Saturday, March 24, 2018

New assignment NABC

As you may know from previous communication, we are not able to stay in Russia at the present time.  Although we have lived in Khabarovsk, Russia, for more than a decade, Cecil's resident permit was cancelled.  While he is still able to get a visa to Russia, he is not able to live there are before.

Our family will be taking a position as Missionary in Residence with the Native American Bible College in Shannon, North Carolina.  This will involve interacting with students, assisting staff, and generally helping with their program - especially regarding missions.  This is the plan for the coming year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Dear Friends,

we have returned to the States.

To be honest, our plans right now are not very clear.  We've had some
great successes, but our situation is changing rapidly.  Not sure
if/when we will be able to return to Russia.

It seems like Russia has been in the news a lot over the last year.
Among other things, diplomats have been expelled.  In the midst of all
that, my (Cecil's) resident permit was cancelled and I was told to
leave.  In effect, I was deported.  Later I was able to return on a
visa, but that was only good for a period of time, and I had to leave
again.  This time the entire family has come to the States.

Before leaving Russia, we were able to turn over much of our ministry to
national workers.  Some of the work, such has the Bible School, has been
lead by Russian nationals for some time.  A few other things were fairly
easy to turn over since we have been doing them jointly with Russian
churches.  Other work, such as the dacha project, required us to step up
our schedules.  And in a few cases plans had to be put on indefinite

We are very glad to report that rehabilitation work is going on at the
dacha project.  We feel that this is a major project that has been
successfully launched and in operation.  While those who are now leading
this work will likely add their own flavor to it, we feel good about it
and the national workers who are now leading it.

We are settling into a place in North Carolina.  Our son, Timothy, has
already been State-side.  He prepared the house for our return.  Some
folks with a local church helped him out, for which we are very
grateful.  Having a house ready is a nice thing.

We have some plans for ministry such as distribution of Christian
materials in the Russian language via internet and via postal service,
and possibly some support services.  Since Tonya has Russian
citizenship, she doesn't need a visa and is available should AGWM have
need for someone to go to Russia on any urgent business or to travel as
a translator with a short-term team.

But we are also in a time of re-evaluation of what the Lord would have
us to do.  As well as a time to deal with some health issues.  Please
pray for us to hear God's voice, deal with transition, and know His
plans and directions.

Once we get more fully settled in, we hope to send another update.  Feel
free to contact us.


The Eshelman Family

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Progress and Changes

Dear Friends,
Things are developing at the dacha project.  We had a company drill a well. 

Success!  So we have water now (as long as the generator keeps working).

This is a big deal for us.  With a stove and water, things are very close to someone being able to live there.

While the plan is still to have an outhouse (no sewage system), there will be water available for drinking, the garden, cooking, and such.  As far as the garden:  the onions, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, beets, and weeds are all growing quite well.  The berry bushes need a few more years go grow on. 
We hope to have people living on-site soon.

The purpose of the center is for young people graduating from the orphanages to have a place to live as they learn how to adjust to a normal life.  It is intended to be a safe place with plenty of supervision, programs, discipleship and work to keep them busy, healthy, and on track for a successful life.  We are working in partnership with a local Russian rehab ministry.
In the meantime, we managed to celebrate an American holiday.  No fireworks, but we did have a picnic with cake and cookout.

That's Tonya (with cake), Vera (with watermelon), a friend, and Diana (with sunglasses).

Timothy is stateside, and was able to celebrate Independence Day in America.
Cecil has been working on expanding the library at Hope Center, both bound books and the digital resources.  There continues to be a need for availability of quality Christian materials, especially at the Bible School and ministry training level.

We were also able to distribute a good number of New Testaments in Chinese at the Chinese market downtown.  Most of the Chinese workers looked at them with puzzled expressions, but one young man became very happy and excited when he realized what it was.

Now, my friends, we must mention that some changes are coming in our ministry.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for Cecil to stay in Russia.  Details have not all be worked out, but we are making plans for the family to go to North Carolina (where we own a house).  During this time more decisions will be made.  In the meantime, we are looking at selling the apartment in Khabarovsk.

Timothy is already moved into our house in North Carolina getting things ready.  He has a job, and is preparing to take some college classes in the fall as well.

Vera and Diana are spending as much time with friends as possible.

We would appreciate prayer for us as we make some evaluations and face some adjustments.

Cecil, Tonya, and the teens

Saturday, June 03, 2017

dacha progress

Dear Friends,

Cecil spent a night at the Dacha, so we know it is warm and cozy and livable.

He lit the stove...

The stove works, the outhouse is usable, the beds are soft.  Well, at least the first two are true.

And the porch is painted.

Most of our ministries are being slowed down or paused for the summer, especially with orphan outreach.  However, we hope to have ministry at the dacha begin.  Please pray for us to have good partnership with the national church in regards to this.  This is a project we've been working on for a long time.

We will be heading out for a conference and meetings with our leadership in a few days.  We should have internet, but don't expect next-day replies while we are on the road.  Some serious issues will be discussed during the conference regarding the work in Russia.  Please pray for our leadership, us, and other workers to have wisdom.  Some decisions will need to be made.


Cecil, Tonya, and the girls

P.S. Some interesting Russian photos explained

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Painting out house and ministry

Dear Friends,
The church we attend in Khabarovsk put on a concert during the city's day of memory for those who have died of AIDS.  They put out literature for passersby to take.  The event was held in a city park.  It is a good occasion to think about eternity, as well as a healthy lifestyle.  Many people would pause and listen for a while, a fair number would take information, a few would ask questions.

Our orphan outreach with game nights continues every week.  Attendance varies from 8 to 20 depending on weather, exam schedules, and such.  We get opportunities to get to know people and have both casual and spiritual conversations.  Since churches meet in this room on Sundays, it is easy to invite people to attend services since folks have already become familiar with the location. 

Movie nights continue, although attendance is down (about half a dozen on average).  Please pray for wisdom in regards to that ministry.  We need to be very careful about any advertisement or such.

Work at the dacha project for orphan graduate adaptation continues.  We are in the painting stage.  Here is our daughter Vera helping to paint the ceiling on the first floor (with her hair pulled back to keep it from becoming the new color).

Here is one of the orphan grads painting the bottom of the outhouse.  After he was done, we set it upright.  It is now ready for use!

No, there won't be running water at this center, but that is not unusual for country houses in Russia.  It is important, however, to have a good stove.  We're hoping to get that installed soon.  Please pray for that very important step, as we've been having difficulty finding someone qualified and willing to do that.  Other than the stove, a well, and putting mattresses on the beds, the center is ready for habitation.  This project has taken a bit longer to realize than we expected that it would, but it is now possible to spend the night there.

Our son Timothy continues work and study in the States.  He is doing well.

Serving in Russia,

Cecil, Tonya, and the girls

P.S.  Info for those who might travel to Khabarovsk -

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Easter & Life

Dear Friends,
Around Christmastime, Tonya felt compelled to go and visit an elderly friend of hers (we call her Aunt Polya).  When visiting, Aunt Polya complained about poor health and asked us to bury her if she died, since she didn't have any other relatives.  Tonya answered, "Don't talk about death yet, you haven't made peace with the Lord yet."  To Tonya's surprise, Aunt Polya, who never wanted to listen about God before saying, "You know I don't believe in that stuff," this time said, "I think I am ready now, how do I make peace with God?"  Angels in heaven rejoiced as Aunt Polya prayed and repented of her sins, asking God for salvation through Jesus Christ.  In February, we were told by her neighbor that she had just died.  Later, standing by her graveside after the funeral, we thought about how short our lives on earth are, and thanked the Lord for guidance from the Holy Spirit, God's salvation, and mercy.

Another loss we had in February was the loss of access to some orphanages where we used to do ministry.  We are not sure about the details, but what we know is that the ministry of education in Khabarovsk gathered all the orphanage directors and told them that the children should have no contact with our ministry organization.  So one by one the orphanage directors contacted us and apologized that they can't let us come any more.  We were not given a reason, so perhaps it is political.  Many teachers and children continue to text us, asking us to come sometime.  We also miss them.
This Sunday, our ministry team is getting together to seek the Lord.  We know that when he closes one door, there is another one being opened.  So our team of volunteers will be praying for the Lord to show us His direction.
On a brighter note, the construction of the adaptation center is going very well.  You can see in the photo below Cecil and some helpers working on the balcony. 

Now, as the construction is nearly finished, we will try to finish developing a ministry team and the adaptation program.  We request prayer for wisdom as this is a new step for our ministry.  We will be partnering with another Christian organization who will likely lead much of the day-to-day ministry there.

Russians color eggs on Easter.  Below are some kids from church with colored eggs and a special Russian Easter cake in the center.  Easter isn't always the same day in Russia as in the West.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support.

Cecil, Tonya, Vera & Diana

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cecil, gone and returned

Dear Friends,

I (Cecil) arrived back in Khabarovsk five days ago, safe and sound.  Tonya and and the girls seem to have survived without me, but it is good to see them again.  The ministry seems to also have continued just fine.  I still have a touch of jet-lag, but my days and nights are pretty much straightened out.

I am here on a visa.  That is not as good as the resident permit I had previously, but will work for now.  We'll take things one step at a time.

Tonya and the girls kept things going while I was gone.  One of the things they do is go to orphanages with crafts and spiritual lessons.  Every Saturday our team of volunteers go to an orphanage for special needs children.  These children are especially glad to see us.  They don't get out very often.   Last Saturday we told them about Jacob's ladder.  And that Jesus is our way to God.  Here they are holding their crafts that they made of Jacob's ladder.

We had a get-together with our ministry team.  It was a productive time of planning and fellowship.  Nothing can unite people more than sharing the call of God.  These are some great people we have the honor of working with.

Please pray for construction of the new ministry center.  Little progress was made while Cecil was gone.  We hope to pick things up again in April. 

A few encouraging words I read recently:

After his wife died, Dr. Albert Schweitzer continued to work in Africa till he died at the age of 90.  Overcoming innumerable difficulties, he once wrote: "One day, in my despair, I threw myself into a chair in the consulting room and groaned out: 'What a blockhead I was to come out here to doctor savages like these!' ...  Whereupon his native assistant quietly remarked: 'Yes, Doctor, here on earth you are a great blockhead, but not in heaven.'"

Please also pray for us to have wisdom in making plans.

The Eshelman Family
in Russia

Friday, March 03, 2017

New visa

Dear Friends,

I need to mention, my new visa has just been secured.

I am looking forward to getting back to my family in Russia.

A visa won't allow me to live there forever, but it does give me some time.

we have just posted our latest newsletter regarding Russia and the Eshelman family.

You can view it at

Thank you for your prayers and support!