Happy June to you all!
As I write this newsletter, I am sitting at the bus station in Pärnu, Estonia waiting to depart home to Tallinn after serving at the Annual Conference of the Estonian United Methodist Church. I was invited to speak at the worship and prayer service there last night, and I spoke about knowing and walking in the will of God through prayer. We were richly blessed to witness great works of the Lord during the event. Several people received healing and deliverance, and many were filled with the Holy Spirit and renewed by the healing grace of the Father in Jesus Christ.
Walking to the bus station this morning, I passed some young people who were just coming out of a nearby bar, where they had been all night. I stopped and began talking with them, and found they were very curious about an American who had chosen to live in Estonia.
After a few minutes, I told them I was a Christian. They smiled and told me they were not believers. I said to them, “Oh, that’s ok. I just really feel like God wants you to know how much He loves you.” One young lady looked at me, and kind of smiled and said, “Well, I am really drunk right now. I’m not sure God loves me when I am drunk.”
I said to her, “No, that’s not true. There is no place that you can ever go that is so dark that His love won’t go with you. You are His daughter. He loves you.” She looked down for a moment, then looked back at me and quietly said, “Thank you.” I am sure she had become sober by the time I walked on.
In these past months, we have witnessed more and more of these encounters by the grace of God, and His delight in showing mercy. For example, I have seen the Lord reveal His love to people on European flights, in cobbled Estonian streets and bustling markets, a Greyhound bus bound for Macon, GA and even on the local trams (streetcars). I have been so encouraged as I have seen time and again that the harvest is ripe. People truly are hungry to know the love of their Father, and the gospel is enough.
If I am listening for the Holy Spirit to lead me, then I do not need to work to make the gospel “relevant” to anyone. God created our innermost being. He knows precisely the needs of each of His children, and if we are willing, He is ready to display His love to His creation even through you and me.
We thought we had found a place in May in which to finally open a prayer center in Tallinn. Then on the day of signing the lease agreement, the owner decided that we could not use the space because we were offering Christian prayer ministry, and he felt certain that we would disturb the other tenants in the building.
Since that failed attempt a few weeks ago, we have continued looking for prayer space, and have received similar “push-back” from landlords reluctant to have Christian activities on their property.
In addition to these challenges of perception, both of us had unexpected travel to the US: I went to be with a family member who was ill, and Charlie due to the passing of his grandmother. We also learned early in May that the rent on our apartment would be increasing significantly starting June 1. So after a bit of scrambling, we have just moved to another flat, which is very nice, but is smaller than where we were.
The smaller size means that Charlie has had to find another place for his audio work, as we no longer have room at home for his office. We have found a good space, and hopefully he will sign the lease on Monday.
I share all of this not to discourage, but so that we can be encouraged by the sustaining grace of our Father. We were never promised a life without trial, but we are promised that when the waters come, our Father will be with us, and that when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned.
And so we press on, praising God that no word that comes from His mouth returns to Him empty, but that it accomplishes the purpose for which He sends it! We praise Him already for the promises He has made, and are looking forward to sending an update soon on the place He is preparing for us now.
Supporting Local Churches
We continue to have great opportunities to support churches in Tallinn and throughout the region. For example, in April we were invited to help lead the IHOP ecumenical praise and worship meeting hosted every month by Harta Church. This was the first time Charlie has played his own music publicly in Estonia. I was also able to join him in helping to lead the service in a sweet time of worship and prayer. In June, the kids and I worked with the Vineyard Tallinn Church to host a pancake breakfast for the surrounding neighborhood there. Throughout the morning we went into the streets, inviting people to breakfast, and receiving many opportunities to tell people how much God loves them.
We continue to be blessed with the opportunity to support St. John’s Lutheran Church in their monthly praise and prayer service. As the “musical director” for the mass, Charlie has been meeting weekly with the young musicians there, who are learning not only to lead the time of worship on their own, but are also developing a passion for writing and production of their own worship music. I have been assisting in the development of the healing prayer ministry during that same service, and they are slowly seeing more breakthroughs in this historic church – which is so important in the Christian history and landscape of Estonia.
In May, Charlie was asked by Focus Church in Tallinn to help them with some of their audio needs for a festival they were supporting in their neighborhood, and I was able to join them for some time of prayer, both for their own congregation and for the community around them. We are very blessed to see new relationships with other churches developed and strengthened.
During our February visit to the states, many of you got to hear about the some of the unique, award-winning music projects Charlie has been privileged to work on in Europe. This spring has been rich in projects as well. Charlie’s network of colleagues and students has developed wonderfully in Estonia, throughout the Baltics and Northern Europe, as well as in Germany, Belgium, and France in Western Europe. As with all intensely relational projects, the work is not always perfectly smooth and easy, but the grace and redeeming love of God has been sustaining even in the difficult moments, and His truth and glory continues to be revealed in new ways.
Charlie will be working on an Estonian project through the rest of June, and then plans to travel into Belgium, Germany, and France in July for some production work, as well as to do some pre-planning for an upcoming audio training course he will be leading with a ministry in Paris in the fall.
Later this month, we will be joining 2 different church camps, one with a local Baptist home church ministry in Estonia, and another being hosted near Vilnius, Lithuania by the Baltic Vineyard churches. In July, while Charlie is traveling in Western Europe, the children and I plan to spend several days in Võru, Estonia, assisting the Methodist Church there with their annual English youth camp for local young people who desire to strengthen their knowledge of English.
In August we have been invited to assist a local charity with their summer camp for foster families throughout Estonia. The fostering initiative in Estonia is relatively young, and so these families get very little support. This effort to bring them together for a time of refreshing and encouragement is so very important.
We also hope to spend some time this summer assisting the Methodist Camp Gideon in Jõhvi, Estonia, and later go into Moscow and St. Petersburg to spend time with some of the congregations we know and work with there.
Looking further ahead, in October we are making plans to head back “down south” to a global conference in Albania with other missionaries serving with The Mission Society. Every 2 years, Mission Society workers from Asia, Africa, and Europe gather together for 4 days of renewal, training, and fellowship. We have been unable to join the last 2 global gatherings due to scheduling issues and lack of finances. This October, this gathering is scheduled to be held in Albania, and we currently have plans to attend.
Our tentative plan is to take 3 weeks in October, and drive down as a family to Albania for the conference. This will give us an opportunity to spend time visiting our friends serving in Montenegro and Romania for a few days, as well. We make these plans, also, with faith that we will by then have found a good van to purchase – we don’t feel the old Volvo has another cross-European trip in her:)). We appreciate your keeping these plans in your prayers in the next several months.
We want to express again our gratitude to each of you who continues to support us with your prayers, love, and finances. In every day since moving onto the field 6 years ago, we have seen the Lord provide faithfully for every need for our family. We praise Him who is our Provider, and ask for His continued favor on our family and the work we are doing here, as well as in the lives and work of all of you whom we have gotten to know through these years!
In this summer season, we pray that each of you will experience times of rest, as well as great joy as you are able to get out and to experience the beauty of the creation of our Father. Please let us know how you are, and how we can be praying for you.
Love and peace in the Lord to each of you,
Miki (and Charlie, Isabel, Jasper, and Celia)