Welcome

In November of 2000, I (Mike) moved to Russia to help establish a Russian Charity named MIR.  A little over a year later I married Olga.  In 2011, we welcomed a three year old Russian girl named Valerie into our home. Over the years, God has led us and blessed us in many ways.

We have a home in St. Petersburg, Russia and spend time in the USA, Finland, Montenegro and Estonia.  I have businesses in the USA and am the Executive Director of Stoneworks International, a mission organization with projects in Europe from the Barents Sea to the Balkans. I also partner with churches in Uganda and Congo, so I travel a lot.

We hope you’ll wander around here, learn more about us, have some fun and see evidence of the goodness of God.

Let This Sink In

This, just from Damiri –

Mantumbi is still dangerous. One of our elders refused to come to Butembo with Pastor Deo. He was afraid of hunger in a big city like Butembo. So, he ran to a nearby village when Mantumbi was attacked. A few days later he went back to his farm to press some palm oil. The jihadists found him and slaughtered him. Deo knows of many cases like that.

If you would like to support the work in Congo, serving those who lay their lives down for the gospel of Christ, you may send donations:

Online:
Visit http://www.sjumc.org
Choose “Cantrell Missionary Support”
Write “Congo Relief” in the notes section
Follow instructions to finalize the donation

Or

Make the check to:
St. James Missionary Fund
Write “Congo Relief” on the memo line

And mail to:
St. James UMC
111 West Lake Drive
Athens, GA 30606

. . . because the killers always pass through the school yard.

We along with Mike Anticoli, Victory Christian Church and several donors recently sent financial support to churches suffering in eastern Congo. This was the first of an on-going relief fund helping our brothers and sisters in that area, a region that suffers from murderous attacks and a recent Ebola outbreak. Damiri recently visited many of the churches and has sent us this report — 

From pastor Damiri Paluku Wa Sumbusu:

I am very grateful for the privilege of coming to visit brothers and sisters from different Churches that are affected by the killings. Thanks for helping out and providing for my air ticket, meals and assistance to different needs. I met with pastors and Church members from six of our Churches in Beni, I also visited four of the churches: Biane, Eringeti, Oicha and Beni.

I want to share some News, Photos and Gratitudes from different our different Churches for the School Fees support and the Relief Funds.

When you leave Béni going to Oicha and to Eringeti, there are a lot of military camps both sides of the road; many abandoned, and burnt houses, a few civilians walking on the side of the road.

I was able to meet our brothers and sisters from Mantumbi. I was able to visit two sisters from Mantumbi in Beni. One was seriously sick and admitted in a hospital. The hospital did not give her a bed because she is a refugee, and they know that refugees do not pay, so they put her mattress on the ground and in a men’s hall. When they saw us coming to visit, they decided to give her a bed in the women’s hall.

In Butembo I had lunch with the couple of Papa Deo and many others from our Church in Mantumbi.

Pastor Robusta – From Oicha

Most people in Oicha have not been living in their homes for more than a year. They spend nights in balconies of houses a long side the main Road, and others spend nights on the football ground, fearing to be killed at night by the jihadists.

I saw a child that was almost 2 when they left their home, about one year later the parents went to visit their abandoned home with the child; seeing grown grass around the house, the child asked her parents: where had the owners of the house gone, not knowing it is their home; she had forgotten the house.

In this period of trial we testify about the hunger of the word of God that is Growing in our community.

We are Grateful for the Relief Funds that has helped get a place to stay, we got food and before that we have been receiving support for School fees. My children used to fail School because they could not finish a term, they used to bé chased because of School fees. But my daughter succeeded with 89%, she was surprises that she finished last year without being chased. She has promised to continue studying hard.

We organized Our Church to helped my neighbor build his house. December last year we had gathered 700$ (our work of 3years), we have been able to add 20 $ since January this Year.

Pastor Élu Ngwete – from Mongamba

We are very Grateful for the coming of Pastor Damiri. We are very Grateful for the Relief Support and the school fees, my children are not chased out of school any more and they are working very good. They used to fail, because they were always chased when they did not have school fees.

Pygmies and bantus from our community are enjoying God’s word, in May we are planning to have discipleship sessions. We are preparing to cut tree and make lumbers to build the Church we have fuel and the cutting machine is ready, we are still looking for some more money to pay the one that will cut the timber for us.

We are helping 3 pygmy orphans in my family.

Our village has experience a serious Time of fear and many have left and have gone to Butembo; we also have a challenge of poisoning, but God is taking Care of us. Pray for us. We need to build our Church. We hold meetings outside.

pastor Muyali – from Biane

We thank God for all that he is doing. We also thank our leaders for their love and care.
We have received the relief support and School fees for our children. I also received help for my eyes surgery.

Last December people had start coming back to the village then in January we were attacked seriously and people left. Many Church members testify of the way  the Relief support was a great help many have taken Church seriously to see how we care for them in the time of trouble. Some people are coming back to the village, so I decided to go back for them. But many are still in Beni and Butembo.

We are also planning to collect money to contribute on the purchase of the Oicha Church Land. We plan to make Charcoal and what we get, we will give for the purchase of our Church Land in Oicha.

Today we have an attendance of about 50 people. I am also doing discipleship with the new believers.

We need to work on our Sunday School, it has been forgotten for a long time.

For our School in Biane: the Fellowship helped us to go to Bunia work on our School Legal Documents. It is in process now. In case we get these papers, our teachers will be paid by the government. When that happens it will be a big step forward, because we have never been able to pay our teachers enough since we started school there, we always give them very little money.

For now, we abandoned our school facility because the killers always pass through the school yard. So parents did not want to send their children to that location. We are planning on moving the classrooms on the side of the main road. It is safer there.

Also, soldiers that came to defend us are occupying part of our Land.

Pastor Moïse – from Eringeti

We were happy to see our Pastor Damiri and the word of encouragement that he has given us.

We are grateful for the school fees of children, the school had started chasing my children when we received the funds for school fees, we got food for our families thanks to the Relief Funds. We say thank you very much

Before the attacks and killings, we had ask the Church to contribute for our Oicha Church Land, we were able to gather 75,000 Congolese Francs. We had left our Church building because of the killings next to our Church building. We have not been able to use the Church building for a little more than a year now. A small group had been Gathering in the pastor’s house. Now we are planning 4 cell groups, so far one has started.

Pastor Germain – from Apende

Apende was safe during the last killings, but now we receive many refugees. I received 5 Families at our church, they all received help from the Relief Fund. It was a big surprise for them. The unfinished house serves as a shelter for the families.

We are grateful for the support we get for the school fees of pastors’ children.

We have 4 groups for discipleship now. We are doing door to door Evangelism.

We had 8 cell groups last Sunday, the total number of people that met last Sunday in all our cell groups were 103.

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When Sorrow Like Sea Billows Roll

The world is going through convulsions these days. This storm shall pass, but while we’re in it, we have a great opportunity to learn deep and lasting lessons. Let’s pray this prayer: Lord, help is go through this well as Christians, so we can help others who walk the same path.

Several years ago I came across an excellent example of how believers can respond in times of fear and real trouble. John Wesley was the founder of Methodism, and as a young man he went on a mission trip from England to the USA. Below is an excerpt from Wesley’s journal. He was on the ship bound for America and observed Moravian Brethren [anabaptist Christians, whom he sometimes called ‘Germans’] in the midst of a life-threatening storm:

——-

Sunday, January 25, 1736

At seven I went to the Germans [Moravians]. I had long before observed the great seriousness of their behaviour. Of their humility they had given a continual proof, by performing those servile offices for the other passengers, which none of the English would undertake; for which they desired, and would receive no pay, saying, “it was good for their proud hearts,” and “their loving Saviour had done more for them.”

And every day had given them occasion of showing a meekness which no injury could move. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth.

There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the Spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, anger, and revenge. In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.

A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on.

I asked one of them afterwards, “Was you not afraid?”

He answered, “I thank God, no.”

I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?”

He replied, mildly, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”

From them I went to their crying, trembling neighbours, and pointed out to them the difference in the hour of trial, between him that feareth God, and him that feareth him not. At twelve the wind fell. This was the most glorious day which I have hitherto seen.

——-

Hebrews 2:14,15

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

In Slough

I’m having a great visit with a Romanian fellowship in Slough, England. Last year I visited and spoke in the importance of unity among believers. This time, I’m speaking on  the necessity of abiding in Christ.

My being here is an example of how the Lord makes connections. Our partner in Romania, David McGuire, introduced me to this church. It’s a lovely group of believers, earnest in their faith and wanting to walk in the ways of God.

While in England, I’ll also meet with ministry partners regarding the work in Russia and a potential partnership in Albania.

To God alone be the glory. He is a good Father who leads His people well.

Podcast!

I have just started a podcast called “Ask for the Ancient Paths.” A few people have asked if I could put my teachings in podcast form, and I’ve finally gotten to it. Many thanks to my friend Zhenya for his invaluable help.

Over the coming months I’ll release recordings of previous sermons as well as new content.

It is available on iTunesGooglePlay, and Spotify,  or use this feed URL in any Podcast player: https://feed.podbean.com/cantrell/feed.xml. 

Or, use these codes on your phone: Continue reading

A Postcard from Russia

Hello friends,

We’ve just returned to Russia after a very good trip to Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and Romania. It was, as usual, a LONG drive and well worth it.

In Montenegro, we spent 3 weeks visiting with family, friends and ministry partners. Violeta and her new husband Stefanos (who were married in Denmark) had a celebratory party; thats us above with Olga’s mother Tanya. And, Olga’s sister has a new baby that we HAD to visit. I also met with ministry partners, talking through issues and having good fellowship with several long-term missionaries.

I made a quick trip to Albania to meet with a potential new Stoneworks partners, a young American lady who will move there next year. I met with her in the UK earlier this year, and it was good to meet with the leadership of her church in Albania. Perhaps she and the church will become new partners . . . .

In Serbia, we visited our good friends Jan and Nada Dudas and their family. We like them a lot, and on this trip we discussed the possibility of me leading a team to minister in their church next summer. I very much hope that works out.

Then we had a short visit with our friends and ministry partners David and Rodica McGuire. I spoke at the main church in town and also in a Hungarian village church. It’s gratifying to experience such good and pleasant friendships in the Lord.

So, we’re now in Russia for a bit. We’ll close down dacha soon and Val will start tennis (!) lessons soon. Life continues, and we are thankful for the life God has given us.

Help for Churches in Congo

Through the very generous donations of folks in the USA, we were able to send help to our friends in Congo. The pastors I’ve met in Congo lead churches in the heart of the current Ebola outbreak. They are heroes of the faith, sacrificing themselves for the gospel. Here is a word from one of the leaders:

We are so grateful for your generosity. We received the support you sent us, and we bought medicine, liquid soap and some other things that will help the families of our pastors. Thank you so much. May God bless you abundantly.

They also purchased disinfectants and hand-washing rigs for church meetings. As you can imagine, it can be dangerous having meetings in an Ebola outbreak, since the sickness is transferred by personal contact. The medicines are helpful in other situations.

Please keep these dear brothers and sisters in your prayers. It means a lot to them that we are with them in spirit and remember them in our prayers.

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