Monday, July 14, 2014

Final Ministry before departure

Dear Friends,

right now we're trying to get ready to head back to the States for the last of our three short itinerations.  Tickets are purchased, so we fly out on the 16th of July (very soon) to the States. 

We also have a guest - Steve Garman - who is visiting and doing short term ministry.  We took him to the homeless shelter today, and he spoke at the evening gathering (with Tonya translating).  In the short time he's been here he's also gotten involved with our other ministries.  We'll end up flying out before he does, but some other workers will take care of him while we are gone. 

Please be praying for us as we make this transition: for the time adjustment, to find a place to live in the States, and for us to raise the rest of our financial support by the end of the year.  We fly out the day after tomorrow.

Cecil, Tonya, Timothy, Vera, and Diana

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Railroad trip

 Dear Friends,

we're officially on vacation.  We've gone to Siberia.  It's the first place we thought of going to.  Isn't Siberia the first place you think of as a vacation spot?  Tonya's folks live in Novokuznetsk, Siberia, which is located in the heart of Russia.  So we're spending our vacation time with them.

When our friends in the local church here saw us, they immediately asked us to help with the youth ministry.  So Cecil did one of his sermons from science: Egbert.  Egbert (the egg) leaves his church and ends up finding himself trapped in the world (the bottle); kinda like the prodigal son.  When he finally turns back to God, the Lord sets him free.  The youth loved it, and hopefully learned something from it.

 That's Joseph Bantseev (the pastor's son) translating for me in front of the teen ministry.

In a day we'll catch a train back to Khabarovsk.  It's about half way across Russia, which means four days on the the express train.  It's not relaxing on the train, but you do see a lot of countryside.  Russia is big and beautiful.

Next month we will fly back to the States to itinerate and speak in churches.  If you'd like us to come and preach, tell about missions in Russia, or show you the Eggbert trick, let us know.  We've still got a number of open dates.

Please pray for us to figure out where to live (in North Carolina) this Fall, as well as the schooling situation for the kids.  Please also pray that all our financial support will be raised by the end of the year.

Another prayer request is that we can find a new leader for our Life Skills lessons while we are Stateside.  Our previous ministry leader has started a new ministry of caring to pregnant orphan girls, and it takes up all her time. 

Jesus taught us to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the harvest field.  He sure was right when he said the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.

Cecil, Tonya, Timothy, Vera and Diana

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ministry preparation and such

Dear Friends,

the Bible school was in full swing (final test last week).  By Bible School we mean fully accredited, Master's level classes.  It's an extension of Kiev Theological Seminary and it taught in block sessions by visiting professors.  We're pretty excited about this.  While there are many Bible schools in Russia, this is the only accredited school outside of Moscow that we know of (and Moscow is almost 4,000 miles away).  All of the students here are already in some kind of ministry, and are eagerly wanting more training.

It's been a joy getting to spend time with the professors, who are staying in our home for the session.  Lessons are being taught at Hope Center.  Tonya and another translator shared the interpretation work.

After all the negative news that Russia has been getting, we're glad the teachers came to where the Lord as called them and weren't scared off by rumors of war.  Actually, the Ukraine is nowhere near us, and developments there haven't effected us.

One of our Bible School teachers also put on a seminar for children's ministry.  It was great.

Tonya also translated last month for a week-long seminar dealing with children, ministry and counseling that was taught by a visiting missionary.  It was also held at Hope Center.

And talking about translation:  Timothy spent a week translating for different seminar by a different speaker (from India) at a different location.  This seminar was held in a cafe that used to be a bar before a church took it over (can you tell from the photo that its not your typical church setting?).  Now this place is also a great hang-out place for my kids.

While all these events were going on, we had to move the Life Skills lessons to another location.  The only place we could find open was the local parks, so we went for a walk in the park.  So we held lessons out of doors.  Always a new adventure.

Please pray for the team of students planing to come to Khabarovsk and minister with us for a couple of weeks late this summer.

Please pray for us as we try to schedule churches and speaking events for the Fall and Winter.  We hope to finish up all the fundraising in one final trip.  If you know of a group that would like us to come and speak, please let us know.

As an informational note - here is a quote from Peter Deyneke Ministries' web site:

"The Russian Federation is the world’s largest country, extending across nine time zones and made up of 83 administrative districts. There are 162 different people groups in Russia speaking 135 different languages. Some 47% of these people groups are unreached by the gospel.
Almost 67% of the population identifies with the culturally strong but spiritually weak Russian Orthodox Church; millions belong to the church without believing in God. Recently, the government has become hostile towards evangelical Christians and persecution is on the rise. Islam is Russia’s fastest-growing religion.
The legacy of atheistic Communism in Russia has been the attempt to fill spiritual emptiness with wealth, addiction, sex, and other material pursuits. As a result, Russia now leads the nations in 17 different categories of human tragedy, including the suicides of children and teens, human trafficking, and the growth of HIV. Nearly a quarter of the world’s production of heroin is consumed in Russia."

The entire article can be found at

Cecil, Tonya, Timothy, Vera and Diana Eshelman


Russia's President Putin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize

Russia prepares for invading the Ukraine

Last night we had snow.  We're ready for summer (or at least springtime).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Dear Friends,

just a quick post of some good news from Russia, Diana has been issued an immigrant visa to the United States of America.  She needs to enter the States before August 10th.  Our itineration schedule would have us come back to the States in September, but we'll just have to come back a bit sooner, or something.  We'll be working this out in the days to come.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Russia, Olympics, and more

 Dear Friends,

Tonya, Diana and I are in Moscow right now.  Timothy and Vera are "holding the fort" in Khabarovsk.  The trip to Moscow is to get Diana an immigrant visa to the States.  Since she is adopted she doesn't get automatic citizenship, so it's a process.  We had to have her medical examination done here.  Tomorrow we'll be going the U.S. Embassy to present all the documents (it's quite a stack of them).  Please pray for all to go smoothly.

Our latest newsletter is posted at  When we get back to Khabarovsk we'll start the printer turning out hard copies and getting them in the mail.  We hope you enjoy them.

It seems like all eyes are on Russia right now with the Olympics going on.  We haven't had much time to watch them, but like always the athletes are amazing.  We're rooting for both America and Russia to do well.  When a game is Russia vs. U.S.A., we don't know what to do but watch.

Diana had her birthday in January.  She wanted a cookout, so we took the kids to an outdoor skating rink and the girls skated while the boys cooked dinner.  It was a good time.

We hosted an instructor who was teaching at the "House of Life" church and rehab center in Khabarovsk.  We talked her into going for a walk on the Amur River.  She's from Hawaii and this was something new for her!

Just a few days before we left on for Moscow, we had dinner with a family from Uzbekistan that is here in Khabarovsk.  It was a marvelous feast.  After we ate, they asked me to tell them what Christians believe about Jesus.  They were the most polite people.  Even through the language barrier, we had some unforgettable fellowship.

Please pray for this family that the Lord would show them The way, The truth, and The life.

Please also pray for the Life Skills groups that are ministering to the orphanage graduates.  That the young people would learn to live an abundant life. 

Also, pray for a group of American students that are making plans to come and minister with us in Khabarovsk this summer.  We ask that the Lord of the Harvest would send workers into the Harvest Field.

Cecil, Tonya, Timothy, Vera, and Diana

Monday, January 13, 2014

Balmy weather and Diana's BIG News

Dear Friends,

it's 9:30 am here, and the sun seems just about to rise.

The big, BIG, news for us is that Diana has been scheduled by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for an interview to receive an immigrant visa.  We adopted her from a Russian orphanage, so she doesn't have U.S. citizenship yet.  Several years ago we filed for her get U.S. citizenship.  After filing lots of documents and waiting (and waiting), things are moving forward.  The meeting is scheduled on February 14th, and we'll have to go to Moscow earlier to get her medical examination completed.  Right now we're working out the details.  Please pray for this trip to all come together. 

In November we fixed a Thanksgiving meal for Open Heart homeless shelter.  They have grown in numbers and in facilities.  We preached a short history lesson about the Pilgrims and why they had the first Thanksgiving. 

And then we served a meal and ate.

Vera had her 14th birthday (on the last day of the year).  She decided to take some friends roller skating at a new rink that has opened near our house.  We're not sure if she's really going to go to Valley Forge, but we know the girl in the shirt with the American flag is really a Russian.  Anyway, they all had a great time as friends.

Christmas, which in Russia is on January 7th, went well.  A local church had a special Christmas service at Hope Center, then afterward we had our game night (which we usually do on Tuesday evenings to connect with older orphans).  The folks who come for game night enjoyed the additional Christmas service, so a number of older orphans were able to hear the Christmas message.  Afterwards the folks from the church joined in the games with us.  Merry Christmas again.

We had a couple of girls who live in an orphanage spend part of the holidays with us at our place.  That's a picture of them, along with Tonya and Vera, standing behind an ice carving in the city square.  On Christmas they decided to follow Christ, and Tonya lead them in prayer in our living room.  Yes, a very good Christmas.

Life Skills lessons for orphans continue- 

A new ministry is being started by a local church.  They are starting a residential facility for unwed, pregnant women.  There isn't any kind of ministry like this in our part of Russia, so the workers have no experience, just a desire to help.  Please pray for them to have wisdom. 

Please pray for Nastia, who recently gave her heart to the Lord.  She is trying to quit smoking.  She lives in an orphanage and constantly faces temptations.

Please pray for our household organization.  We've had a lot of guests lately.

Cecil, Tonya, Timothy, Vera, and Dianna

P.S.  We hear from our cousins in Pennsylvania that some of you are getting Siberian weather lately.  Good for you!  So it was colder in Elizabethtown than in Khabarovsk for a day.  Enjoy it while it lasts!  Here's the forecast someone sent me (notice Khabarovsk at zero degrees F and E-town at minus 1 degrees!):

Friday, November 22, 2013

Back in Russia

Dear Friends,

our adjustment back to Russia has gone well.  The most wonderful discovery for us is that the ministry team here doubled the Life Skills lessons to two classes a week (younger and older) while we were gone, so we now have more orphanage students then ever before. Once again God is in charge, and we're just trying to keep up.

Ministry at Hope Center continued without us as well; which involved multiple churches and other ministries.  The Fall session of the Bible School took place in October!  The walls even got painted while we were gone, and it wasn't even our idea.  This is a very nice change from when everyone was looking to us to make the decisions and get things done.

We've got snow on the ground, too.  Definitely going to be a white Thanksgiving this year.

Please pray, we're planning on hosting a Thanksgiving feast at the homeless shelter.  There are presently 130 people living there. This is another ministry that just keeps growing.  I preached there Wednesday evening, and we had a great time together.  I was encouraged to see the work they are doing.  Anyway, we'll need more help than ever before to prepare the meal.

And, talking about the Lord of the Harvest sending workers into the harvest field, we have a group of students from Southeastern University making plans to come to Khabarovsk this summer.  We're very excited about this, since not many people come all the way from the States to minister here.  Please pray as we make plans and they start raising funds and getting passports.

Winter has come to Khabarovsk.  Russians are some of the most experienced winter drivers in the world, but here is a video from our city that might make you wonder.

Blessings From Russia,
Cecil, (Tonya, Timothy, Vera and Diana, too)

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Dear Friends,

on we have arrived back in Khabarovsk, Russia.  All went well on the flights, all our luggage arrived with us, and we feel pretty well (except for the jet-lag).  Thank you all for the prayer support.

During the landing the flight attendant made an announcement in Russian, saying, "Welcome to Khabarovsk, the weather is pleasant today with a temperature of minus 14 degrees Celsius.  We hope you have had a nice flight."

Welcome Home!  A bit of a weather change from the Carolinas.

We'll try to catch up on sleep, organize ourselves, and jump back into ministry here. We arrived on Tuesday, and yesterday (Thursday) we attended a Life Skills lesson our ministry team was leading.  They did a great job, it was so good to see how the ministry has continued without us. 

Russians are some of the most experienced winter drivers in the world, but here is a video from our city.

Blessings From Russia,
Cecil, Tonya, Timothy, Vera and Diana