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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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tallinn Update - The Praise God Issue

Wow - it's been a massive few weeks with much answered prayer - I'm still walking with a limp, so that's something we'll keep praying into, but to bring you up to date on what else is happening, here we go:

Anya has a kindergarten place!
The waiting lists for kindergartens (nursery for our UK friends) are long in Tallinn - when we finally found out Anya's position on the list of our local choice, we knew the waiting would be long - she was number 306 on the list (bearing in mind each year there are about 30 places freed up per kindergarten!)  As most families have their children down for three kindergartens, even if the list jumped down by 60 each year as places are filled, we'd be looking at years rather than months.
Well, not long after Anya started praying herself about a place, with her parents fully away of the issues with that, Rachel got a call.  Another local kindergarten was opening a new class - and though the rest of the place was Russian, the new class would be Estonian.  We went there that same day (a week last Thursday), and because of the Russian element, could speak with the Director and understand everything.  The kindergarten we did have Anya on the list for was all Estonian (we want Anya to learn Estonian).  The issue for us would be communication with the teachers.  
Well, praise God, that is not an issue with this one.  We were told there are places, were given a form, and having handed that in, have been told she has a place - and can actually start next week!  We have a parents evening on Friday afternoon there, and we think we'll start Anya there on Friday, March 1st! (Got so delayed in sending this out that we've had the parents evening - which was all in Estonian so we didn't understand a word!  Thankfully afterwards, with a mixture of a little English and some Russian, we found out what we needed to know).  And Anya will be starting this coming Friday!
This is a major answer to prayer - and also a small milestone for us, as our 'baby' starts in her very own kindergarten, which will be totally in Estonian.  What's funny, thinking about how far we've come in this last 4 and a half years, is that at the parents evening, they will be doing it in Estonian and translating it into Russian for our benefit! (Erm, well, as you can see, this is what we had been told would happen :-))

Estonian Lessons
What's also new this year, and so far slipped through the net in regards us sharing with folks, is that Rachel and I have started proper Estonian lessons with a local teacher.  These are happening every week now, for about the last 5 weeks.  Progress is encouraging, and is supplimented by other online courses.  There has been some advantage having learnt Russian - with some natural overlap as well as grammar similarities, as well as the process of learning a language.  That said, Estonian is a whole nother level in difficulty, so we have a very long way to go.  With life getting busier by the week, we didn't want to get to the stage where language learning has not progressed enough to be able to speak Estonian with Estonian's in five years time (or maybe make that ten years!)

Business Links
They say that Estonia is in the top twenty places in all the world for ease of doing business.  And having had a week where in six days I literally went from not knowing the process at all, to signing the papers founding the company at the notary, I have to agree.  I have since been told I did it the longer way - it could have been done in minutes through my ID card.  Oh well, maybe next time...
Now obviously there is a long way to go before the business is actually doing anything - even longer before I can take any, if any, money from it.  The first option for that, should the case exist, would be well into 2015 when the annual reports first need to be published.
But what it has done now is open relational doors for me.  Just being in business has allowed me to meet with a number of people - Mia's school Director, the Director of the British Council in Estonia as well as a businessman parent of one of Mia's classmates, who was amazingly helpful to me in the process, even coming as my translator at the notary.  I'm due to meet with another dad next week sometime again because of the business.
So please pray for God's hand to be on me as I press on with this business idea.  If you want to know what the business is, it's called Tim Heath Language Agency OÜ and you can find the website here.

Team Growth...?
One of our fervent prayers over the last two weeks has been in relation to labourers in God's harvest field here in Tallinn.  We've been praying about a number of giftings which we need to join us.
And this week, we've had some great encouragements along those lines, though it is too early to say exact details for sure, but here is something in general.
I chatted for a long time on Skype with an young Estonian/American couple.  They are super gifted people and prophesied some spot on stuff over me even during our 90 minute chat!  Over the last 10 days (ha, sense the timing 'coincidence here') they have suddenly felt that their immediate future is not to be in the USA but back in Tallinn, where the wife is from.  So it's highly possible that they will move to Tallinn this Autumn and join the church plant team!
That alone would be a fab answer to prayer, and we pray it's just the start of people hearing the call to join us.
Later that same day, an English young lady who I'd met with on her last trip to Tallinn in October, wrote to me and stated that she is seriously looking at options to come to Tallinn this summer, and when asked, she confirmed it would be to join the church plant.  She has a real heart for children.
So we are encouraged in our praying and will pray all the more!  But praise God for these folks already.
A Russian girl from Hope Church in St Petersburg, who has always had the desire to join us, also commented that she is looking into a study option that would potentially allow her to join us this summer too.
And finally, another young guy who is based in the UK is making a three week trip to Tallinn in May/June with the view to moving here as well at some point (I guess on the back of how successful the visit goes!) to join the church plant.
God is the God who answers prayer.  And we know this is just the beginning.  The Tallinn church plant will also be getting some profile coverage at this years Mobilise conference in April and the Catalyst Festival in May.
So if you are going to either of these, be sure to listen out for the church plant there.

Continuing to Gather
As a church plant we are continuing to gather together every week.  At our meal event last Sunday, we had seven different countries represented, including our first Iranian visitor!  It was a great success.
We've also been continuing to build strong friendships with the other churches in Tallinn.  Before the meal on Sunday we were able to visit a church called Praise Chapel, having got to know the couple leading the church well over this last year.  They have also asked me to speak at their church on Easter Sunday, which is a great honour and something I am really looking forward to.

Estonian Indepence Day
Having not got round to publishing this update until now, we can share about the celebration of Estonia's 95th Anniversary of their original independence from 1918.  In Freedom Square, which has a permanent memorial to this event, there were over 1100 troops marching, followed by a convoy of military vehicles and then a fly-by of various aeroplanes, helicopters and fighter jets.
It was the final festival that we had yet to celebrate, and maybe Estonian's most precious.  This coming Friday marks our own year anniversary since moving to Tallinn. 
One big festival that we are yet to see, which only happens every five years in Tallinn and is happening in summer 2014, is the Song Festival, which gathers around 100,000 people and, on the worlds biggest stage area, has up to 15,000 singers at some points.  So we look forward to experiencing that, in time.  Before that, we have a lot more adventures to have!
Thanks for reading.  We love your comments and emails, but even without them, we know that many people are praying with us for breakthrough in this most spiritually needy country.

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