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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Monday, April 7, 2014

Easter Update: Salvation, Favour and Team GB


It's not been all that long since the last update, but quite a bit of fun stuff has been happening, so I wanted to update you all on this.

We shared news last time about the start of Christianity Explored.  I also talked about favour and in the past we've asked for prayers for the first person saved.

Well, in different ways, we've seen these happen this last month, and I'll share today what that means.

Here are the headlines of today's update:

  • A Young Girl makes a Big Decision
  • Christianity Explored Update - What We've Learnt and Where We Go From Here
  • Helsinki/Espoo Visit
  • Writing Favour with Amazon
  • My Team GB Footballing Debut!
Changeable Seasons

The photo above is from nearby Tabasalu, and is part of my growing collection of beautiful nature photos that have been taken around Estonia.  Here is a link to the album.  
Last time, I mentioned that Spring had come early (for Estonia, anyway!) and it has really stayed - we did have some funny weather, as this next photo shows.  Knowing snow was forecast, I managed to take the same photo, at the same time, exactly a day apart, to show you the contrast we sometimes have to.
It shows (in the sunshine!) an outdoor temperature of 25.1c on the first day and then it dropped to just 1.9c on the following, slightly snowy day.

And in many ways, the changing seasons of weather are models of the changing seasons in a church plant.  One day its like one thing, the next it's something totally different. We've certainly seen that with the CE course, and we've learnt a bit from it too.

Christianity Explored

The great news for our launch was that people came!

We had the venue - a restaurant not far from home, that did great food, at a good price, and had space for us to run what we wanted.  They'd even advertised the course for us on their Facebook page, as I'd mentioned last time.  We'd printed off 500 leaflets, most of which got given out, and had some large posters put up, including at the University.
And then people who said they were coming, started pulling out.

Maybe no one would come?

Thankfully, our first guest turned up - an Estonian mum, with her little boy, from the weekly toddler group.
And then, once we'd started the food, a Russian dad also turned up, with his two children.  The oldest daughter goes to school with Mia.  The kids were brilliantly entertained in the Kids Club, and the adults got to eat, and discuss together.

Whether it was the content, or the perception that this was going to be too 'religious', we don't know, but for various reasons (some very genuine as well!) nobody came to week two. Though many had expressed interest, actually committing to coming turned out to be too much.  One family even asked us to stop inviting them to these 'religious' events (though only these - they remain friends and want to come to other events still).  So it's been a real eye opener as we've begun to scratch the surface and see what actually lies beneath this culture.
We will be taking the ones who are interested through the rest of the course - this will be starting in a home soon, a smaller setting.  There seemed no reason for us to run the rest of the dates at the restaurant.

We're at the planning phase of running an Easter event for our Toddler group families, plus a few others.  That will be in less than two weeks, so please pray for favour and attendance to this new event, whilst continuing to pray for the two or three that will continue, in time, with the CE course.

Sow in One Place, Reap in Another

It's been a Biblical principle that's been around for a long time - and how true it proved with us recently in Tallinn.  With all the efforts going into the promotion of the CE course, the leaflets and posters and Facebook events, something else was happening.  Something unrelated to all this.  An eight year old was sharing the gospel with her class mate.
To retell the story fully, we need to go back a few weeks.  'N', as we will call her, is a student that Rachel teaches English to.  In a lesson maybe one month ago, a date (eg 50BC) came up, and there was a question about what BC meant (in Estonia, they have a different dating system for the years before Jesus, which does not include reference to him).  When Rachel explained it related to Jesus, the girl had never heard of Jesus (not uncommon in Estonia!)  So following that lesson, we were praying for N.
Now, about a week later, Mia came home from school to say that there had been an interesting conversation among her friends.  N had said something like "One day the world will end and everyone will die, including God" to which Mia replied "No, I don't believe that to be true - this is what I believe" and she went on to tell N all about heaven, Jesus and forgiveness of sins.  A few days after this N came back to Mia and told her she'd prayed the prayer Mia mentioned, asking Jesus into her heart and saying sorry for all the wrong things she'd done.  Mia then lent her a copy of a children's book she had which explains more of the story.  A few days later, the book was returned - she didn't need to borrow Mia's copy any more, her mum had ordered her her own copy!  N came to church yesterday to be part of the Kids club that Rebekah runs.
I was younger than N when I first prayed the prayer - and it's all it took for me.  So while she might not understand everything (what adult ever does anyway!), we are celebrating a young life saved, in a girl choosing from an early age to allow Jesus to shape her future.  Yes she's got some way to go, but praise God for that first step!
And we are also so proud of Mia who feels able to stand up for what she believes, in a context of absolute unbelief, and communicate this in a clear, childlike way, to her peers.

Finland Trip

In March, I also did an overnight trip to Finland (it's easily done in a day from Tallinn) where I got the ferry across to Helsinki, and made my way to Espoo, which sits to the West of Helsinki, about 15 minutes by train. Dave Henson met me there, with Kevin Jones, who moved with Lydia and their three children within the last year to start a church plant. Whether the church will be in Espoo or Helsinki, is yet to be clear.  Espoo has a population of, roughly, 300,000 and needs churches too.  
It was great to spend time with the family, and with Dave.  On the following morning, we went to a nearby lake and chatted while the youngest son, who is not in kindergarten, played in the park.  Finland has many lakes and forests.  It's the trees I remember most, and why moving to Estonia so reminded us of everything we love about Finland.
I then traveled with Dave on the two hour crossing back home to Tallinn, where Dave spent a couple of nights in town, sharing brilliantly at the Wednesday home group, before flying out early on Thursday morning.

Amazon Promotion

Last time up, I mentioned having been contacted by Amazon about possible inclusion in their Daily Deal.  Well, the story develops.  They wrote back last week, to not only say that I had been selected for inclusion (my novel Cherry Picking, to be more precise) but that it wasn't just for one day, but for three weeks as part of their Spring Deal!

So please, spread the word.  Cherry Picking has been included with other great books, by Authors like John Grisham.  I've included some Social Media links below to make it easy for you to share with others.  Every sale does matter, and it also helps push me up the charts, which results in more awareness (especially if it can make the Top 100 again!)

Facebook - Post
Google+ - Post
Twitter - Tweet

Tim Represents His Country - Finally!

It was always a boyhood dream to play for England.  I didn't really care in what sport, or field really.  Aged maybe 15, I remember clearly feeling disappointed when my Head of Year suggested I change something in my Record of Achievement, which was being written at that moment.  I'd put that I wanted to 'Represent my country' at some level and she'd changed it to "Play to my highest ability" so as to not 'disappoint' me in later life.  I felt dejected.  It's certainly one of those cutting to the heart moments I remember (for the wrong reasons!) from those, now less significant, school years.  I was writing short stories at the time - who would have thought that this would form such a part of my future!

Last week, I played for Great Britain (representing the British Embassy in Tallinn, anyway!) in the Diplomatic Cup that is held annually in Estonia (and probably many capital cities) among the various Embassies.  The UK team were a little short of numbers, so I got involved.
We were never going to win the cup - most of us had never played together before, and the one lady on our team had played 'maybe once' when she was 15.  But it was fun to wear the shirt, and play in the four group matches.
Rachel, Mia and Anya cheered us on well from the stands, watching the first two matches before leaving for a birthday party.  We played France and Moldova (both narrow defeats, one literally with the last kick of the game) as well as Georgia and Armenia, who both won by bigger scores than just 1-0.
But it was the taking part that counts, and as the first sport in 15 months since I hurt my back, great that I made it through the day at all!  I was rather sore on Sunday and unfortunately I'm having a few back issues with it going into spasm but maybe this isn't related.  If I'll play again next year, we will have to wait and see.  There was talk of the 'team' doing some actual practice together before hand, and if that happens, and my back improves, maybe I will play - next year, maybe we will have a little more chance.

So it just goes to show - don't take the words that were spoken over you in your youth.  It doesn't limit who you are, or what you can be.  Only God gets to set your destiny.  And maybe, one day, you will get to represent your country. Regardless what your Head of Year might have otherwise said.

'Missions' Week

For want of a better word (mission is a mindset remember, not a thing we turn on or off), we have the formation of a special week of mission happening in Tallinn from 18th July until 25th July 2014.  There will be more on this in the future, but anyone who might be free and would like to get involved, at least you have the dates.  So far, it seems we have a group of students coming over from Manchester, with Colin Baron and another one or two church leaders, and it's proving a bit of a focus to pull others to come and join us that week as well.
So if you are interested in joining us, in what will obviously be the highlight of your summer, please book those dates off and we can let you know details of what will happen in the future - most likely inclusion will be a three day Kids Camp (and probably time on a beautiful sandy beach too!)

Family

The gaps between school holidays (and the recovery time they allow) is starting to show a little as health has been a challenge, and not just for our family.  The team seem to be showing some strain at the moment, with various illnesses going around.  Please pray for healing for all.
Home life is very busy for another two weeks, before the weeks holidays that comes for Easter.  Please pray for health and rest, especially for Rachel who has a lot of teaching on at the moment.  She also might (or not?!) hear back from the European School this week about a possible job share option from September onwards.  It has to be the right option if they do call, otherwise it's not worth pursuing.  

Prayer Points

  • Easter weekend event
  • July 'mission' week - that we plan it well!
  • For 'N' and those that will continue with the CE course
  • For the nearby church plants we are connected with - Helsinki, Riga and Stockholm (incidently, me and Rachel are visiting Stockholm next month, as the church plant there have managed to get Terry Virgo over for the weekend.  Rebekah will kindly look after our girls for the two days).
  • For continued favour on my writing life
Thanks everyone!

Next time, it already sounds like we'll have a lot more to update you all on.


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