Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Incomprehensible is the power of prayer – particularly prayer led by the Holy Spirit.
After having lived here for a few years now, I still cannot grasp the depth of the scars that exist in this region of the world. So much of the recent and not-so-recent history of this place has left such wounds and fears and pain that sometimes it can feel almost difficult to breath under the weight of it.
After my own experience receiving healing through prayer about 6 years ago, I felt like God may have been calling me to learn more about that type of ministry and to consider whether it was something I was called to do in Russia. Some time later, though still before we moved here, I remember a conversation I had with a missionary friend who had already been living in St. Petersburg for a few years. He and I were discussing the issue of the questionable therapies and medicines that were being used in some of the disabled children’s homes with which we were working. It was during this conversation that I first actually said out loud to someone – “Why don’t we ever consider healing as an option for these kids?” My friend hesitated, kind of turned his head in thought, and answered, “I don’t know.”
I became more intentional about praying for healing and the establishment of a healing ministry here shortly after my time in the Russian hospital when our son was born – almost 3 years ago. I remember how strongly I could feel the residue of spiritual oppression that seemed to hang in that hospital, which is over 100 years old, and which has seen atrocities I can not even imagine, having existed during such events as the Russian Revolution of 1917, the German siege of St. Petersburg during the second World War, and through the years of Stalin’s bloody Soviet Union.
This was also when I first began envisioning what prayer ministry might look like in this area of the world. I began asking U.S. churches to consider sending over prayer teams who could just come and spend their days walking around orphanages and hospitals and churches, covering them in prayer. I started talking to local pastors about holding days of prayer ministry at their churches. I became more active in my personal prayer life, covering myself and my family more regularly in prayer, as well as our building and our neighborhood in St. Petersburg.
It was about 18 months later when I received my first invitation from a local church to lead a day of training and ministry in healing prayer for some local pastors. I began meeting with local church groups and pastors quite often to pray for healing for them – physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. But still, I felt like I was barely even making a scratch in the surface, and just felt strongly that in order for major healing to come to this place, I could not be the only person trained and committed to doing healing prayer ministry. I continued to pray, and even long not only for the development of a place specifically designated for healing prayer and training for the people in this region, but also for a community of others who felt that same calling to healing prayer ministry.
Then we realized we would be moving to Estonia. And, quite honestly, we were floored. This was not at all what we had anticipated for our family. But, to my amazement and great joy, as we first began exploring the beautiful country of Estonia in those first months after moving here, I found myself for the first time being able to actually visualize a prayer retreat center. I couldn’t stop the image from entering my mind as we drove past miles and miles of beautiful Estonian fields and forests. Several times in those quiet drives with my family I had tears in my eyes as I felt the Lord almost welcoming me to join Him in His vision for this place.
The image of a prayer retreat center was so strong for me that after some months (and after the birth of our daughter here in Tallinn), I began looking for land available for sale, and began discussing with many local people and supporters and mentors in the U.S. the logistics of starting an Estonian charity and actually building such a facility. Through these discussions, I have not only gained a great deal of knowledge about what such a process would look like here in Estonia, but I have had opportunities to meet some wonderful and amazing people. And it has been through some of these meetings that the story as I can see it with my own eyes has begun to get very interesting.
It turns out (God forgive me for my self-righteous pride!) that I have not been the only person praying and longing for a prayer retreat center for the pastors and christian leaders of this region these past years. In fact, it seems that my 3 or 4 years of lifting up this vision to the Lord is just barely a drop in the bucket of the prayers that many brothers and sisters in this place have been lifting themselves, some fervently for many, many years.
One recent meeting in particular I’d like to share as an example, and as a way to give a bit of an update: Late in August, I met with a sister who is a leader in a local church in Estonia. We met through a mutual friend who said he thought we both were called to prayer ministry and should meet. She and I arranged to meet at the park near our flat, so we could walk and talk and get to know each other. She invited me to share my calling with her, and so I took a few minutes to describe to her our story, and how I’d come to feel called to start a prayer retreat center in Estonia. I explained that I’d found a piece of land that I was praying about purchasing for the project, and that I was learning about starting an Estonian charity, and all of the other details I could think to share about what I felt the Lord calling me to do.
During most of my story, this lady just walked silently beside me listening and only remarking occasionally about how I was right that pastors in this region were burned out and needed a place for retreat and renewal. After I finished talking, I actually became a little nervous that I wasn’t getting much of a response from her, as she just kind of seemed to be quietly reflecting on what I’d said.
After a few moments, she looked at me with a little smile, and said, “You know, in 2009 the Christian charity that I lead here in Estonia purchased some land about 40 kilometers outside of Tallinn for exactly that same purpose.”
I sort of froze, not quite sure I’d heard her correctly. Slowly, I answered, “No, I didn’t know that.”
“Well we did,” she said. “But we ran out of money, and have been consumed with other ministries so that nothing has ever been built there. That land is still sitting there, un-used.”
She and I just kind of stood there looking at each other in silence for a few moments, before I said, “Hmm, that’s really interesting.” To which she responded, “Yes, it is.”
She then told me that she had been praying for healing for this region and for a place for spiritual retreat since 2001. She said she’d even given up praying for it for a few years before they found this land and purchased it in 2009. After this, neither of us could really think of anything else to say. We were both stunned a bit by what seemed to have just happened. As we were walking together in that park, it felt almost literally as though after praying the same prayer and receiving the same vision from God for years, He was allowing our paths finally to simply come together.
And I’ve had several similar experiences in recent months specifically regarding the vision God has given me for healing prayer ministry here. I can not fathom what must be the vast number of prayers that have been lifted from hearts crying out over the years for healing in this place. And it is clear that God has been hearing those prayers, and that He has been working.
But many have not been able to see his work. I am humbled by the realization that so many have gone before me praying for this vision that God has given for healing in this region, and that so many may have never seen it come to pass in their life times. I think we were both humbled to silence standing there in that park, our spirits only barely able to mutter, “Oh, dear Father, you HAVE been working. Oh, God, have mercy on me.”
And so as we continue on this journey, waiting to see what God has for us, I invite you to join in with the multitude of warriors who have gone before us, crying out to God to bring His healing to this deeply scarred and broken region of the world. I am blessed and confident to assure you – He is hearing our cries. And He is working mightily.
Love in Christ our Lord – Miki