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.

So that you stay connected, getting every new update, please add your email address to receive all updates directly, or follow the RSS feed.

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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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tallinn Update - When the Baltic's gathered together

It started with an invitation for Maurice to come and visit us in Tallinn - and turned into the first Baltic's gathering of it's kind here in Estonia's capital!

Welcome to the Baltic's Gathering update....

Maurice Nightingale (pictured on the right of me in the photo below - yes, we gave him the Mr Darcy mug!!) works very closely with Mike Betts in the Relational Mission sphere of Newfrontiers.  Arnoud & Elisabeth, who moved here this summer to join the team, have strong links with Mike and Maurice, so when I first met Maurice in Riga back in May, and knowing at the time that Arnoud's family were moving to Tallinn, I wanted to invite him in order to have someone visit who knew them and could see them settling into their new context.
The work out here in this part of Europe is so new that, given the opportunity to meet together, people will travel miles to have input and encouragement for their situations - the nature of pioneer church planting in the Baltic region meaning being around others with the same heart and mind, from time to time, is really refreshing.
So we were aware, a month or so before this planned trip, that others too would be interested in coming and soon the invitations were flowing.  
In all, Maurice brought two other guys with him from the UK - John Putman, a local leader from another church plant setting in East Anglia, who has served for many years in other parts of Estonia and brought with him a great wisdom and gentle spirit.  With them was Gary Dean, a great guy that I actually know from my Sidcup days, so it was wonderful to hear he was coming, as it had been about 11 years since we'd last met each other.
Matt Medd came up from Riga on the Friday as well, as did David Jones, also travelling from Latvia, where he leads a church in Smiltene.
On Friday night we hosted these five guests for a meal at ours with both the church plant families together.
In planning this weekend, we felt that a Saturday lunchtime context, with some tea and cake, would be a great way of mixing other 'locals' in with these guys - and it was a joy to have Gabriel and Vanessa with us, a young couple who lead another local church here in Tallinn.  We have been getting to know them really well over the last six months and had spent a great day together earlier in the week as well.  They are pictured in the group photo on the right hand side.  Also joining us were Simon (the guy on the left in the above photo with Maurice and I) & Heloise, who came with their three children, his mother and his mothers friend, who had been over visiting them! They live in a small town in the very centre of Estonia called Võhma and lead a small church plant, having moved from England around nine years ago.  The group photo at the top (taken by Rachel who was therefore not in the shot!) shows quite a crowd!
On Saturday night we met to share together and to pray for one another, which really became encouraging as words and prophecies were brought.
On Sunday we were meeting as Hope:Tallinn, the core church plant group, though we also had a personal friend turn up from Finland who joined in the day's events.  Maurice brought us an encouragement from the word, reminding us of the 'Bigger Picture' as we set out and start to reach Tallinn.
Mixed around all that were walks and sightseeing together around Tallinn and it's historic Old Town.  It was a great blend of fun, friendship and food!
By Monday all had returned to their various homes and the dust is starting to settle on what was a very significant time.  It didn't start out as a Baltic's gathering but that is what it became.  And the thought is now birthed regarding a more regular event - drawing in yet others from nearby cities and countries, to encourage, strengthen, help and pray with those going through the same things we are in the most unreached region of Europe.

This was the first such event - Rachel and Elisabeth especially excelling themselves with all the cooking and hospitality they were able to show - but it will not be the last event.  God is on the move in the Baltics.  And we are just a small part of that....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Interview with...a Church Planter - 6 - Jonathan Meek, Spokane, Washington, USA

In this sixth entry to the church planting series, we hear from Jonathan Meek, musician and church planter into Spokane, Washington.  I met Jonathan last Autumn in Missoula, where he has been an elder for 14 years.  I had been travelling around the Northwest with Dave Henson and we spent a day in Missoula meeting Jonathan and Josh Yakos - I spoke that evening at their midweek youth gathering.

Hearing about his future plant, there was a lot of crossover with what we had come from in Russia.  That part of Washington state, and especially Spokane itself, is a very big Russian area - we even saw roadside adverts written in Russian!  And of course their timing is also similar in that they made the move in the same summer that things started here in Tallinn.

What Jonathan has to say is helpful, especially for those planting within their own country and culture, as well as those coming from long term 'full time' staff positions in an established church to go and start all over again!

Here is what he had to say:

When did you know you were called to be a church planter?
I began suspecting I was called to be a church planter when I was about 25 years old. My wife and I were a part of a great church-planting culture but it wasn't until my wife and I were driving through the city of Spokane, Washington about ten years ago that it seriously crossed my mind to actually lead a church planting team. It dawned on me that day that I really loved the city of Spokane enough to leave my job and move my family. The heart was there but the timing wasn't right. It's only now - ten years later - that we've just moved!

In New Frontiers, we talk about building on an Apostolic and Prophetic foundation - how has that been seen through your situation?
We waited because we strongly believe in apostolic and prophetic ministry being not only foundational but also an active part in our lives. It wasn't until the past three years that we felt a strong prophetic confirmation to make the move. Multiple prophetic words from apostolic men really shook us loose from the church in Missoula that I served for 14 years as a worship leader and elder. As soon as we began actually talking to other leaders about Spokane as a serious "when, not if" the overwhelming confirmation to go was just that - wonderfully overwhelming! The wise counsel from so many excellent leaders within our Newfrontiers family has been vital to making this a healthy and positive move for my family.

You've moved within the same country with your family - tell us what challenges you are facing and how you prepared for this move?
Though we haven't moved far - only a three hour drive from Missoula to Spokane - our children have spent their entire lives living in Missoula. Having a 14 year old just beginning high school, a 12 year old beginning middle school and a 9 year old starting 4th grade, the well-being and social adjustment for our kids has been at the forefront of our minds from day one. We took the kids on trips to Spokane over the past year to introduce them to cultural and sporting events in the city, visited other churches with them, visited local schools and parks, and spent as much time as we could getting to know about the area. Along the way we discovered that Spokane is a running city and we love to run! Our oldest two kids are now running cross country in their schools, which has helped them make friends. One of the cross country coaches is a part of our planting team, which has also helped with the transition. We (and others) have invested much prayer into simply asking God to go before us and show us ways to connect into the community, and to help our kids connect positively as well. We've only been here for 7 weeks but we are thanking God for a smooth transition! As we move forward we'll keep talking and praying with our children about how God has put them here on purpose to see their own friends and schools impacted with the gospel of Jesus Christ! Having the kids on board and really a part of the planting team (not just along with mom and dad) will be vital for their health.

What advantages does having financial support for at least the first year have in the life of a church plant?
We have limited financial support in place for our first year, which gives us a bit of breathing room without allowing us to be completely dependent on outside sources. Since we are planting within our own nation we are able to work, so both Becca and I are working. We felt that we wanted to build locally and rely on God establishing us within Spokane. (This model is more highly reproduceable as well.) I am certainly not opposed to outside support but am building with as much local support as we can. The downside to this model is that I spend much time focusing on my job and less time focusing on the church plant than I would like. However, God is giving both Becca and I excellent connections THROUGH our careers that we expect to result in changed lives!

How can someone pray for you and your church?
Please pray for excellent and ongoing connections for us that result in salvation coming to many families and fresh life breathed into the fabric of Spokane, Washington! Pray for great wisdom as we balance family life, business life and church planting. Pray for God to establish us into Spokane and for Grace Church Spokane to become a life-giving, church-planting, nation-impacting church!

Thanks for that Jonathan!

Jonathan is a part of Grace Church Spokane, Washington.

www.gracechurchspokane.org (not live yet)
Jon's blog: www.jonnydavids.blogspot.com
Twitter: Jonathan_Meek
Email: jmeek@gracechurchspokane.org

Series so far:
1 - The Hague, Netherlands
2 - Stockholm, Sweden
3 - Riga, Latvia
4 - Smiltene, Latvia

5 - Helsinki, Finland

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tallinn Update - the Whole Family edition...

Acts 16:31
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

I love family.  I love the family that God has put me in physically - my wife and daughters and the wider family connected with them.  I also love the family God has put me in spiritually - His church - around the world.  Many nationalities, many skin colours, yet all brothers and sisters in Christ.  I love the whole family set up.
And what is really exciting at the start of life here in Tallinn is the numbers of whole families, households, that are joining what is starting here or starting to come to events - it's great that God is helping us meet whole households as new friends here in Tallinn.
At the two international meals we've hosted at our flat as part of the gathering for Hope:Tallinn, each time we've seen husband and wife with children coming along and meeting other people that are already involved with us.

And our prayer is that, as quoted above from Acts, we see whole households coming to know the same love and acceptance that we have found in Jesus.  The same forgiveness of sins.  The same freedom from the fear of death, with absolute knowledge and confidence of eternal life to come.

 The battle is being fought for the souls of these dear people of Tallinn - living in the most secular and godless nation in Europe.  The Mormons are here, preaching a twisted truth.  Jehovah's witnesses are here looking for people to trap into law and working for salvation.  The simple message that Jesus has already done everything for us and we just need to accept his gift of life to us needs to be preached to set thousands of people free.  And it's to this end that we are here - the harvest field needs so many more workers - but we are here with others at least making a start.

Autumn is a really beautiful time of year in Tallinn.  We never really noticed Autumn too much in St Petersburg, largely because we couldn't see any trees from where we lived so didn't notice the leaves changing colour.  But we can't help but notice them here and it's great to really appreciate this time of year, even if it is about to usher in wintertime - I am really looking forward to being blown away by the beauty of wintertime in this part of Tallinn!  We know, having arrived in March, that the sea shown in these photos will be frozen, as it was still frozen when we first got to Tallinn.  So it'll be great to get to walk on water, just a little...

In the last update I mentioned about our first Vision Sunday which is happening once a month.  That was 8 days ago now, and the symbolism was encouraging.  The previous weekend I'd been in St Petersburg, meeting the crowds at Hope Church as I've talked about in that last post.  Four years ago that all started with 6 people.  So with just the three couples making it to this first vision Sunday (plus another 6 children) it was great to reflect how, with the same number of people four years previously, a vibrant church had since emerged in St Petersburg.  All God's doing, of course.  But great to think that we can see God do it again here in Tallinn!

So we are believing in God for a lot more to come!  We are believing for whole households to be saved.  We are believing for musicians and leaders and servers and welcomers and children's workers to come and join us and together reach this great city of Tallinn.  We are believing for a church that unites a broken and divided nation - for Estonians and Russians, as well as Latvians, Finns, Brits, Dutch and Americans to worship the same God, arm in arm, hand in hand, united in a way that no human ideas or initiatives can.  United as brothers and sisters of the same God, the only God - our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We are believing for the outbreak of healings and miracles.  We are believing for the prophetic to cut to the core of the coldest hearts.  We are believing for God to do all that God can do.

10,000 reasons - no, it's not reference to a song by Matt Redman, but the fact that this week should see the 10,000th viewer to posts on this blog, since I started tracking the stats.  That is so amazing and encouraging!  To know that people all around the world are reading and following this adventure with us.  For example, this last week has seen readers from the USA, UK, Estonia, Sweden, Netherlands, Latvia, France, Russia, Ukraine, Columbia, Hong Kong and Rwanda!  This post going out will also mark the 6000th view on this blog since we moved to Tallinn - which was just 7 months ago!  We are so encouraged by this and every comment, reply, email or call - knowing we are not alone in this adventure, but together through your prayers, with thousands around the world.

Please keep praying for us as we continue to face challenges in a few areas that we await God's wisdom and clarity on, but continue to walk through all the doors that God has opened for us.

Next up on this blog I continue with the Church Planter series featuring our first entry from a church planter in the USA...

Friday, October 5, 2012

An Interview with...a Church Planter - 5 - Kevin Jones, Helsinki, Finland

In the latest update, in this encouraging and inspiring series, we hear from Kevin Jones, who is preparing to move to Helsinki, Finland, with his family next year.

I first met this wonderful family maybe three years ago whilst back in the UK one summer.  Having ourselves moved to St Petersburg, it was here that God had spoken about the nearby Baltic capitals over the St Petersburg church plant - Helsinki and Tallinn were the two cities named.  Clearly Hope Church's outworking of this has been quite different - with us now moved to Tallinn personally, and relationally encouraging these guys looking into Helsinki, as a near neighbour (and even nearer now we are personally in Tallinn!).  So it was due to that word over Hope Church, as well on the back of the relationship Lydia Jones had with our friends Dave and Hannah (having been in the same church in Loughborough, UK) that I started meeting up with this family to help if I could and encourage their faith for what was ahead.  It was great this summer to have Kevin come over to Tallinn for a day from Helsinki, where they spent the month of August getting a real feel for the place.  Once planted, at just 50 miles north of Tallinn, Helsinki will be the nearest other Newfrontiers city church plant to us (once you get across the sea!).

As they are still in the process of going, his answers offer a real window into how it feels ahead of such an exciting, yet big, move.  So this is what he said:

Tell us a little about the city you are moving to?

Helsinki is the capital of Finland. The city itself has a population of around 600,000 but as populations increase, the areas to the North, east and west of the city are now merging together to form one much larger municipal area combining to form the worlds most northern urban area of over one million people. One in five Finns live in this area. Helsinki is strategically placed 80 kilometers (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 kilometers (250 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300 kilometers (190 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki has close historical connections with these three cities. The architecture seems to reflect this with a mix of Scandinavian and Russian influence evident as you explore.
Helsinki has a diverse and cosmopolitan atmosphere and is similar to most other European capital cities. The city is well organized, clean and safe to walk around and explore. In 2009, Helsinki was chosen to be the World Design Capital for 2012 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, narrowly beating Eindhoven for the title. In the Economist Intelligence Unit's August 2012 Livability survey, assessing the best and worst cities to live in, Helsinki was placed 8th overall.
Helsinki has a humid continental climate due to the influence of the Baltic Sea and Gulf Stream. Temperatures in winter are much higher than the far northern location might suggest, with the average in January and February around −5 °C. Temperatures below −20 °C occur normally a week or two in a year. Because of the latitude, days last less than six hours around the winter solstice but, Helsinki enjoys long days in summer [19 hours around the summer solstice].

Some people might look at church planting and feel they have no idea what to do - what would you say to help them?

I feel that generally to a point it is ok to not know what to do. It is better to be humble and sensitive to the situation you are going in to in this sense than to be an expert who is very rigid on how to do church regardless of the cultural context.  I think that one of the best things to do to help on this is to get relationally connected with those who are doing stuff you like and you relate to. Allow others to speak in to your life and open yourself up to learning from them.
Go along to prayer days for nations/regions you are interested in to meet others and catch the heart of what God is doing in these situations. Visit others who are already doing what you would like to one day do. Perhaps depending on your circumstance [career, family etc.] offer to serve them in some way – give a year to living and working in a city where someone you can relate to is currently pioneering something. Keep regularly in touch with others doing similar stuff.  Talk to your current church leaders about your dreams and ask what you can do now to help you develop according to your calling. Get stuck in now in your local setting and don’t look too far ahead that you don’t ever live in the now – bless the city you are in!

How old were you when you planted your first church?

I have never planted a church as the plant leader, but was in my late 20s when I was part of a leadership team which planted into Broadstairs in Kent. Helsinki is the next big step for us.
One key thing I did learn at Broadstairs is that Church planting is perhaps more of a mindset than just the event of starting the church. I feel if you are a church planter you are always a church planter – you don’t just get the thing going, you see it as a process, you go on planting the church even after it’s been going for a while you are still planting it. That conviction continues whether you then plant again or whether you remain in the same context for 5/10 years or more – and feeds the DNA of the church to then become a planting and sending church.

Thinking about a future move, what concerns do you have at this moment?

Many of the main concerns are the ones we all often face such as finances, grasping a new language, keeping momentum going [in our situation we are still living in the UK and not yet in Helsinki where we will be planting] from almost the other side of Europe – whilst holding down a demanding job, busy family life etc…
Children adjusting. All of us moving away from friends and family in to what could be a more isolated situation.

And what language are you doing your gatherings in?

Language is an interesting topic at the moment. My heart is to gather in the native Finnish language for obvious reasons [not just wanting to attract ex-pats, not wanting to seem as if we a just a bunch of foreign missionaries moving in, wanting to demonstrate a strong commitment to serve the nation etc..]  But practically Finnish is a very difficult language and we need to temper our desires to be authentic in the expression of our desires to be a church for Finland with the reality that to gather in Finnish alone would severely restrict the depth and fullness of communication and expression possible for us. It could be that some sort of mix [some Finnish some English] would initially be best – and also may serve the international nature of Helsinki as a city more effectively.

In New Frontiers, we talk about building on an Apostolic and Prophetic foundation - how has that been seen through your situation?

Prophetic words specific to us and ones in scripture about the increase of Christ's rule and the promises about God's people being a blessing to the nations etc. really got our attention in the beginning and have been a source of encouragement and direction throughout – We are so grateful though that as well as this we have the privilege of belonging to an apostolic movement of churches where it is so easy to draw relationally alongside others who can serve us. For us relationships [mainly through the Relational Mission sphere within Newfrontiers] have been a great source of confirmation as we have moved forwards on this journey. It has been wonderful to sense God calling us to Scandinavia and Finland – but also to discover that others involved in this region and offering to support us are such brilliant people who we really hit it off with, share a connection with and who’s hearts are so for us.  It is great to experience the apostolic not as a structured, hierarchical thing but as a set of vital, dynamic relationships that we really want to be part of and benefit from.  For us this a fundamental aspect which has served us so well in helping us step out in what God has been saying to us. It’s brilliant!

Calling verses Gifting - where do you stand?

To church plant into a different culture and go through all of the highs and lows that you may encounter, it is so important to know that you are called. There will come times when it will be difficult and discouraging. But when this happens our calling sets the perspective that these issues are God’s problem!  I didn’t choose myself to do this he did – so he needs to sort something out and enable a breakthrough! 
Calling is so important. God is interested in gifting too – we see this through scripture, but it is important to make the distinction between gifting [i.e. the gift is from God] and self-sufficiency [i.e. I’m skilled enough to do it on my own]. My experience is that God delights in giving gifts to his church and it is often against the odds and against our natural disposition as individuals. In Ephesians we read about the risen Christ giving gifts to his church, so it’s good to have gifting and excel in the things God has given us but in the context of humility and acknowledgement of the giver.  What I’m desperately fumbling around to try to say[!] is that God will equip us to do what he has called us to do. We should recognize a close relationship between calling and gifting. Paul says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I think - not meaning I can do anything and everything, but Christ can strengthen me to do everything he is calling me into regardless of how skilled or proficient I feel about it.

What is the role of internationals (ie non natives) in the life of a new church plant?

For us this is important at the moment as we are still in the UK so many of the core group people we are working with are also currently with us in the UK, as are the majority of the apostolic relationships who are either based in the UK or originally from the UK . This is useful at the moment as we are around people we get and who get us.  This is also important in our current situation as we will be moving into a church culture, which has not been particularly influenced by Newfrontiers. This means that the sorts of folk we will be looking to for support and guidance as we seek to bring New Testament church foundations to Helsinki will generally be non-Finnish UK or ex-UK based folk. This is not a preference to only work with those from the UK, but just the way it is at the moment.
The native Finns we have been relating to have been so useful and have given us a greater insight and helped many new doors to open for us. We are so grateful for them and hope that these relationships will continue to flourish when we arrive in Finland.

Can people still move to join you?

Yes please! We are still very much at the gathering and team building stage so we’re open to building relationship with anyone who is sensing a similar call and wants to explore this further. 

How can someone pray for you and your church?

Please pray!
• Pray for relationships as we interact with others who hear about us and try to consolidate the core group.
• Pray for financial provision to help get us out to Helsinki in the first instance, that we might even have some support for a block of time to focus on language learning, getting settled in to the culture and life there and have time to focus on gathering the team. Also for jobs at the right time.
• Pray that in the coming 10 months that things will continue to move forwards and that the momentum keeps going despite not being in Helsinki and having busy work demands etc.
• Pray for Gods protection and blessing over us as a family [especially our three children], as we go through great change and transition.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone feeling called to plant a church somewhere?

Obviously seek God and build your life on him, submit to him and to the authority of your leaders.
Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships in helping you step in to what God has prepared for you. This is so vital so take opportunities to communicate what is on your heart to others, doors may open as a result. God opens the doors for us, but it is also good to be intentional and proactive at putting ourselves in the right situations and contexts to help this happen.

Thank you so much Kevin for this really helpful insight!

Kevin is part of the future Newfrontiers church plant into Helsinki, Finland.

Contact Information:

Email: kjones@ucreative.ac.uk
UK telephone: 07813789318
Twitter: @Kevin_J_Jones

Series so far:

1 - The Hague, Netherlands
2 - Stockholm, Sweden
3 - Riga, Latvia
4 - Smiltene, Latvia

Monday, October 1, 2012

An Interview with...a Church Planter - 4 - David Jones, Smiltene, Latvia

In the last two posts I've shared news from Capital cities that border the Baltic sea.  In fact all three entries so far have been big, bustling cities.  They've also all been started in the last few years, if that.  

This time we are staying in the Baltics, but hearing from David, who is in a small town called Smiltene, which is in Latvia.  It's also moved on from the church plant phase and is already a church in its own right.

I first spoke with David through Skype from our then home in Russia.  In the last six months I've had the pleasure of meeting him in person, both in central and southern Estonia and also once in Riga.

So this is what David had to say;

Tell us a little about the city you meet in? 
Smiltene is a small town of 6,000 in a rural community serving probably an additional 3,000. Smiltene is something of an economic oasis in an area which is generally struggling economically. Christianity is dominated by religion and legalism with particular emphasis on Lutheranism.

Some people might look at church planting and feel they have no idea what to do - what would you say to help them? 
There are many good opportunities to investigate, especially within Newfrontiers. Go visit a church plant in another country for your summer holiday. Hangout with church planting types. Chat to your church leadership team and local apostle. You can successfully spend several years gain experience and seeking God about your future potential church planting call. Nynke from Holland came to us twice for a couple of weeks, using her annual leave from her work. Then for five months (unpaid leave) before deciding to move out here. Ilze and I spent a short week with her church and leadership team in Holland.

Called to just church plant, or called to a specific city - or both? And does it matter? 
I think it does matter.  You need to know your calling. If it is to church planting in general, that is no problem. If it is to a specific geographical location, nation, people group then that too is important to know. The call will vary with different individuals.

How old were you when you planted your first church? 
Thirty eight. 

Are you finished yet? 

If you have planted into another culture and language, talk through some of the issues and experiences you've come across so far? 
Personally for me;
• Language. I am / was(?) too afraid to make mistakes and thus, was very diligent at cracking trying to use what I had learnt. So, it took several years for me to get into the ‘snowball effect’, i.e. the more you use what you have, the more you learn. The more you learn the more you use what you have.
• Culture. Not adapting to Latvian culture but, not wanting to simply import British Christianity or indeed, even simply Newfrontiers churchianity.
• Religion and legalism. They love over here. Sadly, after The Wall came down the churches (in general) didn’t particularly embrace the new found freedom. Many are still very legalistic. Anything not Lutheran or Catholic is still treated with some suspicion. Pentecostalism is still considered a ‘new’ religion. So, what hope for charismatic who have only been around a few decades? Not being ordained, not having a ‘real’ building etc all cause lots of people a real problem out here. Those battles were fought in the UK in the 60’s and 70’s. In real terms those battles are still only just being started out here.

And what language are you doing your gatherings in?
Our church is a Latvian speaking church. However, I do still preach via a translator.

In Newfrontiers, we talk about building on an Apostolic and Prophetic foundation - how has that been seen through your situation?
We have strong links with Mike Betts out of Lowestoft who is apostolic and Keith Hazel a recognised prophet. Both have visited us here in Smiltene. Mike will revisit occasionally but in general now the ‘hands-on’ work is via Norman Blows in Bury St. Eds.

Calling verses Gifting - where do you stand? 
I think both are important but, in the end if you know you are called you will have the resilience and determination to see it through the tough times. Gifitng is important but, you can play to your gifts and gather / hire in others to cover the areas you are not so strong on. You can learn a lot too. You can’t hire in or learn calling.

What is the role of internationals (ie non natives) in the life of a new church plant? 
It can be very helpful and also a hindrance.
Helpful in that you may have people who think like you and have similar values.  Hindrance in that locals may end up looking to / deferring too the people from ‘the west’.  When we were in Bindure in Zimbabwe Piet Drayer had two Sunday services in the same building. A mixed one and a blacks only one. It was the only way he could find to get black Zimbabweans to run Sunday meetings without simply deferring by default to whites. It can be a bit like that here between Latvians and westerners.

What challenges have you had to over come? 
Language. Suspicion. Passivity amongst local men. Endemic dishonesty.

What challenges remain? 
Language. Raising up men to take initiative and to help move them into positions of authority. Huge problem in former Soviet Union with passivity amongst men.

Can people still move to join you? 

How can someone pray for you and your church?
• To make real inroads into the adult male community
• Strong leadership team of Latvian men to be built
• Home / midweek groups hosted and run by Latvian church members

Do you need a team to go church planting? 
Yes, I think you do. We built one with locals once we were here. I would say that the ‘gathering’ stage is crucial.

Is outside financial support vital for church planting? 
Vital no! But it really helps and takes off some of the strain of the first year when things are small, struggling and (in a different culture/nation) busy with language and cultural issues.

What other ways are there that you've come across?
Being in a small town in a poor (relatively speaking for Europe) country, we have had to have some outside financial support for larger projects. E.G. Alpha courses, distribution of food and clothing to the community.

What advantages does having financial support for at least the first year have in the life of a church plant?
It really helps to take off a lot of the pressure especially in the first year in a different country when language and cultural issues are having to be dealt with.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone feeling called to plant a church somewhere? 
Know that you know that you know that you are called.

Thank you so much for sharing this David.

David is part of The Father's House, in Smiltene, Latvia.

Contact information:

Tel. 00 371 64772905
Mob. 00 371 29828937
Email: dij@apollo.lv
Church website: http://draudzetevamajas.lv/en

Series so far:

1 - The Hague, Netherlands
2 - Stockholm, Sweden
3 - Riga, Latvia