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, April 14, 2012

News From Tallinn - Early Days...

This was a short 3 minute clip I put together to show a little of Tallinn, and to raise awareness of the challenges there is for the church in Estonia.  Tell me what you think of it when you've watched it!

It's been a busy few days since we last updated you and some quite huge things have happened.  I met with all three banks this last week, and they are all now processing our application, which we should hear about this coming week - please pray for favour from all, that all three would offer something and that at least one of them would be what we were really asking for - which is to borrow the full amount we need.  What was really interesting and again highlighted the lack of general foundation about God and church in many people here, was that in both meetings on Wednesday, I was asked what a Pastor 'did' - and how I was going to plant a church.  One lady asked why people in England give money to us, so asking what she knew about the Christian faith, to which she said 'a little' I stated how the Bible calls us to reach our own area as well as the world.  I said how this was called 'mission' and that these churches and individuals were wanting to partner with us and help us reach new places, so that though they can't personally move, they can be involved.  And she just sat there and said 'oh yes, I see now'.  Amazing!  It looked less like a mortgage appointment and more like a church planting interview!  May God open up more conversations like that!

I also met with another local pastor here on Wednesday - Gabriel - which had been arranged the week before.  He's from LA but leads an Estonian church very near to our flat, and his heart is the same as ours - he's very mission minded!  We'll meet up with them this following week and look forward to getting to know each other more down the years.
The really funny thing was (God thing really!) was that on the day we found out that our new apartment would be ready on 1st May, therefore two months earlier than thought, we started to wonder what options we had on this rented flat, having signed the contract until the end of July.  It seemed, if we were to be fully moved over by mid-June, that we would have a month and a half to have to pay for the rent of this flat.  Rachel had called Brenda, our agent friend, to check, and she then suggested that if she could line up a replacement, then there would be no problems with us leaving early.  And she had a couple in mind....they were a young American couple, leaders from a local church....yes, it was Gabriel and his wife.  So 2 hours before I met him in a city centre cafe (I was at the bank at the time) they were at our flat, looking around - and they really liked it and will move in whenever we are ready!  So praise God - we have instant replacements sorted, and though there will be a little overlap with our new apartment, it won't be that much!

Elena from Hope Church came to Tallinn on Thursday, and we've been showing her around, while helping her find work - we've been looking into kindergarten's, but it seems that the summer is the time when jobs become available - no one is recruiting now, when there are less than two months of school time left.  Maybe the private ones are different, we are yet to find out.  Please pray that her time here is productive.
It was while taking her to see one option on Thursday that we had another funny 'bumping into' someone.  We were at the Rocca al Mare shopping centre, which we are fast growing to really enjoy (there is an M&S Food outlet at reasonable prices!) and I had Mia and Anya with me.  We were just walking around, having come from M&S and a guy stopped me - he was holding out some cosmetic products (I knew he was trying to demonstrate something with the salt in my hands) and I said I was OK - I said I knew some people who did this (thinking of Leo & Shani), yet I didn't recognise these products as the same business, though they were.  After talking for a moment, and unnoticed by me at the time, Shani looks up from the bench nearby and say's hi.  This WAS there outlet in this shopping centre.
I chatted with the guy (he's Estonian) and shared our 'excitement' at finding peanut butter at M&S - he didn't know what it was and asked if I could show him.  Glancing at Shani and checking it was OK, I walked and talked with him to the shop and showed him what it was.  He asked why we were here, and seemed really interested.  Having bought the peanut butter, he got a plastic spoon and proceeded to open it and take a spoonful, even though I was saying that it's best on toast!  He enjoyed the stuff greatly, and thanked me for 'bringing peanut butter in to his life'.  Seriously!
He said he could see an 'energy' in me.  I trust that's a good thing.  He took my details and wants to keep in touch - so we'll see what develops there.  But it just goes to show - God can open up any situation, even excitement about peanut butter at M&S that leads to contact and friendships and....who knows.
But maybe the craziest thing we'd heard came to light on Thursday.
I was on the computer and an instant message came through from a girl in Washington DC.  We'd met Chelsea three years back in Russia and had been in regular contact since.  She now works in a good government role and told us on Friday how she'd been at a conference on Cyber Security and the main speaker was the President of Estonia (another insight into how advanced this nation is in this regard!).  She got to speak to him after, and her message to us was how she'd told him about her good friends the Heath's and how we live in Tallinn now.  So the President of Estonia knows about us living in his country!  It made us laugh a lot!
He's apparently known for inviting people into his house from the streets, so maybe we will bump into him when at Kadriorg Park (which is where his house is, only about a mile from where we live now).  And if we do meet him, we can tell him about our DC friend, and invite him to church in Tallinn....
On Friday evening we had a big call to make of our own.  As many of you know we are selling our UK house.  And the firm putting it on the market for us also gave a cash offer to buy it from us - obviously a lot lower than market value.  We'd asked them to do this and their figure was much less - nearly 40% less than it's value in 2008 when we first moved away.
Our tenants move out on Monday and as Friday came around, we had this real sense that we should just accept this offer, if nothing more came to light, and move on.  Though low, it does just about give us what we need for now.  We also don't like the idea of the house being empty for too long where it is - firstly we have expenses on it, but also it runs a risk of vandalism.
So at 3pm UK time yesterday, I called them and said that we accept their offer.  Once they do an inventory, I think it is just a case of them informing the solicitors and then in 4 to 6 weeks, it should all be done.
So please pray that this process is smooth!

So things continue to move on fast - next week we'll hear from banks, as well as Tim travelling south to meet with some other pastors and church planters.

And we'll update you with the best bits of what happens soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

News from Tallinn - The Early Days of the Church Plant

As God continues to unwrap things for us in Tallinn, it's exciting to see how things are developing.  We naturally compare things to the early days in St Petersburg, as our only previous experience of arriving in a new country, with a new language and culture, and starting to church plant.
One thing that has stood out here is this time, in some areas, how fast things are going.  Some of this is down to the practical differences, I'm sure.  In St Pete's it was our first time in the city - we needed to learn the city (which is a large place to learn!) and then find somewhere to live - our things then arriving a month after we moved in, so much so that we'd been in Russia 5 weeks before we had any real furniture in our flat - effectively camping out for a month in what was a very expensive tent!  In Tallinn we already had somewhere to move straight into, going the short distance from the airport and then into our new rental apartment.  And because it was mainly furnished, even though our furniture took about two weeks to arrive, we could live straight away.  And because we had visited the city several times before, we knew the city (which is a lot smaller) and also knew some people.
So we kind of hit the ground running, while still dealing with the transition and adjusting our daughters to living in a very different way.
And that 'hit the ground running' kind of feeling has been a theme - we are now about 6 weeks into time in Estonia and what we've been involved in already has been a surprise and joy.
We've got to know two churches - sharing at one already, preaching at the other.  That was my first ever preach in Estonia and will be followed by three more over the next 6 weeks as they want me to finish the series I started on the book of Ruth.  We've also met with others Pastors and this week I met with another.
This week we would have fed our 11th person as well as having already gone somewhere as guests for dinner.
In the next two months I will travel a bit as well - next week to central Estonia where there is a relational group meeting of like minded men and women.  It's the first time I've met most of them so that should be a good time.  In May I also will travel to Riga for a conference and then after that, to a city at the bottom of Estonia on the Latvian border, where they've asked me to help out at their Alpha Holy Spirit day, taking some of the teaching and helping in the ministry time after.
At the end of April I will also go to the monthly Tallinn Pastor's meeting, and build relationships there, I hope.
Now lots of this did open up in Russia in time, just not so quickly, so it is exciting to see what will come of this 'fast' start.
Due to visa reasons, I didn't actually preach anywhere other than in Hope Church while in Russia.  So maybe it's partly the freedom of life here, back in the EU, that has opened things up more for us?
When we arrived in St Pete's, joining Dave and Hannah, that did give a team from the start, with the two families.  We were quickly joined within two months by Nadia and Johanna, so by the end of the second month in Russia, we had a team of 6.
That isn't going to be the case here by the end of April.  Back then those 6 were the only 6 people we knew, and that was just starting, because we didn't actually know each other before arriving, so the first 6 months was spent getting to know one another and our surroundings.
So we don't have anyone on the ground with us here, yet!  But this last month there has been a family 'wondering' about joining us, for which we are praying they do!  And this week a girl from Hope Church is visiting us, having already told us she feels called to join us in Tallinn.  
So maybe by the summer we will have a group of at least 5 adults together - the starting of a team. And that would be just great!
We of course share this to give glory to God.  As I've said many times, when we look at ourselves, we think there is no way God can use us, no way that he could work through us - because we see all our weaknesses and know that there are others that he could really use - but as for us, no chance.
The Bible is so true when it says that he takes things that aren't to display his glory - that he uses the foolish things to shame the wise.  I don't know who the wise are, but when I try and think it all through - learning another language when I'm still trying to figure out Russian, seeing a team come together, facing the challenges that are coming up, starting a church, buying a car - I feel so foolish in it all and wonder if God really has the right man here.
That said, there is no place in the whole world that I'd rather be.  Better that I be a foolish man around the plans and purposes of God than in a place I seem wise, but God isn't with me nor has he called me to be there.
And I do see that God is growing me - he's growing us all in what we are seeing.  In the 4 years since leaving the UK, I've changed in more ways than just 4 years of growth could do.  God is about a great work in us all, and I don't want to miss out on anything that he personally has in store for me - and I encourage you to not miss out either for your life.
As for what has happened in April, to fill those of you in who've been following developments through March, we have been trying to keep to the routine this last week, with Mia's home schooling and such.  We invited Leo and Shani around on Thursday night for food - they were starting Passover the following day.  It was an interesting time.  Mia and Anya didn't settle at all and therefore it was a very disturbed time.  Being here in Tallinn for very different reasons, what was hard was how negative they were about things here and the people - we were defending life here.  We are so grateful that Jesus is helping us to love those around us, so that we can move to a new nation for God and feel this heart connect that doesn't come from another calling in life - be it business or any other reason.
On Wednesday night I spoke, as mentioned above, at one church from the first chapter of Ruth - telling the great story.  It was a very encouraging first preach in Estonia, helped hugely by the great interpreter I had working with me.  I watched the video recording of it last night with Rachel and was actually encouraged by it, getting a few prompters as to what to do differently next time (usually involving not moving my hands so much and staying still a little more!)
And Sunday was Easter in Estonia, as we are now back on the Western calendar.
This week I am meeting with three banks and asking about a home loan - one was earlier today and two on Wednesday.  Please pray for great favour and that we'd get the outcome we are praying for.  We need God to work for us in this.  I'm also meeting with another pastor for the first time on Wednesday, and we have another Estonian lady around for dinner on Tuesday night.
We also really need prayer for break through with our UK house situation - we'd love there to be a buyer that we hear of this month - the time is coming when we need to make some big decisions.  So please pray favour upon favour on us all this month and especially this week with these three meetings at the banks.
Thanks for reading - until next time!

Or so I thought this was the end of the entry for today - after writing this I went to the SEB bank here in Tallinn - the overall news was quite good - he seemed to suggest that we could get ALL the money we needed for the apartment, but I was to complete the online application and they'd look at things from there.  The only issue appeared to be that though we have our Estonian 5 year ID cards, that still makes them only temporary - and they need permanent residency status for us - there are two options, the simplest being we apply now for permanent residency.....at least this morning we thought we had time...
Because arriving home from the bank and checking email, there were two very interesting emails awaiting me.
The first was a car dealership here with a quotation for a car we'd seen last week - we are still praying about the way through for this - but the next email stopped me in my tracks.
It was from the developer of our new apartment, saying that progress was going really well and that it will be ready on 1st May!  A whole two months early!  Oh wow.  
What is comforting is that this week I'd arranged, I thought randomly, to meet these three banks.  Yet God knew all about this.  Now the timing of these meetings is crucial.  We have less than a month to sort out this home loan, which we are told is possible to do well within this time.
We do have the issue of our rental flat - we signed the contract until the end of July, thinking that we'd only be taking the new apartment from that month, and not in May.  We are hoping that, assuming we don't need it in July, we will be able to get out of the contract early.  There does seem an option here already.
I'll spare you the details about what the banks were each saying up to now - just to say please pray!
So it's going to be a roller-coaster month - and I'm still praying we can get this car soon as well now, especially if we are going to be living a little further out, and sooner than we thought yesterday.
There's never a dull moment.  We are doing well in it all, I think.  Do pray that it all comes together.  We do see God totally knew what he was doing when directing us to come here earlier than previously planned.  Can you imagine if we'd still been in Russia today and got that same email - that from 1st May the flat would be ready and we'd need to be here to sort everything out.  It would have been so much harder in that case.
So, confident God has this all within his care for a long time now already, we'll push all the doors these coming weeks, and some way, some how, find the right way through it all.
It's very exciting to think that in the next two months, we could be in our new apartment already (with another beautiful rental flat sitting empty in the middle of Tallinn as well....)  We'll keep you posted and we appreciate every single prayer so much!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Tallinn Church Plant - Story of the first month

The story of our first month in Tallinn - a series I called 'Breaking New Ground', as I wanted to record the journey of our first month as we look to get started with life in Tallinn, who we met and what we had to get sorted in order to register our arrival - plus a whole lot more, as it turned out!
Below in the BNG links you will find each entry that takes us through the first month.  Below that is a link to the story behind our arrival, looking at the journey and how God got us this far - the first is titled 'Where is Tallinn?' as this is also something many of you might be asking if you've just come across this blog for the first time.

Breaking New Ground - March 2012
BNG - 5 - The First Week
BNG - 10 - Two Week's In
BNG - 13
BNG - 14
BNG - 15 - 25 Days Later
BNG - 16
BNG - 17
BNG - 18 - End of the First Month

Yesterday we spent the afternoon with our new friends here, leaders of another local church, at their home in Viimsi, which is north of Tallinn - here we tried the traditional Estonian swings!  You stand up to make them go faster - we are told that the locals get it so that they are basically horizontal at the top of the swing!

The Story of Our Journey To Tallinn

We were sent from our wonderful base Hope Church in St Petersburg to plant a new church into Tallinn.  I detailed that transition and how God had first called us in a mini series called Towards Tallinn - and here is that series;
Part 1 - Where is Tallinn?
Part 2 - He's Got Us This Far
Part 3 - A Storm Is Coming
Part 4 - Are You Up For A Challenge

The Original Journey to Russia - Adventures of Faith Series

Four years before moving to Tallinn, we were well on our way to moving to St Petersburg, where we were to join Dave & Hannah Henson at the start of what would become Hope Church.  And at that time, in a series called Adventures of Faith, I covered the whole process, from God first speaking to us, through to the challenges, then leaving the UK, our first insights into life in Russia and then finally after living there for a year and the last one after three years.  So to complete this blog entry, below are links to all these posts, which I hope, along with what's been shared above, will encourage you that you too can go and plant - whether it be the next city or another nation.  God bless you!  And may God go with you!

Part 1 - The Build Up
Part 2 - The Six Month Countdown
Part 3 - The Going
Part 4 - First Impressions
Part 5 - One Year On
Part 6 - Three Years In

Tim & Rachel Heath
Tallinn church plant (a part of New Frontiers and plant from Hope Church in St Petersburg, Russia).