Michael on September 1st, 2013

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.

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Michael on December 21st, 2018

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

Michael on July 30th, 2018

Well, I’m in the middle of a grand tour. Over a week ago I left Estonia, driving south for three days to Montenegro. My time there was excellent and full of life. I spoke at the Word of God Evangelical Church in Podgorica and had great fellowship with family, friends and ministry partners. It would have been nice to have more time and hopefully Olga, Val and I will visit next year.

Then I drove to visit friends in Serbia and a few days ago arrived in Sighișoara, Romania (in the heart of Transylvania, above). Yesterday was a full and joyful day. I spoke at three churches (one Romanian and two gypsy/Hungarian) and felt that the Lord encouraged and comforted many people. It’s gratifying to return to minister in fellowships, to see familiar faces. Last year I was here with a team that prayed for many people. Last night a man told me how much that blessed him and prepared him for the year.

Here is my view at one of the village churches last night, just before I spoke:

This week I’ll have other meetings and on Friday or Saturday I will drive to Odessa, Ukraine in preparation for our Stoneworks conference next week, where we will welcome over 30 adults and about 20 children.

One lesson that continues to resonate with me: if anyone wants to be fit for service in the Kingdom of God, they can not put their hand to the plow and look back.

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Michael on July 7th, 2018

Each year near to her birthday we take a picture of Valerie in the same dress, one of Olga’s. I got this idea from Life magazine years ago. It’s fun to watch her grow up:

 

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4th Birthday:

Val-4th

5th Birthday:

Val-5th Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael on July 6th, 2018

A friend recently wrote:

“We are learning to be Christians who live in America without becoming Americans who happen to be Christians.”

 

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Michael on July 3rd, 2018

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

The worldwide human population in the year AD 1 was just 170 million people. That’s less than half the current population of the USA!

  • 1000 AD: 250 million
  • 1400 AD: 343 million
  • 1600 AD: 538 million
  • 1800 AD: 1 billion
  • 1900 AD: 1.6 billion
  • 2000 AD: 6.1 billion (!)

Worth watching:

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Michael on June 29th, 2018

Three pastors from DR Congo are visiting Sam’s church, teaching and preaching. These men are all dear friends, and I’m very glad that I can play a small role in helping them do what God is calling them to do.

Above are pastors Maskote, Bethuel, Jeremy, Sam and Damiri. Here is a quick report from Damiri:

We’ve had a great time today at the conférence. Pastor Bethuel is Teaching about Discipleship, Pastor Jeremy is teaching on Discernment, Pastor Maskote is teaching on Fellowship and I am doing Leadership. The attendance increased today and mostly pastors and church leaders. We love it.

This is a blessing for us, to be given an opportunity like this, builds us in our faith, and we come to understand that we have something very much needed elsewhere that we can share. May God bless each one that contributed to make this possible. We are very grateful.

UPDATE: Damiri sent this after the conference was over:

We are very very grateful for giving us an opportunity to minister. We had a great time ministering and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Fortportal. I have a sense that this door is not only open to Spring of Life church but to the surrounding areas as well.

The number of ministers increased, and testimonies from the attendants were powerful. Like one old man called his wife up front and asked for forgiveness to his wife and his whole family for mistreating them. He learned from the teachings that he must have a good relationship with his family. There were healings and some youth accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior.

The need for teachings is still highly needed.

I think God opened this door not only for Pastor Sam, many more ministers have benefited.

Glory be to God. Each and every one in the team says Thank you and may God bless you more for the finances and prayers for this work to be done.

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Michael on June 23rd, 2018

As you can see, Val and Miki are having a good time. We’re all doing well, having enjoyed the early part of summer (we’re getting a lot of work done at dacha) and just now entering the busiest time for us. We have friends from the USA visiting, and it’s been good to welcome them and show them the city, which is full of life because of the World Cup. We’ve never seen so many different nationalities on the streets. The city is festive.

Soon we’ll go to Estonia; Val will attend a children’s camp and then we’ll meet a team from the USA that will run an English camp. Then I head south for a ministry trip. I’m still praying to discern where I should go, but I know I’ll end up in Romania for a week and then go to Odessa, Ukraine for our Stoneworks conference. I may also visit Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. Prayers are appreciated as we discern how and where we’re to spend our time.

Michael on June 14th, 2018

I’ve been pondering this from James:

. . . the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. . .

There is a difference between testing and tempting. The Lord allows our faith to be tested. He wants us to pass the test; He will give us the grace to pass the test. He never tempts us toward evil.

A Tempter wants us to fail. A Tester wants us to succeed.

Our trials, our battles against sin, are allowed so that we’ll be complete, mature. The important point is that we need to let perseverance have it’s full effect, allowing hardships to do their work in us, considering them as discipline from a loving Father so that we’ll share in His nature (see Hebrews 12).

When hard situations arise, I often pray, ‘Lord, let this difficulty do it’s work in me so that I’ll be a better disciple and love you more.’ Rather than avoid the hardship, I submit and allow perseverance do its work — this is my goal.

So, press on and let these difficult situations, these pressures and hardships, form the image of Christ more deeply in your heart.

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Michael on April 19th, 2018

While in Congo, I introduced the church to Sawyer water filters, the type I learned about last year during my visit to Tanzania. One of my favorite memories is of meeting with several pastors, showing them how well the filters work. They were all very impressed. I had only four filters with me.

Damiri Paluku, one of the lead pastors in Congo, told me that typhoid fever is a very big problem in the villages. They have no medical care, no doctors or medicine, therefore many, many people die from typhus. These filters removed typhus from the water, and Damiri said that many lives will be saved by giving people clean water.

Through the generous donations of two families in the USA, we recently sent 70 filter kits to Congo. Each kit contains the filter as well as a ‘bucket kit’ that allows the filter to be installed on a bucket. We are also purchasing buckets.

When Damiri learned we’d send 70 filters he wrote, “Wow! Praise God! All our churches will be covered!!! That is like paying thousands of dollars for medical bills! May God bless you very much. This is saving many lives. Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael on April 17th, 2018

Quickly –

We have a lot going on in Stoneworks. You can see our most recent update here.

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