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.

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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Home Again

We’ve just returned to Russia after a good trip visiting family and ministry partners in Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, and Romania. I hope to write more about that soon.

Several of my conversations centered on how Jesus is a good shepherd. If you are going through a difficult time, He has helped many people go through something similar. Pray and listen for the Shepherd’s voice. Submit to Him. Follow Him. He will call you by name and lead you on. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.

We’ve made this drive before and often stop at a particular gas station in Augustow, Poland. It’s funny how we can form a sort of emotional attachment to a gas station. We have good memories there and usually make stop for old-time’s sake.

Back in 2011, we took a picture of Val standing by the exit from the car wash. We took the same picture two years ago and again this year:

2011

2017

2019

Quick News from Congo

Donors in the USA offered to send money to the churches in Congo. The region that I have visited is right in the heart of the current Ebola outbreak. Damiri Paluku, church planter and overseer, wrote:

Yes we will use the money to help Pastors and churches in Health care.
Now that our whole region has Ebola, it is frightening to go to hospitals for treatment. We had a case in our church in Beni a sister from the choir got sick, she went to the hospital,  3 days later she was released. A few days later she was diagnosed Ebola positive. We understand that she got it from the hospital.
We need to purchased a package of Malaria, Typhoid and flu médecine for Pastors; Then we are going to buy buckets and bassins for hand washing at the church doors; plus liquid soaps and disinfectant. This is to be done for all our churches.
Thank you very Much in advance.
Please let me know if you’d like to contribute to helping the churches. Please keep them in prayer.

A Postcard from Russia

Val is 12 years old! Hard to imagine. The picture above is of her enjoying her birthday meal at dacha — piles of food in the foreground and piles of building materials in the background.

We’ve just finished a bit of traveling — we met a team from Athens, GA in Estonia and helped them run an English camp at Camp Gideon. Then we went with them to Finland and stayed there for a week after they went to the USA. It was great to see the team. THEN, we drove back to Estonia to drop Val off for camp while we returned to Russia. Now we’re all together again at dacha.

Next week, for the sixth year running, we’ll run a camp for a drug rehab program for single mothers and their children. A couple from Texas will arrive on Friday to help with that camp. In a few weeks we’ll drive to Montenegro. I will visit a potential ministry partner in Albania while we’re there.

One interesting thing — Olga and I are translating a book written by a minister from Kazakhstan. I’ll give an update about that later. It’s taking a bit of time to work on, and the end result will be very helpful for missionaries, churches and any missionary sending organization.

We’ve already started talking with people about next summer! We hope to have a team in Montenegro and perhaps one in Moldova; the Estonia team has already set dates for their camp. We’re also planning  a Stoneworks leadership conference in St. Pete in October. As usual, we have a lot going on.

This comes to mind, from Psalm 84:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

May our strength be in the Lord, may our home be with Him, may His blessings flow through us to those He brings into our lives.

Africa, England and Moldova

We’ve had website ‘issues’ for a few months and I’m finally able to post an update. Much has transpired since my last report.

The work in Africa continues. My trip in January was different compared to previous visits. I was in a different city and met many new people.

Mike Anticoli, Vin Lucien and I spoke at a conference held by Church on the Rock in Goma, DRC, at the foot of an active volcano. Damiri Paluku (with me at left) is a great friend, and he pastors the church in Goma. It’s an honor to minister with these men.

I spoke on The Prophetic Gift, a study of how God used prophets in the Old Testament and New Testament. There are many false prophets in Congo, people who claim to speak for God but tear families apart and manipulate people for financial gain. The church was happy to hear the truth that God wants his gifts to be used in love, to build people up, to encourage and comfort His people.

We met with a group of business people who gather regularly to encourage each other (see the picture above). I helped introduce them to IBB Talks, a Christian business video series that has been a great help to many around the world.

In addition to teaching and fellowship, I carried water filters and solar LED lights so people who have no electricity can have light in their homes. Continue reading

A Postcard from The Cantrells

This year we’ve enjoyed the plentiful life that God has given us.

Mike continues to serve in Europe, the USA and Africa. The work is expanding: Stoneworks added new partners from Romania, Estonia, Moldova and Russia. Mike travels often to encourage and help partners in many countries, and August saw the Stoneworks biennial conference in Odessa, Ukraine, attended by over 50 people from the Arctic to the Adriatic. We thank God for the great relationships and fruitful work He has entrusted to us.

Olga continues to home school Valerie and be good friend to many. She led a camp in Russia for single mothers, and she served with a mission team in Estonia. Olga also helped start a homeschooling co-op in St. Petersburg, Russia. She also did a lot of painting and moving logs at dacha!

Valerie is a beautiful 11-year-old and continues to grow into a lovely young woman. She studies in two languages, plays the piano and takes dance lessons when in Russia. She loves drawing and continues to improve in it. She says, “My Dad’s exaggerating!” (But I’m not.)

Olga and Val go to Russia in January. Mike will go to Congo in January and then to Russia in early February. We have a lot of ground to cover in the next few months, and then the summer work will be upon us!

In Christ –

Mike, Olga and Valerie Cantrell

Pictures, counter clockwise from top left:
1) Olga’s mother, grandmother and Val, at dacha (4 generations!)
2) Mike teaching in Butembo, DR Congo, with bishop Damiri Paluku
3) Olga and Val at Barberitos in Athens, GA
4) Mike and Mike Anticoli, standing on the equator in Uganda
5) Olga and Val with Grandad Jim (Mike’s dad)
6) Val with a feathered friend!
7) Val when we visited friends in Texas (can you tell?)
8) Center: Olga and Mike at dacha, on a sunny/rainy summer day