Welcome! It's wonderful to see you here!

I'm a passionate writer - and therefore spend most of my time writing thriller novels. But I also live an interesting life in the nations. This blog is here for that aspect of my life - our life - I live with my wonderful wife and two daughters.

I believe in encouragement. I live for obedience. I believe in learning from our experiences, and this blog exists for both of those, and more.

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I was part of the leadership team in St Petersburg, Russia - which planted Hope Church in 2009.(www.hopechurchstpetersburg.com).
In March 2012 Hope Church sent my family to plant into Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia. I therefore lead this small but growing church plant team. Here is the website for Hope Tallinn (www.hopetallinn.ee)

For details on our journey here, read the series called Adventures of Faith which is linked for you on the right hand column, just below. That details our original journey to Russia and then onto Tallinn 4 years later.

Author for fiction novels - Cherry Picking (2012), The Last Prophet (2015), The Tablet (2015) and The Shadow Man (2016) are available on all major bookselling sites. Please visit: www.timheathbooks.com

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mission Realities - Good Communication

Communication is vital in all aspects of life nowadays and this is especially true when you are maybe thousands of miles away from those people that have backed you, supported you and continue to do so.

I would strongly recommend that you don't wait until you are abroad or have left your home base before building up your communication.

My experience has been that a lot came out of the strong communication channels that were set up long before be left.

Explore the new technologies - don't dismiss something because you don't understand it.

For me this was Facebook. I have come across people who are 'anti' such networks as a principle, which I just have to accept, but if you are going on mission you need to use as much communication as possible, and therefore you need to use what most other people (including your supporters) are already using.
Facebook for us has become a real tool - which is the real purpose of any new technology as long as you use it correctly and wisely.

I would highly recommend it.

It's most useful function is the Groups that you can set up. In a moment of...guidance?...I set up the 'Tim & Rachel to Russia' group. It is a prayer group that people could join. We can just send one message that goes to all member and they get the messages in their email inbox (if they've allowed that option, otherwise its just on Facebook).
In the first few weeks only a few people were in the group but as our updates were sent out (for us each Tuesday) the numbers grew and today its around 150 people I think - from 6 continents. Christians united around the world to partner with us in prayer.

This group was started about 10 months before we left the UK.

Now, and there have been plenty of times already, we have an instant large group of people to send a message to for prayer when an emergency has arisen.

But also by involving people in your journey, at least a part of your journey, it really helps people know how to support you as they feel they are part of things.

We also had some contact/business cards made up (visit Vista Print who do them very cheap). This gave details of the Facebook group, as well as our email and Skype address (voice over Internet phone service). We strongly urged most people interesting in our journey to sign up to Facebook, of which about 90% were able to, if not already using it. It's just the most convenient way for us to communicate to a large group all at the same time.
Who knows, in 10 years time there may be 10,000 members. Think of the problems you'd have if you'd just relied on emailing people....Facebook could easily handle that number which is why we used it...forward thinking you see.

We also have sent out a PDF news sheet. This serves those who are not on Facebook (yet) or who do not have Internet access (the church prints and sends to them on our behalf). It also puts in more detail and can include photo's and while it took some work to knock it into shape, the comments were all good and it helped people to know a bit more about our life here.

Why not use video? We recorded a short video which was played at our church about two weeks after we got here. And, need I mention it again, Facebook can take all your videos and photo's which you can add to your Group to give your members an even clearer picture of your new adventures.

And for even extra depth, I started a blog (which your reading now). Originally I'd done this on a different site having first written from June 2007, but once here our Internet provider couldn't handle Microsoft so out went hotmail & windows spaces and in came Gmail and Blogger. I decided I really wanted to document our journey, writing a series I called 'Adventures of Faith' and for those that wanted to read more I mentioned this site on Facebook updates (and have even linked the group to here).

I hope in all these things you've understood the value of good, clear communication. It's not about lots of stuff all the time, its about what people need to hear (your most urgent prayer requests for example) in a way that works for all.

Without communication you can't share your vision and why you are going. Without communication you are not going to attract people to support you. Without supporters you are not going to go anywhere (supports do a lot more than finance so even if your financially sound you need people there - see my first article in this series on Loneliness if you are still unsure).

I do hope this communication has been clear. God bless.
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