Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas from the Chastain Family

Charlie spent some days this summer working with a prayer team at a village home for single, orphan-grad mothers outside of St. Petersburg.  During their time at the home, Charlie and the team were invited by one of the young mothers to attend the baptism of her baby, who would be baptized along with other local children in a ceremony, which they were very honored to accept.

The next day the team joined the other mothers and children and the staff workers from the home for the slow journey through weather-torn, back-country, Russian roads to an old village Orthodox Church where the baptism was to take place.  The main wooden church structure had survived WWII, the Soviet purge of religion and decades of harsh winter.  It had recently been “renovated” – basically some reinforcement of the old wooden beams and a lot of lacquer.  However, when you’d find yourself in between whiffs of incense, you could still smell the mildew and rot.

Once the women had all properly covered their heads in scarves, and everyone had made their way inside, you could feel the apprehension in the team members.  Our Russian team members all came from Protestant backgrounds, and most had heard nothing but awful things about the Orthodox Church.  Even our American Methodist team members didn’t know what to expect.

As the service started, the priest appeared in his traditional robes and began singing an old Orthodox spiritual, exclaiming in a low, droning chant the Kingdom of God, and the lordship of Jesus Christ.  After this time of prayer and worship, the priest slowly walked the families and their babies from the church entrance to the altar – symbolically moving the child from outside of the Body to the inside of the Body.  Baptismal candles were passed around to family members who were there to witness the anointing of this baby as a child of Almighty God.  Slowly, each was lit, as a symbol of the power of the light of Jesus Christ as it burns in each one of His children, and as a reminder to each one of them of their responsibility to help ensure that same light is ignited through love in the life of that precious baby.

It was during these moments of the service when the team began to notice the change that had occurred in that place, or perhaps the change that occurred in their own spirits.  They began to see in that old, and in some places rotting wood floor a very real, and unshakable foundation, built upon the love of Jesus Christ.  They began to see in that group of rejected, single mothers and children a beautiful family, clinging desperately to the grace of God, committed to loving and caring for one another through any storm.  They began to see in that awkward mix of Orthodox and Protestant confessions the beautiful Bride of Christ.  They began to see in that dusty and damp chapel a holy and sacred sanctuary, in which the presence of God – His mighty love for each one of His children there that day – left them without words.

This Christmas, as we ponder that magnificent birth one night 2,000 years ago in that filthy, smelly stable, we thank God for His Son, who brings a message for those of us who know too well, and reside too often in the dark, filthy, rotting places.  He goes to the darkest layers of bitter rage, and ravaging lust, and insidious pride, and He builds His kingdom of love there.  This is work that only He Himself could do to save His children, and so in His love, He did do it.

We thank you so much for your love and support these years, and we pray a very merry and sacred Christmas for each of you this year.

Love,
Charlie, Miki, Isabel, Jasper, Celia

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The Chastains December 2013 Newsletter

Tallinn-Christmas-MarketWarmest Christmas greetings from Estonia! As I was sitting down to write this update, I was reminded to take a few minutes to lift up to the Lord each of you who will receive and read this newsletter. It is a great joy for me to be able to pray for the peace and blessing of the Holy Spirit to fill each area of your lives! We are so blessed to know each of you, and to be able to count you as our family, especially in this time of celebration of the birth of our Savior.

First, we want to say thank you for all that you are doing to support us and the work we are doing here. It is sometimes hard to put into words the significance and richness of the great works of healing and freedom by the Lord that we see happening around us here. This month, as we share a bit about some of this work, we also want to tell you about some financial needs we’ve seen arise in recent weeks:

  • As dips in support are common by the end of the year, our general account balance from which comes our regular salary and housing expenses has entered into the red, and so we need to make an appeal at this time in order to see that balance enter back into a healthy range that will ensure we can stay here and continue the work.
  • Last month, a fuel injector in our car blew out, and so we have been without a vehicle since then. We are very blessed with a wonderful bus system in Tallinn! However, we do have some trips planned in upcoming weeks, and so are making an appeal for the funds required to make the repairs so that we can get our vehicle running again! The cost of these repairs will be around $1,800.
  • Finally, we are hoping to arrange a trip to the U.S. for Charlie in March to come visit many of you face-to-face as well as try to establish new relationships with other churches and individuals considering partnering with us. In fact, please pass this newsletter on to folks who you feel may be interested in participating in our efforts in Russia and Estonia. We are thankful for email and Skype, of course! But we know that nothing beats sitting down with friends and family and a cup of coffee for catching up and answering questions in order to really have an understanding of how things are going here. We expect this trip to cost about $1,500.

If you would like to give to assist us with any of these issues, here’s how:

Checks can be sent to the following address, noting “Chastain/Russia 322” in the memo:

 The Mission Society
6234 Crooked Creek Road
Norcross, GA 30092

 

To make a donation by credit card or debit, or make a monthly pledge:

Go to our website: http://www.actsofadvocacy.org and click on “Give” to go to the Mission Society “donations” page.

 

Orphanage ministry – In cooperation with partners from both the U.S. and Russia, we were able to fund a roofing project, which was completed last month on a rural orphanage located 2 hours outside of St. Petersburg. We want to thank you for your faithful support of our brothers and sisters who are serving the orphan community of this region. For those of you who had a direct role in this project, the orphanage director and her staff extends their warm thanks and Christmas greetings to you! We did it!

 

Urgent prayer request – We also ask for your prayers for the husband of the director of this same facility, who was recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer. His name is Slava – and he is a great support for his wife and the orphanage. He is very involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the facility, and as well as a “father-figure” for the children living there. Our hope is for nothing less than a miracle, and for the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit to fill their home and all of their lives in these days.

 

Prayer Ministry – Last month Miki was invited to help facilitate a “Week of Prayer” event with Scripture Union Estonia here in Tallinn. The activities included a day of prayer at the Methodist Church, as well as a healing prayer service, which Miki led with a group of drug/alcohol rehab patients at the Salvation Army Church. These days were precious, filled with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and resulted in much healing and freedom in the lives of several people.

Miki has also begun to join the weekly food/clothing distribution at the Salvation Army here in Tallinn, where she provides prayer ministry for the volunteers, and is also available for individual prayer ministry to those who come to receive aid and support. She also meets regularly with folks in our home for individual prayer ministry, and is planning later this week to join the Methodist Church in Võru, located in Southern Estonia, for a Day of Prayer for this region and for the development of the prayer ministry there.

In upcoming months, Miki has been invited to help facilitate healing prayer retreats with the Methodist Church near Moscow, Russia, and with the Methodist Seminary in Tallinn. She has also been invited to attend the Salvation Army Spring retreat to provide a day of healing prayer ministry for the staff and volunteers there.

 

Prayer Retreat Center – We know so many of you are standing alongside us in prayer and expectation as we see the Lord working out the vision for a prayer retreat center here in Estonia. We do ask for continued prayers about this, as we wait on the Lord to fulfill His great plan in His perfect time. We are continuing to talk and pray with the Scripture Union Estonia about the development of property they own outside of Tallinn. This fall, the road onto the property was grated and restored, and so Miki hopes to get out there in upcoming days to pray and to see how the development is going first-hand, at which time we hope to provide a more detailed update, including photos!

It is important to remember what is our calling here, and that it is not just about building a physical space, or even developing a prayer ministry for ourselves or for the people here in Estonia and Russia. We are called here to ignite, deepen, and set forth a prayer movement, which will extend well beyond our region, to communities all throughout Europe! We are called to see the Kingdom of God established in this place. We see these opportunities – developing a prayer ministry, providing healing prayer support and training to pastors, christian workers, orphans and rehab patients, and building prayer retreat centers – as means to fulfilling that great calling.

 

This time of year, it is easy to become overwhelmed contemplating the great blessings in our lives, as we are living and working and raising our family here in Estonia. We cannot express our gratitude enough to you, as we are constantly reminded that these things are only possible because of your faithful love and support. We pray that this season may be filled with great peace, and that you may know the love of the Father for each of you, His precious children.

Many blessings in Him –

 Charlie, Miki, Isabel, Jasper, Celia

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