Greetings from Tallinn! Spring has officially (finally) arrived here in Estonia! The birds are singing and the flowers are starting to pop up from their winter’s rest. It is a beautiful time to enjoy the creation of our Lord, and to celebrate the new life He brings!
I sincerely apologize that we have been out of touch for so long. It has felt at times this past winter that we were stretched a bit too far. Between family time, music and prayer ministries, development of the prayer retreat center, seminary, leading our small group, and some traveling we’ve done, we feel like we’ve been just on the surface of things. I want to be very careful not to offer this as a complaint, however, because this work and this life is precious – really sweeter than any of my wildest dreams as a young lady growing up in Georgia and considering the journey God was laying out before me. I only share this with you, our supporters, because we feel that by late May the demands of a few of these things will be “easing off” for the summer, and we are looking forward to “re-connecting” in some ways with ourselves and with our loved ones back home. We plan to catch up on our newsletters and our blog posts, as well as to see several of you who are making plans to come visit us in Estonia and Russia! Now, for an update!
Miki has continued to meet with various individuals in Russia and Estonia for prayer ministry, including regular prayer sessions and a trip to minister at a Women’s Retreat in St. Petersburg in April. As can be imagined, the need for respecting the privacy of these precious people makes it impossible to share all of the details about the work of the Lord in these sessions. But we do want to offer praise to God for great healing and new life that He is bringing, and also to provide some examples to make it easier for folks to be able to visualize what prayer ministry here looks like.
What does a “prayer session” look like?
In her experience here, Miki has found that prayer sessions consist almost entirely of listening. Typically, sessions start by Miki listening to the person receiving prayer, and asking them specifically why they desire to come to the Lord for healing in their lives, and what they feel like He may want to do. The rest of the time together is spent in prayer, and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Together they simply invite the Holy Spirit to come and bring healing and guidance about how He wants to move in the person’s life. The healing process often requires several hours spent in prayer, listening for the Lord’s voice and asking for His healing according to His will. Therefore, Miki will often pray with an individual regularly over the course of several weeks, for example.
In the case of retreats, then Miki will do a more general prayer session with several people at a time. In these times, Miki will typically pray for each person in the session for just a few minutes, listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit about what He may want to do specifically for each individual.
In all cases of prayer ministry, Miki seeks to be careful to only pray for those things as the Holy Spirit leads AND as the individual who is receiving prayer agrees is appropriate. In the case that Miki feels she has received direction from the Holy Spirit, but finds that the individual receiving prayer doesn’t agree with what she is feeling, then she simply acknowledges that she may have heard incorrectly, and they move on.
Recent fruit of prayer ministry
A few examples from Miki of some of the work she has seen in recent weeks through the prayer ministry:
- Clear evidence and testimony of God’s restoration of life and “normalcy” in the homes and daily lives of individuals who have been grieving the loss of loved ones, either through death or broken relationships.
- Several works of physical healing, including cleared asthma (being able to sleep peacefully throughout the night for the first time in years), restored agility in injured shoulder/arm, and immediate release of headaches and back pain.
- Testimony from individuals who have literally felt a “lifting” or “release” from their spirits or bodies as the Lord has delivered them from evil spirits or influences, which had been plaguing them for various reasons and often over many years.
- Conviction for a number of individuals, some of whom have been active in the church for years, that they had never actually confessed Jesus as their Lord, and who were led by the Holy Spirit to invite Him into their hearts as their personal Savior.
- Confession of sin, and the resulting, immediate release from the chains of that sin into freedom. (On a couple of occasions, the Holy Spirit shared a vision of a “piercing” that He was doing into this area of sickness and death in the individual’s life, and of the rotting, smelly infection of that sin just flowing out from the person’s spirit. We always followed this work by asking the Holy Spirit to wash in that newly revealed area from where the sin had been removed, and to restore new life there.)
- A number of times words of guidance have been shared by the Holy Spirit for individuals. Examples I have seen include the Lord showing a woman that she needs to take a break, even a “vacation” with Him (He misses her!), showing a man a path towards becoming a pastor in Russia, and confirming to a lady His call into ministry (she confessed she’d been trying to ignore this calling:)).
Just after we returned from our trip to the U.S. In February, I knew the Lord was calling me to take a few days of retreat by myself. So, in March I spent 2 nights away in silent retreat with Him. The experience of that time was not as I had expected, honestly. I remember that first night in prayer having this strong image of the Lord Jesus asking me to let Him wash my feet. I just cried and cried as I felt the Lord saying to me, “Miki, you’ve been walking in some treacherous places. You need me to restore your feet and to cleanse you from some of the death you have witnessed in this time.” I know that He did a great work of restoration in my life in those days, and I was actually pretty worn out for about a week after I came home! But I knew that real life and joy had been freshly restored. Praise the Lord, who is always good and faithful to provide all that we need.
Prayer Retreat Center Update
The development of the prayer retreat center has seen progress, and is an area where we continue to ask for much prayer. On one hand we are greatly encouraged as we feel the Lord may be opening doors to ultimately develop this type of center in a few places in this region in addition to Estonia, including Latvia, Ukraine and Russia. However, as we are developing these partnerships with other ministries who share this vision for prayer retreat, we are seeing that much relational and spiritual healing may be needed first, before the actual construction of a center will be able to start.
Developing prayer ministry now
As a result, we began considering whether the Lord may be leading us to find a smaller, less expensive location within Tallinn to begin to use immediately for the prayer ministry. We obviously are not able to afford a place with the facilities (including a prayer garden, chapel, library for example) that we ultimately hope to build outside of the city. But we have been looking at places that are big enough to host small group prayer meetings (2-3 people), healing prayer training sessions (8-10 people), and at least one room that offers privacy for the weekly individual sessions currently taking place.
After a good bit of research, we have found a larger flat that will be able to house our family, as well as the current prayer ministry needs. We signed the lease today, and will move to our new home at the beginning of June!
Our family of 5 has become accustomed to living in about 600 square feet over the years, and now we’ll move into just over 1000. This gives our family a little more “breathing room” plus a space for a ministry for about 100 more euros a month. The atmosphere is a bit more “Russian” than our current modern flat, and to be honest, our family has missed it! The living room area will be dual use: during training sessions, the furniture will be moved and replaced with folding chairs. Our LCD tv is large enough to handle power point presentations and training videos. Miki will also have space for an office and privacy for the individual sessions to take place on site. No more scrambling to find a location to do prayer ministry!
Holding onto the vision
The vision for the prayer retreat center has not changed. Ultimately, as the doors for construction of the prayer retreat center/prayer garden/chapel outside of Tallinn practically open, then we will move forward in that. We are only considering this more immediate and perhaps temporary option for this time because:
- The need for a space dedicated and consecrated for the work of prayer ministry is needed in this region now.
- The development of a more formal program and location for training prayer ministers to serve at the prayer retreat center through prayer healing ministry is needed now.
- The ability for Miki to do prayer ministry and to develop prayer ministry training materials at home is a wonderful blessing especially at this time while our 2 youngest children are still at home full-time. We praise the Lord whose timing is perfect for all of those involved in this ministry, including our children!
Clearly, this is a decision for which we are asking your prayers, and about which we would love to hear from those of you who feel the Lord may have a word He’d like to share with us. We are working to be very careful to act responsibly with the support you all are giving towards this project. We do want to move forward in this ministry, but only as the Lord is leading and in His perfect timing.
At-risk Childrens Ministry
Most of you are aware of the US Adoption Ban that Russia signed into law in late December. While our activities were never connected with adoption in any way, we still have to use caution with the relationships we maintain with orphanages, shelters and individuals and churches who work with at-risk kids. The scrutiny that played a big part in our move from Russia is still there, but the work carries on. This summer, we’ll be working with teams set to make new relationships with an orphanage just outside of St. Petersburg, with plans to repair some roofing issues, establish a prayer ministry dedicated to the children and staff onsite and, of course, plenty of playing, hugging and laughing with the kids!
In addition to short-term teams, we still maintain relationships with the Grace Center for Homeless Mothers, Krilova House and its partner orphanages in Volkhov, and the United Methodist Church and their various outreach projects. As we travel back and forth into St. Petersburg this summer, we hope to bring back news of other shelters, hospitals and orphanages reopening their doors to outside help. We’ve been hearing some positive stories as of late, so pray that this continues!
Since our last music update, lots of great projects have taken place! In January, Charlie finished up Laura Llorens’ latest release. Laura is a popular folk artist in Paris, and often leads outreach thru music in the Paris subway system with another Mission Society connection, Gustavo Faleiro. It’s been pretty amazing to see how God connects individuals for the sake of the Kingdom. In November, we welcomed Jesuan Amaral of the Brazilian band Eko into our home for few days. Jesuan and Charlie played a quick coffeehouse gig in Tallinn, and a good time was had by all. Many of you know that Charlie produced Eko’s first album way back in 2009, and it was great to reconnect and talk about the future. Eko has since signed on to a label and their next album is coming soon. Also in November came the release of SubCultura’s latest album titled “My Freedom”. Charlie had recorded the Russian Christian pop-rock band shortly before moving to Estonia, and its great to see the album finally out. After our quick visit to the US in February, it was time to begin a few more projects. Juhan Ungru, an Estonian worship leader from the small island of Saaremaa, began preproduction of his first album in April and Charlie’s in the final stages of completing the tracks now. Just this last week, Charlie began work on a new worship album for Matteus Elbrecht, another great songwriter from Tallinn. There are at least 3 more Christian music projects waiting to get started by the fall. God is calling these artists to contribute songs to their cultures respective canons, and they need your prayers and support to help spread the Gospel in Europe thru song. For more info on Charlie’s production ministry or to hear tracks from these various artist, please check out www.charliechastain.com.
We want to express our sincere gratitude on behalf of our family to all of you again for your faithful support through love, prayers, finances and all that you do to help us live and work here in Eastern Europe. We pray that you all will be able to get a sense of the love that God is revealing to our family and to many around us through this work, and that you will be filled with His peace and joy in these days.
Much Love in Christ, Charlie and Miki