Summer 2016 Mission Report submitted by Mark Nelson
Tere Eestist! (Hi from Estonia!)
What a difference a couple of months make! The photo is my way of welcoming you to our new home (the first floor balcony in the middle of the building).
When I wrote my last letter, I would never have thought that this was possible, but God is so much better to us than we expect! In mid-May my landlady surprised me with the news that I needed to move out. Looking at rental options, made me realize that the difference in monthly payments between renting and paying a mortgage was minimal. Long term it is obviously smarter to buy and get something of your own rather than wasting the money on rent. Problem: how could I possibly afford the 20% down payment? Well, it turned out that God had a plan that He had been preparing for more than a year. You may remember last spring I was asking for prayer for a tax problem when I was forced to withdraw a large amount from the pension fund that OMS has for all its missionaries. That long and painful process ended just a few weeks earlier with almost the exact amount needed for the down payment being withdrawn from my RRSP and deposited into my bank account! God knew exactly why I needed to go through the stress of that fight with the tax man. It gave me the possibility to own my own home! Praise God!
This really is a milestone. The apartment I have been in was convenient and it did have one good thing: giant chestnut trees that towered over the 4th floor kitchen window and erupted every spring into a mountain of white flowers. Three times I watched those chestnut trees bloom while drinking my morning coffee. It seems like an eternity, but now a new life is starting. I really don’t know what the future holds, but I have no doubt that this new home is a gift from God and that He is looking after us.
Summer plans. Now that we are moved in and partially unpacked, it is time for a bit of a holiday, well, a working one, at least. The first two weeks of July I will be in Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana visiting friends and supporters, as well as the OMS international missions office which I have never actually visited.
Then the end of July I am going to teen camp. The national youth committee asked me and my friend Livia (I wrote about the Bible school program she started in her congregation in my last letter) to be mentors to the team of youth who are leading the camp. The youth leaders (all in their early 20’s) will do the speaking themselves. Livia and I are there to help them as they prepare their talks and give them what advice we can. I think this is a great way to develop the youth leaders and I am honoured by their trust. I used to like teen camp. Let me think, how many years ago was that?
The first weekend in August is our church’s national summer conference where I have also been asked to give a morning Bible study. I will look at Revelation 3, the letters to the churches in Sardis and Laodicea and the results of not being fully committed to God.
Karl and Kata will be with me at the camp and conference, so that will be fun. Kata turned 18 on June 17, which is another really milestone! Since Estonian kids start school a year later than in North America, she still has one year left before she finishes High School. I am really happy with how God has been working in her life. Like everyone her age, there is still a lot of growing to do, but I think she is off to a good start. Karl will be 14 in a few weeks and, well, he is growing! He is nearly as tall as I am and probably will pass me before the year is over. For the first time ever he declared a school project to be “kinda fun” this spring. It was making a video of the Greco-Persian wars for history class. It was encouraging to see him actually enjoying something school related.
The need for Bible training among the laypeople in Estonia is something I wrote about in my last letter. For two years now I have been working with denominational leaders in developing a low level Bible school program for lay people who are not ready or able to come to Seminary. We see this as an essential step in developing the potential of the lay people for greater involvement in the ministry of their congregations. With God’s help, we plan on starting this program in November. It will be a 7 session program consisting of one weekend each month, taking the participants through a basic survey of the Bible and Christian beliefs while focusing on developing their walk with God and their ability to use their gifts in the service of Christ. I have been asked to co-lead this new program together with Robert, one of the pastors of our Tallinn Russian speaking congregation. There is no doubt that this is a very great need with great potential, my concern is simply the time that it requires on top of everything else I have to do!
Mission teams are going this summer, but not as many as previously. Partly this is due to new restrictions in that large country where they serve. This is a major prayer request and makes me hesitant to write any more. Another major issue is that I simply do not have the time to put energy into it, and it seems that God is bringing me back more and more to focus on Estonia. There is a hope of someone coming towards the end of the year who can take some of the responsibility for this mission work. Pray that God’s leading would be clear, so that this work can continue and grow.
The middle of June was the Seminary graduation which saw a small class of 7 complete their studies. It has been a good year with a very positive atmosphere. The coming semester will be very busy, with the accreditation report due in November and to top it off, we will be without a secretary! But I will write more about that in autumn.
Thank you so much for your support and your prayers. God has been so good through all that has happened. Now sitting in my new home, listening to the birds singing outside (something I missed living downtown the last years) and looking to the future, I am excited to think what comes next.
Thanks for standing with me.
In Christ’s Service,
Mark, Katarina & Karl
|Prayer Requests:ӝ Praise God for our new home!
ӝ Pray for the summer camp and conference, that they would bring people closer to God.
ӝ Pray for the launch of the Bible school program, that the organizational challenges would go smoothly. But most importantly, pray that the students would come with a real desire to grow closer to God.
ӝ Pray for the future of the mission work to indigenous people in our neighboring country! For freedom to serve, and workers to lead it!