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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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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Walking with us - Tallinn update

It's been two months since I last managed to write an update.  Even this is on a borrowed computer because our laptop stopped workin!  This will mean no photo's in this update as they are all on the laptop.
And even if the computer was still working, the ongoing back and now leg pain has made it really hard to sit at the desk and work.

Yes, lot's has happened in this last two months, and though we are still working through some of it, there is loads to update you on!

A Significant Week last December

My last update talked about me going to the Global Cities conference in London on the last week of November.  I flew back to Tallinn on 2nd December, and really sensed there was a lot I was working through, processing what had been a very interesting, and moving, three day conference.  On the one hand, I was being given so much amazing wisdom, input and information.  Churches that were much further ahead of our own situation were sharing from their experiences, both good and bad.  Specifics were discussed.
The two things that really touched me, all the above good stuff aside, was actually something very different.  On the first day the visiting speaker, an Australian now living in New York, talked about his leadership team prayer walking for two hours each day.  They walk their neighbourhoods, and pray.  Much of it is listening prayer, but it's giving God permission to work, and their church growth (7 campuses in 7 years) was put down specifically to two things - the power of prayer and answered prayer.  Wow.  This alone really got to me and started stripping back all the layers that we want to add to make us 'good' at what we do.  So the first thing I was left with is "I really want to pray a whole lot more!"
The second thing to impact me was a ten minute encounter with a lady named Anita on the lunch time break of the final day.  We'd been inside a lot over the course of the conference, and breaks were usually filled with getting to know people.  The guy leading the Madrid church plant, for example, was there.  A group from the Stockholm plant were also there.  These conversations were greatly encouraging.  But with snow gently falling outside on that Friday lunch break, I felt I needed some fresh London air (if I can call it that!), partly to continue processing all that I was experiencing.
Outside the building, which was just off Oxford Street in central London, as the Christmas shopping season was well underway, sat a homeless lady.  She was, I guess, in her 40s or 50s and her name was Anita.  I asked her what she was doing on that cold, late November lunchtime.  She told me she was waiting for Christmas.  When I asked her what she meant, she explained she was waiting for the 'Crisis at Christmas' event, when for one week a year, she is fed, looked after, talked to and sheltered.  She explained she didn't want to be on the streets.  I could see this wasn't someone wanting handouts but someone effected by circumstances outside her control.
It really impacted me.  To think her one thing to look forward to was one week (out of 52) to feel human again.  And that was still about a month away.
Someone brought out some food for her and I was left deeply impacted - in fact I left London with a note saying two things.  1 - I must pray more (the must being my desire). 2 - I must remember Anita.
Because, while I knew as a visitor to London and the UK to that end, I could not effect the life of this Anita, there were Anita's in Tallinn as well.  What good is there if we plant a church that gathers thousands and yet has no impact on the Anita's of the city - those marginalised and cut off from the church, and society in general.
Those two things got in my soul, agreeing with the Spirit of God - I felt we had a much truer sense to who we are to be as a church plant in Tallinn.  To pray God's agenda over all we do, God's timing - God's plan.  And to pray that the church in Tallinn would reach the unreachable.  Love the unloveable.  Remember the forgotten.
I flew back on the morning of Sunday 2nd December expectant with fresh vision.  There was a meal at our home that same Sunday.  On Monday I met with Arnoud to talk through the whole conference and in particular these two things I was left with.
On Wednesday 5th we had our weekly prayer meeting - I shared again there and there was faith rising in the room.  We agreed this was something from God and what we would go for.  I had already taken two prayer walks that week around our area, meeting a guy on the second day who gave me a lift home - he turned out to be a neighbour of ours.
We finished the prayer meeting with praying for the supernatural - the sick being healed.  My final words were that this would be a sickness free church.

Resistance to Change

Any spiritual breakthrough in a city brings change - people move from one kingdom into another.
What we all experienced in the week that followed that prayer meeting, I believe now more than ever, was resistance to change.  
As Christians, when we talk about spiritual warfare, it's not that we go out to make war; that we go out to put ourselves in danger.  No, it's realising the truth.  That left as we are, we are already in a war.  We are born into this world and controlled by it's ruler.  We are captives and don't even know it.
As Christians we therefore come as liberators, taking people from the power of Satan and his control and bringing them into the love of God and his ultimate authority.
There is no sitting on the fence.  You can choose not to fight, but no one get's to remain neutral.  If you have not been liberated into God's love, then you are still under the otherside's total control.
And I say this because within a week of praying this, we saw a backlash.  Elisabeth, Arnoud's wife and fellow team member here in Tallinn, suddenly had a reoccurance of a health condition that hadn't effected her in months and yet over that week suddenly had several episodes that really effected her.  She needed to see the doctor and on going tests are due next month.
By the weekend I too was unable to walk (kind of limiting when the aim is to prayer walk my neighbourhood as much as I can!).  It's unclear exactly what I did to cause this, but I think in the natural it was a combination of some form of muscle pull in my chest while playing volleyball on the Monday (3rd) and then moving snow around and playing outside with Mia and Anya on the Friday (7th) and Saturday morning.  Once in on the Saturday, we sat down to watch a film and I couldn't stand up after.
By Monday I was taken to hospital by ambulance still unable to walk and in great pain.  I was examined, injected, put on a drip, tested and then told I had not broken anything and could leave!  The only issue was, I still couldn't walk.
With Arnoud's help, we got home and Rachel was able to pick up the medication I was to take.  She was warned when she picked it up that if I could avoid taking the stronger one, I should.  But that was the pain killer and I needed that to beable to start trying to move around again.
The side effects from that drug were very difficult for me, almost as hard as what they were trying to stop.  Reading up on them on the internet, I decided to come off them, which I did, though the night before we flew back to the UK for Christmas, as a side effect, I was unable to sleep at all, all night.
I was cleared to fly, albeit with assitance as required, and was able to speak to a doctor in the UK, who also suggested I come off the other drug as well, because of the risk of addiction.
Just before new year, to add to the back pain, I caught a virus that would last for two weeks, and would also then come out in the rest of the family over the next three weeks.
We arrived back in Tallinn on 2nd January in a bad way.  Mia would miss the first eight days of her new school term, and Anya was only given the all clear on 21st January.  So the new year felt like it was taking ages to start back on.
As well as the back pain (which is thankfully much more like a dull ache at the worst of times), the pain has now moved down my left leg, making walking difficult at times, mainly after getting up from a sitting position.
So working at the computer, as I am doing now, will mean I will not be able to stand up straight once I get up.  And at the end of January the computer stopped working, so letting you all know about things to pray with us was not possible anyway!
But two months on now from that prayer meeting, the message we are singing out is this - you've not stopped us Satan.  We're still standing! (Even if with a little pain!).  I've managed to start up the prayer walks again, and Rachel does her own route as well.  I love these times and the connection it makes with the area, the people, and God's heart for his city.

On the lighter side...

Now that's out the way, we've had a few visitors again already.  Nick and Nadia came over from St Petersburg.  We'd postponed them from December and they came in mid January for the weekend.  Nadia was part of the original church plant team in St Petersburg.  It was also great for our Russian, as Nick (though vastly improved from when we last saw him!) is a non English speaker.
After that, and for just a day, we had Phil & Emma Whittall with their two children, Noah and Anna, come over to Tallinn from Stockholm.  They are planting a church there, at the same stages as we are in Tallinn, and it was great to properly spend time together as families.  We are excited for Stockholm that these guys are serving there.
And then last week, we had Dave Henson with us, who came on the bus from St Petersburg with another pastor, Kakule, who leads the other Newfrontiers church in the city (I mentioned in my September update how it had been an honour to be back in St Pete's to see All Nations church welcomed into our family).
These guys prayed for us, even did the prayer walk with me, and basically blessed and refreshed us.  
Dave was also talking with me about his langauge academy, which I'll build on and mention in a bit.

Also in the News...

Teaching English was something that God opened a door to for me in our last year in Russia, and while I thought it would be something I'd be doing in Tallinn, lately it's been Rachel that God has opened the door for this here.  What started with helping coach one student from Mia's class in English, has now grown to four, over seven lessons during the week.  It is also great for building relationships with these four families.
Some Russian neighbours of ours, who own a flat on the floor below us, also want lessons when they are in Tallinn, using their flat as their holiday home from life in Moscow.  On their previous visit, I taught the mother and Rachel taught the daugther.  Due to ill health, we did not teach them over New Year, but they are planning to be back in the summer for a long time, so we'll have to see how that works out!
And staying on the English language theme, another exciting development has  emerged through Dave Henson.  He is now the Managing Director of WE-Bridge International, which is a language academy in Cardiff.
Over the last month, we've been talking together about me working with him in the Baltic region to connect students with his academy.  The long term option is that the academy has it's own Tallinn base, but before that, there is a whole load of opportunity to really back a successful business here.  Today I am meeting with the Director of Mia's school to talk this all through with him about opportunities there are for them.  I'm meeting with the British Council on Thursday to discuss partnering with them, and asking them loads of questions.  I'm also meeting a businessman tomorrow (one of the parents of a child in Mia's class) who has started a number of businesses in Estonia, to talk through the process with him, so that, though it's apparently a very easy process here, I know exactly what is needed before I set out.

Prayer Points:

- Please pray for this business option that I am exploring over this next month.  It has all the potential to be a very important partnership between business and mission.

- Please pray for complete health and healing for us all, and specifically this leg pain that I am struggling with.

- Praise God that Rachel, Mia and Anya are now fully recovered.  Please pray your blessing upon them, especially Rachel, as it's hardest on her with me not being so mobile!

- Pray for more workers to join us in Tallinn.  We have a guy visiting us from the UK in June who wants to move here.  Please pray for that, and others like him - there is room for so many more so if this is something you feel God speaking to you about, please get in touch with me.

- I've applied for a year long multi-entry Russian visa and am due to preach at Hope Church St Petersburg on March 24th.  Please pray that everything comes together for this and that God would use this time to continue his story for us with Russia.


Thanks for reading and praying, and sorry there are no photo's, but trust that next time there will be!

With love,

Tim, Rachel, Mia and Anya xxxx




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