Many greetings from our family in Estonia! Although we have had temperatures in the 50’s this week, Summer is beginning to show itself here. The long days are setting in now as well, with the sun rising at 4:00am, setting around 10:30 in the evening.
After much prayer and time spent waiting on the Lord, plans for Charlie’s next trip down to work in the refugee camps in southern Europe are beginning to take shape. Many of you know of the emotional struggle through which Charlie has been working as he has processed the things he is seeing happening in the refugee camps, and as he is waiting on guidance from his Father on specifically how and where we are to become move involved. We are so grateful, as it seems to be working out for a few men, friends and colleagues of ours, to join Charlie on his next journey south.
We are looking at late June/early July for his trip. The current plan is to go down by car, in order to carry some of the supplies we have collected for the camps. Given the recent changes in the water and land routes for refugees into Europe, we are still considering specifically where the group will visit this trip. This issue has been very heavy in our hearts and prayers in these months, and we appreciate your continued love and support as we wait together to understand the details of the plans of the Father for our specific involvement.
Did you know that our work with the refugees has been documented in multiple news outlets? For example, we’ve had articles in The Christian Post (http://www.christianpost.com/author/charlie-and-miki-chastain/) and The East-West Church Ministry Report (http://eastwestreport.org) in the last couple months. Also please check out the latest issue of The Mission Society’s Unfinished magazine – which dedicates a good portion of the the issue to serving refugees throughout the world. You can read it for free here: https://www.themissionsociety.org/unfinished-magazine
As many of you know, these past 4 months have been very intensive with work for Charlie specifically in the areas of music production, teaching, and mentoring. Last week, he completed an album with a Estonian Christian artist, who is also a worship leader in a local congregation. This was the second project on which he has worked with this young man.
By the end of June, Charlie hopes to wrap up production on two other Christian records. One record is with a local Estonian group on Charlie’s non-profit Spark! label. The other is with the Methodist Church in Russia, for which recording actually began in Moscow several months ago.
The intensity and intimacy of the process of recording and producing a record with artists naturally leads to long hours and heavy conversations about music and the inspirations behind art and creation – love, suffering, doubt, hope. Please keep these sessions and relationships in your prayers. We are designed for the very things many of us fear the most – intimacy, being vulnerable, honesty, community, and love. We are so encouraged to see God using some of these projects for breaking down walls that separate us, for drawing us closer to one another, and pulling us closer to Himself.
Sabbatical and Prayer Ministry
This week, Miki is entering into her 4th month of this year’s season of sabbatical, which we wrote about in our last newsletter. These months set aside for prayer and waiting on the Lord have proven to be more difficult than originally expected in many ways. The process of stepping away even slightly from the normal responsibilities of the work she is doing here has been scary and humbling. But it has become clear that the timing of this sabbatical aligns well within the ministry work of prayer here, as well as the period of transition we are experiencing in other areas of work and life.
Last weekend, Miki assisted in leading a prayer conference for the students at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Tallinn, and was blessed with the privilege of praying for students and teaching on holiness. She was very encouraged and blessed with the time of instruction, learning, and praying together with the pastors and students. If you’d like to read the transcript of her teaching, please look for it on her facebook page, called More than Enough – A Prayer Ministry. (https://www.facebook.com/Aprayerministry/)
Along with sabbatical, Miki continues to facilitate regular prayer meetings with various groups and individuals. She is also organizing a ladies’ prayer retreat to be held near the end of her sabbatical in August, in Viljandi, Estonia. This retreat will be open for ladies desiring to get away for a couple of nights of prayer and restoration. They will take a 2-hour train ride together to Viljandi, and will spend time there praying for Estonia and Europe. They will also participate together in an 8-mile silent prayer walk around Viljandi Lake. Please keep these weeks and months in your prayers, and thank you for your continued love and support for the deepening movement of prayer here in Estonia and Europe.
Asbury Seminary Master’s of Divinity
This month, we are so blessed to share with you an amazing opportunity that has opened up for our family, and for the development of the work we are doing here. Miki has recently been accepted into the Master’s of Divinity program at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky! She will complete two-thirds of the degree online, while we continue to live and work full-time here in Europe.
Our family will travel to Kentucky for 6-8 weeks during the next 3 Summers, beginning 2017, in order for Miki to complete the on-campus required courses. We are hopeful that this time in the U.S. will also allow us to come and see many of you, and to be able to discuss and pray with you all about the things we see happening in Europe, and the work to which we feel called here.
We also want to share with you an opportunity to partner with Miki in this program, through a scholarship Asbury has offered her, called the Ministry Partners Program. Currently, tuition at Asbury Seminary is about $17,250/ year for a full-time student. This scholarship is designed so that students partner with their church and with sponsoring individuals who commit to participate in the seminary education through prayer and giving. Specifically, by finding partners to contribute a total of little less than half of the annual tuition, the remaining balance of Miki’s tuition will be covered by the scholarship.
Many of you know that Miki has been taking classes in the undergraduate theology program at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary here in Tallinn. She has desired to pursue this Master’s degree for a number of years, but did not imagine she would ever be able to, given our living and working in Europe, and the high cost of American seminary. We feel that this an amazing opportunity for development of the ministry here, as she is working more and more in prayer counseling, pastoral care, and discipleship training. Additionally, her earning the Master’s of Divinity degree will open up new doors and opportunities for ministry and possibly even ordination in the distant future.
Recently, we have felt a strong conviction that we should be careful to not limit our efforts in ministry to pursuing only those things that we feel we can pull off on our own. We are not designed to work in complete independence, separated from one another in our own wisdom and strength! We believe that by working more in areas of ministry that are dependent on the support and love of others around us, we will see a greater renewal of growth and unity in the Church, as well as a deepening in the faith of the community of followers of Jesus Christ.
We also want to be careful not to create a sense of guilt or burden by letting you know of this scholarship. We are so grateful for you all, and for all that you have done for us over these years, and continue to do for the Kingdom every day. We are sending you all this information simply to let you know of the opportunity, and to invite those who feel led to join us in this new endeavor. And feel free to pass the info on to your small groups and Sunday School classes.
If you feel you would like to support Miki in this degree, you may either send an email to her at email@example.com, or go to the Asbury website for this scholarship:https://myats.asburyseminary.edu/mpp and let them know.
Thank you again for your support and for your great example of faith through your continued love and prayers. We would love to hear from you! Please send us a note and let us know how you are.
Love and blessings,
Charlie, Miki, Isabel, Jasper and Celia
Ways to donate to this ministry:
By Check: Send a check to the following address, noting “Chastain/Russia 322” in the memo:
The Mission Society
6234 Crooked Creek Road
Norcross, GA 30092
By Credit/Debit Card: Go to: https://themissionsociety.org/give
In the box noting: “Give to a Missionary”, fill in the amount and 0322 for the “Four-digit Missionary ID#”