isn’t it?  So many of us are playing the part we’re supposed to play – the part we’ve been told we’re supposed to play.  But, I think that so few of us are actually experiencing the reality of intimacy with God, our Creator.  It is true that we all have an inner yearning for communion with God. We are created in His image.  We are longing to have our souls washed – engulfed – in the precious, powerful anointing of His Spirit.  I believe that in the core of our existence as creatures of God, we each want so deeply for our steps, our words, our breath, to be covered in the protection and strength of His blood.  We seek to live a life that is completely dedicated to the desires of the heart of God.  Whether we be used by Him to bring peace or unity or healing or hope – the bottom line is that each of us, created as a reflection of Him, truly desires to be His sanctuary, and to overflow Him who is the way, truth and life into this world of chaos and brokenness that we currently occupy.

So what a tragedy it is that so many of us are killing ourselves to meet the demands that have been set before us by the church and society – to meet those requirements that we’ve been told will make us “good Christians”.  Yet so few of us are actually experiencing fully the things of Christ in our daily lives.  Hebrews 10:14 says, “by His one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  By confessing the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, the writer says that we are made perfect forever.  But notice how he describes followers of Jesus as those who are “being made holy”.  The words being made not only indicate a process, but they indicate a process that is happening now – always – as we are living in this world.  And so I ask myself as I bake bread for the small group meeting, organize prayer meetings, or prepare the children’s lesson for Sunday – in this work, am I being made holy?  And if not, then why am I doing this?

Oh, well, this is a scary question.  First, it can’t be denied that the work we’re doing here is good work.  Those around us consider us to be good, productive members of the church and of society.  So it is difficult to ask ourselves, could there be ulterior motives for why we do the work we feel God is calling us to?  And what could some of those other motives be?

Well, let’s face it.  Being an active member of a church – especially a good, wealthy, mainstream church – doesn’t fare too badly for us politically.  I mean, how often do you hear someone who is running for a political office stand up on their platform and proudly shout, “No I am NOT a member of any church!  I do not like churches or the things those people stand for!”

Or what about the positive effect going to church might have on our work or business?  Is it possible that our involvement in a local church might give us a reputation as someone who is honest and fair, and therefore influence people to do work with us instead of the other guy who is not known to be actively involved in a church?

Or more basically, is it possible that we may seek to be active in a church or in church missions as a way to simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lifestyles?  Maybe as a way to compensate for some of the other indulgences that we carry in our daily lives?

Oh, this is dangerous ground.  Do we remember in Matthew 21 when Jesus became so angry in the temple that He began turning over the tables of the money changers?  Matthew 21:13: “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.’”

Or maybe we should remember Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees for using their involvement in the temple to make them look like something they were not.  In Matthew 23:27 Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”

Throughout scripture, one thing that consistently infuriated the Lord was when people used His name and His church as tool for their own personal gain.  Oh, how desperately I want to tell myself that this is not what I do!!!

But as I look deeply into my spirit, and even more as I allow the Lord to show me the depths of my spirit, the more I see that this is, in fact, exactly what I do.  And I wonder if there has ever been a single moment in my years of service to God that wasn’t at least partially inspired by the hope of some personal gain for myself, whether financially, politically, or socially.

So I am writing this as a calling to all of us who’ve heard that little voice inside, believing at the core of our existence that this can’t be it.  That there simply must be more.

Let’s give it up.  Whatever it is that we’re clinging to so desperately – whatever may be those “other” motives for the work that we’re doing – whatever it is that we feel we just can not live without – let’s give it up.  Let’s give it up to God.

Let’s put a day on our calendars this next month that is set aside entirely for Him.  Let’s take that day and let’s spend it alone with Him.  Let’s tell our closest loves ones that we are spending a day with our Lord, let’s pick a place where we know we won’t be disturbed, let’s get up early that morning, get dressed, grab our bottle of water, our sack lunch, our bible, our pen, our notebook, whatever God leads us to grab, let’s get in our car, and let’s go to a quiet place to spend a day with our Lord.  Let’s give Him a chance to talk to us, and to show us what are those “other” motives in our daily lives, what are the things that are keeping us from being made holy, those things that are keeping us from Him and from the life that He died to give us.

And then go tell somebody about it!!!  Give yourself some accountability and some guidance by sharing with others the things that God is saying to you.  Go after it and do whatever it takes to hold onto it, including asking those around you to help you hold on!

Much love and peace be with each of us as we go after the truth and life that is in our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Love, Miki

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