The camp of the Lutheran Church of Estonia, Talu, is located in Saku twenty kilometers away from Tallinn, the capital city. Talu is Estonian and means a ’farmhouse’. And we actually saw cows and horses grazing around the camp. Hens were pecking for food on the yard, and our little daughter was allowed to collect their eggs. The April sun was shining so warmly that the people who had gathered at Talu for a Bible study course decided to keep some of the lessons outdoors.
Groups of students worked to find answers to questions pertaining to the events of Via Dolorosa, the road along which Jesus walked toward Golgotha carrying His cross. We found this way of working useful. Each group included at least one translator, possibly also one speaker, and local people from different parts of Estonia. After the group work session the groups shared their thoughts on the content of the Bible portion they had studied. We thus ended up with an overall understanding of what had happened on Via Dolorosa. Color photos and a map of Israel helped us locate the events geographically.
The Sunday service further illustrated the Easter time events. Student feedback included positive comments on the way the group assignments complemented the content of the sermon.
Religion is not taught as a subject in Estonian schools, and many people and whole families lost their contact with the church during the Soviet era. Traveling in the Estonian countryside, it is quite touching to see a white-washed stone church with a weathercock or a cross on the roof in the middle of every small village. Many of these churches have seats for hundreds of people, which shows that Estonia used to be a truly religious country.
When doing mission work in Estonia, we need to be aware that not all listeners are familiar with the names of church holidays or the people of the Bible. It is good to study portions of the Bible slowly and simply – by reading, explaining and discussing. People may also be unwilling show their ignorance by asking questions, and it is always easier to ask or wonder about things in small groups. Yet, there are also people who have participated in the activities of a church or a Laestadian association for a long time and know their Bible well. In that way we can all learn from each other.
The annual course for mission work translators has already been arranged four times, and we now met in Saku for the second time. It was both easy and natural to study Estonian in Estonia together with the other speakers and translators. The course also allowed Estonian believers to meet each other and their Finnish friends. There was a bus to pick up people from Tartu and Tallinn and anywhere on the way.
Although we tire and seem to lose motivation in mission work, such courses give us new hope. There is light, there is hope, there is love. There is an interest in God’s word. We hope and pray that even more people in Estonia might become interested in God’s word. While living in Estonia for one year, I have often thought that the human heart is restless until it finds rest in God. I am sure each person’s deepest desire is to find rest – and that is possible even today.
Text: Elina Heikkilä-Kopperoinen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original finnish blog post here.
Raamatun mukaan jokainen Jumalan valtakunnan jäsen on avoin lähetyskirje omassa toimintaympäristössään (2. Kor. 3:2–3). Tämä asia voi olla kipupiste uskovaiselle ihmiselle, sillä henkilökohtaisesta uskosta puhumiselle on korkea kynnys nyky-yhteiskunnassa.