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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Thursday, March 29, 2012

BNG - 17

What's special about this photo, taken from our flat, was that back in January 2011, when we had just arrived here on holiday from St Petersburg, with no personal idea yet that we'd be moving to Tallinn, we traveled down Tartu Mnt, the street we now live on, on our way to the hotel we were staying in back then.  And being dark (it was wintertime!) I distinctly remember passing these shops and offices, the orange, red, green and white signs lit up from behind to shine out into the night.  After the airport, it was certainly my first memory of Tallinn.  And now, 14 months on from then, we live in a flat directly opposite these same shops and offices as residents of Estonia.  So I guess you just never know what impressions from the past are going to be relevant to your present!
As this month has pressed on, we've thrown ourselves at trying to get settled and into a rhythm as soon as possible - and four weeks on from first arriving, I guess the freshness is wearing off and the realities setting in.  By this time in the week we are rather tired!
Routine is something we constantly fought for in St Petersburg (routines changed as quickly as the season's such was the lifestyle there!) but maybe our fierce routine is adding some challenges as well to life here....
Yesterday started as normal - Rachel home schooling Mia and I went with Anya to the local shop so that she could play in the play area, and I could finally get to do some editing on my book (this was the third attempt, which got me to the last chapter, and I managed to do that last chapter this morning with the same routine with Anya!).  Before going, I had prayed for appointments - of the Godly kind!  It is too easy to go through life and miss out on so much - my understanding is that if you pray, and then wonder if God would have you speak to that person you've noticed you've probably therefore already had your answer!  Go speak to them.
Sitting at my table, finishing up my typing, it was very obvious that just behind me were two retired British tourists.  They were looking at things on the map (getting rather lost by the sound of things) so packing up, I asked them if they needed help - the man's first words were "Your English is very good!" which was funny - we have noticed here that even among Estonians and Russians, it's always assumed that we are Estonian, before anything else.
What was really funny was that here in Tallinn, this couple who said they were from Derbyshire in the UK, sitting drinking a coffee in the cafe at Stockmann's, once they asked me what I did, it was great to point them to the only church contact I had off the top of my head, a church run, and extremely nice coffee shop in Derbyshire called The Source, which is in the town of Buxton.  Whether they ever go, I will no doubt never know - but it is funny to think that they might one day walk into that cafe, and say they heard about it from a guy in Tallinn.  They are not church goers, at the moment, but seeing as they like coffee shops it seemed a good intro!
Last night I went out for a drink with Leo - and this time the conversation really opened up a lot!  I could see some real depth in this friendship already.  It was starting from something as simple as national service that led to me briefly sharing the central truth of the gospel - that because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, I can be forgiven, saved and know for certain I'm going to heaven.  Can you see the link?  As an Israeli, he said how all men and women at 18 have to serve in the army - men for three years, women for two.  His sister is just about to join.  He said growing up, all mums tell their young boys that by the time they are old enough, there will be world peace - they want to believe that anyway, he said.  I then asked if there actually ever would be peace - does the Bible teach us that - and that maybe only in Heaven would we see perfect peace.  He had some interesting ideas about heaven - and even said maybe God has a different plan for me - until I stated that I know for sure I'm going to Heaven, and he then asked how I had this assurance.  Starting with the phrase 'the Bible is very clear on this' I shared how - his straight forward yet understanding response was just "Oh, I see".  Maybe he doesn't have such assurance of eternal life.  
We then talked very openly about Jesus - I had some very genuine questions about his understanding of the man, which as a historical figure, Leo doesn't deny - they just don't believe in him.  I want Leo to have that same level of assurance about life, and death, that I know.  Please pray for this couple as we get to know them more.
This afternoon I also met with Brett, the American we met on Sunday who heads up the ministry 'Serve The City'.  It was a very pleasant two hours and I shared a lot about New Frontiers and especially the foundations in church planting that come from the Apostolic and Prophetic.  We shared stories.  It was good to learn so much from him and understand in greater detail what they are planning on doing - he'll only be in Tallinn for another year, local's will take things on once he's moved.  He's going to Berlin to set things up there next.
Brett did mention a monthly Pastor's meeting, the last Wednesday of every month (which I therefore missed for March, being yesterday!) so that will further build relationships if I can make the next one or two.
Our Estonian started well on Tuesday night - we were due to have another tonight, so we'll see.  The main phrase we learnt was to ask 'how are you' to which the reply is 'Well, thanks'.  So here it is;  Kuidas sa elad? (Literally 'how do you live?') the reply being 'Tänan, Hästi'
Finally, continuing to look at what are the distinctives and essentials that will make up church-life here in Tallinn the second will be a place that unites the nations like only the church can.
Estonia has a difficult history - that has led to cultural differences between the native Estonians and the Russians.  It's got to be through the church that these two communities, divided by so much historical conflict, truly stand side by side, as brothers and sisters in Christ.  So as one of those churches in Tallinn, we too want to be a place that brings people together, not keeps them apart.  This has huge implications on how we do things and especially which language we use, and we can only reflect the team we have with us too, to some degree.  But at heart we want to be open for all people - whatever their background.  Because we know that there is a level of unity, a depth of love that is only found in Jesus - and we can't keep this truth, this wonderful mystery, to ourselves!
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