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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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Christmas Greetings to You

We hope you have had a wonderful 2012!

Thanks for all your care, encouragement and support this year.

Rich blessings to you all

Love Tim, Rachel, Mia and Anya x

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Interview with...A Church Planter - 7 - Tallinn, Estonia - Series Conclusion

What's been great in hearing back from guys planting churches into The Hague, Stockholm, Riga, Smiltene, Helsinki and Spokane, in the USA, is that there is so much overlap in what they are all saying.

In bringing this series to a close now with my own input from having planted into St Petersburg, Russia, and now starting again in Tallinn, Estonia, I'd also like to draw together the common held views and hopefully further encourage you along these lines.  Because, having read what has already been shared by these great guys in these six other nations, I am certainly encouraged by their words.

This series has been a very popular series indeed.  It leads me on to mention the next series, where again we will hear from other men and women, looking at the subject "How God Speaks to Us" - I'm sure it will be fascinating to read!

So here are my answers to a few of the same questions I've asked the guys in this series:

Some people might look at church planting and feel they have no idea what to do - what would you say to help them?
This is the reason I wrote this series - looking at the question 'What actually IS church planting?' Do any of us really know what to do?  We helped plant Hope Church St Petersburg, which launched in 2009.  Moving to plant into Tallinn in 2012, it doesn't mean we know how to do it here - we need to learn all over again.  So I would say, don't focus on getting to 'know how to church plant' but instead focus 100% on 'getting to know God' and I assure you, the church planting bit will flow easily!

Called to just church plant, or called to a specific city - or both?  And does it matter?
Obviously if you know the city you are called to, it helps a lot.  For instance, is a new language or culture involved?  That changes things.  Can someone be called to church planting in general - yes, absolutely.  I've met lots of people like that.  But at some point God needs to speak (through all the ways He does - and let's see how that is in the new series coming soon!) with the specifics of the city you are to plant into.  So if God has not yet given you the specific location, then I suggest you wait in the place you are in until that is clear.

Calling verses Gifting - where do you stand?
For me, it's got to be calling.  Especially from a cross cultural perspective (which is my only experience).  To go somewhere that's very different to your own background, you have to know you are called when the hard days come (as they will).
When planting into your own culture, gifting will get you so far, but I would still say calling is also vital.

If you have planted into another culture & language, talk through some of the issues and experiences you've come across so far?
It's been a huge honour to have lived in the different places we've lived these last four plus years.  With this also comes testing, faith and responsibility.  
All of our personal experiences are found recorded on the pages of this blog so I won't repeat myself here. What I will say is this; in the modern world, nearly anyone can live anywhere in the world and feel happy and secure on a good day - it's when the issues come and problems arise that makes living in a new culture so much harder.  It doesn't matter how simple the issue, until you learn what to do and who to contact, it's at these times that you feel most alone and vulnerable.

What challenges have you had to over come?
I've definitely covered these in some detail already in older posts, but it's amazing how quickly you move on.  We had huge issues getting what we needed in place for us to own the home we were trying to get.  Some of that came out of not knowing the system, but much, as I understand now, came from a cultural misunderstanding which meant I wasn't asking the right kinds of questions, and I wasn't being told the right answers because for them, at the time, it didn't matter what the answer was, there was nothing to act upon, so they agreed with what I was saying.  It's when they actually had to do something about it that the banks told me what they really thought!

What challenges remain?
The Estonian language is a hugely difficult language to learn, so there is a challenge there.  The fact that, as a non-linguist, I'm now learning my third language, it makes me smile at what is possible with God - all things!
For many reasons, Estonia is a divided nation on ethical lines between Estonians and Russians. To plant a church that reflects the city of Tallinn, bring unity to a divided nation, is going to be a huge challenge.  With very different languages and personalities, we need to find God's way through in what we go onto do.

Can people still move to join you?
Absolutely!  We are at the exciting pre-launch phase. We've seen some team coming together but for us to truly reach our vision here in Tallinn we need others, called of God to be in Tallinn, to join us and together help us plant this church.

How can someone pray for you and your church?
Pray all sorts of prayer for every occasion!  As the most secular nation in Europe, Estonia needs God's powerful hand of breakthrough.  Tallinn represents a third of the whole population of Estonia - if Tallinn gets a new heart then so does the nation.
We need to see vast numbers of people saved.

Do you need a team to go church planting?
I love team.  While I agree you don't need a team to move to church plant, I would say that you can't start the church plant phase without a team.
It was an honour to be part of such a great team in St Petersburg, and when our time came to move to plant into Tallinn, while we went alone, the value of team was there.  We knew of someone from Russia wanting to join us, but they'll need a visa for here and that has still yet to sort itself out.
As team was such a high value we had, we didn't start doing anything in the city regarding our own church plant until Arnoud & Elisabeth had moved to join us during the summer.

What challenges do you face with raising children in a 'foreign' setting?
What might be a challenge is also an amazing opportunity.  If you can see through language learning issues and culture adjustment, raising your children bilingual (or tri-lingual in our case) is an amazing honour.
We of course have no way of knowing how our kids would have been growing up in our own background. What they do have ahead of them is a rich, multicultural understanding and experience, which I hope is all the better for them.
Personally, with Mia, I think we've got her into a better schooling system than we ever could have had access to living where we did in the UK.  For that, and so many other things, we feel blessed.

Is outside financial support vital for church planting?  What other ways are there that you've come across? What advantages does having financial support for at least the first year have in the life of a church plant?
I'll answer these together.  In the UK I have always worked in business (I mean, I was never paid as a full-time church leader).  Moving to Russia, and now Estonia, the issue with all my experience and ability (as good, or bad, as that might be) is that it largely doesn't matter - without language you are rather unemployable.  In fact, my English language became more valuable in the fact that I could teach - something I had no desire or passion to do in the UK!
The point is, things change when you move countries.  What outside financial support offers is time.  This is the most valuable thing we have and it allows us to learn some language and build relational links into the city - links that will lead to church plant growth - the very reason we are here in the first place!
Church planting into a new culture has huge pressures - so to have the financial issues removed by outside support, while things are getting off the ground, is a huge help.
Finally, if giving for the right reasons, having outside sources of financial support, helps build relational links with those people and churches.  A Kingdom connection gets established - one that prayers, sends and supports.  And that is a very worthwhile thing!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone feeling called to plant a church somewhere?
Enjoy it always, endure it at times, and let me know if there is anyway I can help.

So that's it.  The end of this Church Plant series - though maybe we'll revisit these churches at some point in the future to see how they are getting on!

I am part of the team leading the Hope:Tallinn church plant.

Church Email: hopetallinn@gmail.com
Twitter: @timinthenations
Tim's Email: timintallinn@gmail.com
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