My April 2023 Mission to Wales and Switzerland

April 26, 2023

tims blog

This letter is fairly long, so here are some bookmarks.

Part 1: The Getting My Passport Blues

Part 2: Keeping in step with Step By Step in Wales

Part 3: An Ordination in Switzerland


The Getting My Passport Blues

This is the first time I am sending you a mission report without having notified you ahead of time where I was going. This is because I was not entirely sure I’d be making the trip until about 15 hours before I boarded the plane. It all started when I returned from Africa last October and I learned that my passport (which was valid until December 2024) did not have enough empty pages to be used any further, and I needed to get a new one. I mailed in my application in mid-January, and checked the postal tracking number every day to see if it had arrived at its destination. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I called the Post Office and was told that my parcel was lost and a search to find it was underway. Eventually, I called the National Passport Agency’s customer service to ask about submitting a new application. They told me my application had actually been received – the tracking system just wasn’t working. I upgraded my order to “expedited service” to insure special handling.

In February I was notified by mail that my photo was not accepted because I was wearing glasses (just as in all my previous passport photos). I re-read the instructions and sure enough, this was my mistake. I quickly sent in a new photo. Then in March I was notified that my new photo was also rejected for insufficient color quality. I paid for a “professional” photo and sent it in again.

By this time, I had accepted an invitation to go to Wales for Easter and to Switzerland afterwards, and I had purchased non-refundable tickets for me and my wife, Nelly. I started feeling very nervous about whether my passport would arrive on time. I checked the progress report on the official website several times a day but nothing ever changed. With a little over two weeks to go before my departure date, I decided to call customer service at the passport office again. Incredibly, there is only ONE number for all the USA. I got nothing but busy signals until late afternoon. An automated voice informed me that there’d be a 90-minute wait for the next representative so I chose the “call-back” option. That call came at 11:45 PM. The representative had no information about the status of my application, but told me that if I did not receive my new passport within five days of my flight, I could call again to make an appointment for one-day service in New Orleans. I assured my hosts in Wales and Switzerland that this one-day service was my safety net.

With five days to go, I again called the agency and again, it took hours to get through. This time I did NOT choose the call-back option and stayed on-hold for 90 minutes waiting to be connected to a real person. She walked me through the procedures for the New Orleans office, but when it was time to set my appointment, she said there were NONE available before my flight date. Waiting in line was not an option – there was no “walk-in” service. I asked if I could drive to the passport office in Houston (about four hours away), and she said there were no appointments there either. I would have to wait and see if my new passport arrived in the mail. I was NOT feeling optimistic.

Later that day my friend Jeff told me that his brother had faced a similar time-crunch regarding getting a new passport and that his state Senator had helped him secure an appointment with the passport agency. This seemed an unlikely solution to me, but while we were still chatting, I received a phone call from another friend giving me the exact same advice! I made the call, and to my great surprise, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy answered the phone himself. He emailed me some forms to fill out and within an hour, I had an appointment in New Orleans for 9:00 AM Tuesday morning, the day before my scheduled departure. The Red (Tape) Sea had parted!

On Tuesday morning, my daughter drove with me to New Orleans. We left Baton Rouge at 6:45 AM, plenty of time for what should have been a 90-minute drive. But outside New Orleans we got stuck in traffic and once inside it, because of diversions due to road construction, we got completely turned-around. The clock was ticking and I did NOT want to miss my appointment! We decided to just park the car and ask for help. Amazingly, we were in the correct building and just a few floors away from the Passport Agency office! We entered the doors at 8:59.

The line was already long, and a steady flow of applicants continued to stream into the room. I handed in my paperwork and was told to remain seated until my name was called. As time passed, we watched one person after the other collect their new passport. Four hours later, my daughter and I were the only people left in the waiting room. The person who received my paperwork was no longer at her station. I asked another worker the reason for the delay. He found my application under a pile of papers. Finally it was attended to, and a few minutes before closing time, I walked out with my new passport in my hand.

By the time I got home, I barely had time to let my church and my hosts in Wales and Switzerland know that Nelly and I were on our way. 

Keeping in Step with Step by Step

I first met Carl and Vivienne Roberts in the spring of 2000 in Cornwall, England, where I was teaching a class on spiritual gifts. Neither one was enrolled in that class, but I had the honor of baptizing them both. God’s intimate understanding of their desire for truth was made known through a remarkable prophecy that I wrote about in my book In the Power of His Might (you can download a free copy of that book HERE. The story I am referring to is on pages 173-174). Later that same year they attended my class in Cardigan, Wales, and Carl assisted me in the baptism ceremony. In 2004, I ordained Carl to the Christian ministry. In the years that followed, our paths crossed a few times more but for the most part, our ministries took us in different directions. As a teacher, my gift and calling is most evident in a classroom setting. Carl is a pastor with a special gift for the retrieval and care of God’s lost sheep. The ministry founded by Carl and his wife, Step by Step, specializes in helping broken people find wholeness through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the therapeutic joy of a good day’s work. As their website says, “Step by Step (Wales) is a Christian charity based in Swansea, South Wales that works to help people with backgrounds of addiction, mental health issues, learning difficulties, people who are reliant on state benefits or individuals who just need a bit of help and support.” Step by Step has impacted many lives, and has a sterling reputation amongst the people of Swansea, Christian and non-Christian alike.  

In early 2020, I happily accepted Carl’s invitation to minister in his church but a global lockdown spoiled our plans. When the door opened just wide enough for me to squeeze through, I jumped at the chance to make the trip. As you can imagine, all the troubles I had getting my passport left me wondering if I was following the Lord or my own desire. My small mind can find it difficult to differentiate between a door closed by God and a hindrance from Satan.

Acts 16:7
After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia:
but the Spirit suffered them not.

1 Thessalonians 2:18
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again;
but Satan hindered us.

In the end, all the guidance we ever need is found in Proverbs 3:5-6:

3 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
4 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Initially, Carl invited me to teach on The Passion Week over Easter weekend and I spent a few joyful months reviewing my class material, all the while seeing things I’d never seen before. But as the time drew closer, Carl felt that our time together in Wales would be better used away from the strict demands of a classroom event. He asked me to help him dedicate a new Step by Step facility on Easter Saturday, to teach Easter Sunday morning at his church, and to spend the rest of the time simply enjoying the fellowship of being together.  I was a little disappointed – nothing in life gives me more pleasure than teaching the Word of God – but it was the right decision, and that is what we did. As I am sure Nelly would attest, we had a very fruitful visit with Carl and Viv.

The Dedication at St Helens Road

On Saturday 8 April, the four of us joined everyone who came along for the dedication of the building and the work that is commencing at St Helens Road in Swansea. This three-story building was anonymously donated to Step by Step for their mission work. Carl envisions it as a place of refuge for the lost souls who wander this neighborhood.

Carl began by talking about the history of Step by Step and our fateful meeting in Cornwall. My sharing revolved around two scriptures: Ecclesiastes 4:1 and Psalm 63:7:

Most of us realize the vast difference between first world and third world problems. A first world problem is finding a brand of bottled water that is eco-friendly and influencer-approved. A third world problem is finding water that is safe to drink. Likewise, there is also a huge difference between the problems facing the saved and the unsaved. There is no state of desperation comparable to being without God and without hope in a world ruled by oppressors; where there is no comfort to be found, and the only chance for relief is to deaden yourself to the pain with alcohol, opiates, or mindless sex. That is what Ecclesiastes 4:1 is talking about.

Ecclesiastes 4:1
So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

But no matter what problems face a Christian, the solution is always a breath away. Every Christian problem is a faith problem, and the remedy for every problem is to trust God. We find help “in the shadow of thy wings.”

Psalms 63:7
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

We can promise the same help to everyone who believes on the name of Jesus. (Click HERE for a sermon I wrote entitled “Under the Shadow of Thy Wings”).

Nelly and I were honored to participate in this dedication. Please keep this work in your prayers. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38).

Easter Sunday with Grace and Truth

Many of the same people who attended the dedication were with us in church the next morning. Carl’s church operates under a different name than his ministry of helps – it is called Grace and Truth Church. When our friends Evan and Wendy visited this church last September, they came home raving about the fine quality of the congregation. They were right. In all my years as a Christian, I have never heard such beautiful prayers.

For my Easter message, I toyed with the idea of cramming all 14 sessions of The Passion Week into one morning sermon. But I came to my right mind and instead I taught a lesson that I wrote just before we left for Wales on the Incarnate Word. Yes, Jesus is the Word that was made flesh. But what was he before he was made flesh? Does he still dwell in that same flesh? The four gospels focus on the 33 years Jesus was “found in fashion as a man” (Phil. 2:1), “the days of his flesh” (Heb. 5:7). We need the rest of the Bible to get a complete picture of the eternal Son of God. You can find that sermon presented on PowerPoint HERE.

There is much more I’d like to share about our time in Wales, but I will leave the rest to my photo page.

An Ordination in Switzerland

I first met Alois Eggmann and his wife Regina in a class I presented in Thessaloniki, Greece, in the summer of 1998, and we have been friends ever since. I’ve been a guest in their home in Siselen, Switzerland on several occasions, either alone or with Nelly, and once with our entire family. Alois has been a great help to my ministry over the years, and I have long believed that if the kind of messages I’ve been appointed to teach were ever to take root in Switzerland, they would have to come through the ministry of a man like Alois. To me, that is the essence of 2 Timothy 2:2:

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

You cannot lead people without knowing their tendencies. Alois has a special gift for leading people, and in particular, Swiss people. So when he joined me in 2019 on a teaching mission at the Nepal Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kathmandu, Nepal, I asked him to pray about accepting an ordination. When the opportunity arose for me to come to Siselen after ministering in Wales, I asked him again, and this time he accepted.

Alois and I are convinced that the time is very short before Jesus returns to usher his bride into eternity. Why should he accept an ordination at this late point in time? Only because we both believe it is God’s will. And so, on Monday 17 April, before the company of witnesses that comprise his church group, I had the honor of performing an ordination ceremony for my fellow-soldier and friend. (If you would like to learn more about this, you can view my message on The Ordination of an Elder HERE.)

Nelly and I had a short but very blessed time in Switzerland. Once again, what remains to be told I will leave to my photos.

A word of apology and thanks

Each time I go out on a mission, I am keenly aware of the people whose financial support helped make the trip possible. I also covet your prayers for the success of such a venture. For this reason, I am truly sorry that I did not send you my usual letter of intention before embarking on this trip. But as I wrote earlier, I simply was not sure I was making the trip until it was almost time to leave. I will do better next time – if, God willing, there is a next time!

Many, many thanks to Rev. and Mrs. Carl Roberts for their kindness and generosity in hosting Nelly and me in Wales. Special love to Grace and Truth church, and everyone who participates in Step by Step ministry. Also, great thanks to Rev. and Mrs. Alois Eggmann for hosting us in Switzerland, and for sharing your lives with us. May God continue to shower his blessings on you, and cause your church to grow and grow.

Finally, Nelly and I want to thank Tresa Bucher for the wonderful day we spent with her in Walenstadt.

In the Service of His Majesty, the King of kings,
Tim Sullivan


This letter contains links to:

The Step By Step (Wales) website

My ebook about the spiritual gifts, In the Power of His Might

Sermon: Under the Shadow of Thy Wings

Sermons on PowerPoint: The Incarnate Word and The Ordination of An Elder

PHOTOS from Wales and Switzerland


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