Hello, dear friends! As we write this update for you all, we are preparing to go back to school on September 1st, and are enjoying some cooler temperatures as Fall begins to make its arrival.
In July, Charlie visited the Moria transit camp on the small Greek Island of Lesbos just off of the coast of Turkey. This Island received almost 1 million refugees (crossing the sea in rubber rafts, dinghies, whatever floats) in 2015, and Moria was set up to help with the resulting humanitarian needs. Charlie and two colleagues from The Mission Society assisted a partner organization in helping feed 3500 refugees each day. The work was intense – and the team made frequent video updates via Facebook. Please visit this site to see all of the videos for stories and practical ways in which you can help!
Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to visit the refugee camp in the French port city of Calais. Charlie was able to go into the make-shift camp, where he was able to see first-hand some of the incredibly difficult conditions and to meet with some of the local volunteers. Currently there are just over 9,000 people in this camp, with the number expected to reach 10,000 by the end of the year. Charlie made three short videos of his time in Calais – which you can watch here:
While some security measures have been put in place, the Calais camp is not an officially recognized camp. This means that all provisions for food, water, and sanitation are met by the refugees themselves, or through individual volunteers who come in every day. Larger, humanitarian organizations are not generally permitted to work in a camp like Calais, without official recognition and invitation from the nation of France.
Conditions in the Calais camp include:
– Human waste, trash, and large rats covering the grounds.
– Extremely high risk of trafficking for women and children, particularly unaccompanied minors.
– Practically zero prospects for work or productivity day after day – breeding feelings of hopelessness, stagnation and boredom, leading to increased risk of violence and extremism.
In all of these camps, it is important to recognize and respect the position of the hosting nation. However, all parties recognize that it is for the welfare of both the refugees and the surrounding community that the refugees’ basic needs for shelter, food, water, and sanitation be met. Practically, in Calais this means that a small number of portable toilets have been brought into the camp, local police are present, and small groups of volunteers are working throughout the grounds. Additionally, these volunteers must be “portable”, meaning they must take all of their supplies in and out of the camp each day.
In October, we will be spending time once again in in the Moria Camp on Lesbos, where we will volunteer with partner organizations and other TMS workers. Charlie will likely go down for a few days early in the month to meet with teams and work on project logistics. Miki will go down later in October with a small team of volunteers for about 10 days to assist with food preparation and distribution.
Unlike Calais, Moria is an officially recognized refugee camp. This means charitable organizations are invited to come into Moria and serve on a larger, more effective scale. The people live in tents, but food (i.e. generally pasta) and basic sanitation facilities are provided. Moria is heavily guarded with high, barbed fences and heavy police presence. Residents are allowed to leave the camp only with specific permission, and so frustration and tension levels in this camp run high.
So, how can you get involved?
First, we ask sincerely for your prayers for these people and for the conditions inside all of these camps. The deeper, more insidious issues of trauma, fear, isolation, and hopelessness in these communities must be addressed through prayer.
Second, consider how you may be called to get involved practically in these communities. If you would like to financially support the groups who are actively serving in these camps daily, please contact us and we can get you directly in touch with the appropriate individuals and groups for this type of support.
If you feel that you may be called to come and spend 10 days to several months volunteering yourself in one of these camps, please contact us. We are happy to begin that conversation with you, and to help you seek out the resources and preparations necessary for you to fulfill that calling.
Earlier this month, Miki went down to the little town of Viljandi, Estonia with a group of ladies, where they spent 2 days praying together for Estonia, Europe and the Church. They also broke off individually and each completed an 8 mile (13.5 km) prayer walk around Viljandi Lake, for about 4 – 5 hours filled with walking, reading, praying, listening and worshiping.
These days of prayer were rich with healing, restoration, and new understanding of the promises we have in our Lord. Specifically, we each gained insight and peace regarding the visions and work we have been given. Each of us was blessed with a deeper realization of the beauty and hope of God’s movement in Estonia, and His plan to continue the building and deepening of His Church here, a place which “shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”. (Isaiah 56:7)
We also agreed that these ladies prayer walks and weekends are something we should begin to arrange regularly in this season. We are hoping to hold our next prayer weekend in October, before the weather gets too cold. We also have begun praying for a strengthening in relationships with the local community in Viljandi, and for a deepening in our own faith to continue to move forward, taking the steps we can discern as He opens up the path before us.
Miki also asks that you continue to keep the ladies’ prayer group in Tallinn in your thoughts and prayers, as we continue to meet monthly in each other’s homes, and to pray and wait on our Lord together.
Seminary Funding Update
As you know, in September Miki will also be going “back to school”, as she starts her first semester of the Master’s of Divinity program at Asbury Seminary. We want to thank all of you who have committed to support her this first year through the Ministry Parters Program (MPP). Currently, she has raised a little more than half of her required portion of the tuition for the first year.
Through MPP, Miki is required to raise a little less than 40% of the annual tuition cost, and the remaining balance will be covered by the MPP scholarship. If you would like to be a part of this journey with Miki and our family through a tax-deductible gift, you can either:
– Call Tammy Hogan in the Development office at Asbury Seminary (859-858-2238)
– Use the online form at https://myats.asburyseminary.edu/mpp, where you can select Miki’s name from the drop-down list, and indicate the specific amount and method of your contribution.
It is such a blessing to us be able to write and share with you all a little about the things we see happening around us here in Estonia and throughout Europe. We thank you sincerely for your continued prayers and support, and invite you to be in touch with us, and to let us know how you are and some of the ways you feel the Lord speaking and ministering in your life these days!
With love and gratitude…
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#”