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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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Does putting a prayer request post on social media show more faith in your friends responding than in your God?

I recently wrote the following as a status on Facebook:

Is putting prayer requests (especially for money!) on Facebook, showing more faith in your friends responding than in your God? Discuss.....

It was great to get a cross section of answers from people all around the world, some not even believers in the God they might (not) pray to.

So I wanted to put my answer down here, because if it's something I've asked, then I know others would have asked it - and if it's something a few have answered, I know it would be something many others would be looking to have answered.

The reason for the post was really to create a discussion - it wasn't prompted by anything I'd seen at that time.  Not that, in the past, I haven't seen such posts.  I'm sure we all have.  The kind that talks more about what the need is, and how much people can give, and even the bank account details, and then adds on, 'Amen', as if it's just a prayer all along and we have somehow, inadvertently, 'walked' in on this friends private chat with God.

It was interesting to be told of two accounts where a positive financial outcome had come from this very thing on Facebook - once where a person had been given an amount in their head to give, without knowing for whom, until they saw something on Facebook.  The other setting was someone saying how they gave, several times, because of seeing the need raised on Facebook.

Clearly, there is a balance between how often, and to whom, these requests are made - consensus was too much too often and it's a negative thing.  Discreet and appropriate ways are best - but I guess that leads to the question of what is appropriate?

At the other extreme there was the thought that any financial support is just sponging off others, and these people are simply failing, or being disobedient to, their God given talents - simply asking for the easy life instead of working hard for their own money.

I felt this was a bit harsh, and misses the point, as I'll come to a bit later.

Thinking this all through over the last week, one picture keeps playing out in my head.  When you need a home loan or mortgage, you don't address the individual account holders and savers, but speak to the bank itself - the bank manager if you got the chance.  And God is not only the guy above ALL banks, but has even more resources of his own compared to the combined wealth of every bank and business on the planet.  How much more do we need to make our requests known to him!

And ultimately, as was commented by a friend on Facebook (a great part of the Tallinn church plant too!), it's more a matter of the heart than any currency the planet might otherwise use.  Do we really believe that God is for us?  Can we trust him with our prayers, as wild and as unlikely as they might be?  Do we really know him as a loving father that wants us to ask him for anything, in order to bring him glory (let's not forget that part!  Many of my requests as a young boy, thankfully were not answered, as I know they were not for his glory and probably would have killed me!)  I stopped praying for flash cars, because if I owned a fast car, I'd be at greater risk of driving, well....fast.  

And regarding financial support, the key to understand is that it buys you time - not an easy life.  Time is our most valuable commodity, if we can call it that, as it is so out of our personal control so often.  We're judged more on how we have used our time, than how we spent our money!
Personally, God called me clearly and straightforwardly to the nations - the Russian speaking world of the former Soviet Union.  Up to the point of leaving the UK, I had worked since the age of 18 - never actually being 'full-time' in the church, though having been in leadership.  But by being obedient in going (obedience is a huge currency in the Kingdom of God!), I was making it impossible to do my God given gifting, especially initially.  I had no language to make me employable, and even if I did, the visa restrictions made it illegal to work.  
To go down the road of saying I needed to do my God given talents, would actually mean staying in the UK - not going anywhere!  That spiral of events and thinking can be more destructive than anything - the church could end up doing nothing!
And having worked (with some standard of living in the latter years), to live on support was really hard - horrible at times!  
So while I'm sure, sadly, a few might abuse such a position, really for most it's the opposite - less holidays, less things that others see as must haves, and a great responsibility for every pound, euro or ruble at your disposal.  
The support we did receive gave us vital time - to learn language, to understand culture, and to serve in the growing church once it got started.

And let's not forget the vital truth - it's better to give than to receive!  Better by far.  I've always loved to give - it's a great joy to do it and we can't forget the dual blessing that comes with giving - both to those receiving the gift, but also for the giver itself.  If the global church suddenly said let's stop giving to others, it would be the givers that would be most effected, not the others - God would find a way of funding his work.  Which, after all, is what anyone serving Him is actually doing anyway.  His work.

So, to draw these thoughts together.  Go first (maybe only) to God.  He knows what you need before you ask him, but He so enjoys you actually asking!  Keep persisting in prayer to God - talk to him about it daily.  He's a great listener!  Then, if you want others to pray with you, let the need be known in an appropriate way.  Maybe a group on Facebook, or something similar.  People want to know about your needs.  If something serious arises, your friends and family want to know about it.  That's what makes the people of God, the church, one big family.  And the stories above show that for some it's been the answer to their looking in regards to giving!  When your prayer is answered, if you've used Facebook (even if not) let them all know too.  

And where you do have the opportunity, look as to work in such a way that you can cover your own needs - and have some left over to bless someone else too!  That for me remains the goal, and the perfect situation.

Thanks for reading - I would be really interested with any further comments on the subject....

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