Finland Easter Outreach 2023
I first went to Finland in 2019, only for a weekend to visit my pastor friend, Shaun Rossi, and to preach at his church. I was excited to have a chance to return this Spring to help with an Easter outreach planned to help the church impact their community.
Easter isn’t a big time for Fins to go to church. It is the beginning of Spring and often is a time for family to gather at a summer house, preparing it for the coming season. Unlike in America, this isn’t a common time for people to pay homage to a home church. It is not a “high attendance” time, even for believers. Shaun wants to change that at United Community Church in Espoo, just outside of Helsinki.
I was joined on the outreach team by my friends Richard and Rachel Sharp from Atlanta, and their friend Heidi. Also on the team were my good friends Gary and Helena Witherall and their entire family from Germany, Jack Witherall from Plymouth, England, and John Avant and Kevin McMillan from Life Action in the USA.
Several people from the church joined us each day as we went out to the community to share the gospel. Richard led the evangelism training and John gave a devotional each day. I led one group on Friday and Saturday and Richard led the other group. What a great time we had walking through the mall, meeting people and sharing the good news about Jesus.
In addition to sharing in the community each day, the church hosted a Good Friday service one night and then a Christian rap concert on Saturday night. Two very different opportunities to tell the story of the cross and the empty tomb.
Easter Sunday morning worship was a great time. The church was FULL. We had to add about 30 chairs at the back as the service began because people kept coming. I think there were only about 10 empty chairs in the whole place! Two students prayed to receive Christ after the service that morning. There was a light lunch and then an Easter Egg hunt and festival outside. What a great time to get to introduce families to the church!
On Monday we took a ferry to Tallinn, Estonia, directly south of Helsinki, to meet a church planter named Isaac from Uganda. We spent our afternoon there in Freedom Square talking to people about Jesus. That evening Kevin and I had great burgers for dinner! The next morning Kevin and I visited a couple of antique stores in Estonia where I picked up a New Testament and a hymnal written in Estonian. They were each over 100 years old. Very cool find. Kevin bought some soviet era military items. We took the ferry back to Helsinki in the afternoon and had an early night in the room.
I spent Wednesday morning with pastor Shaun going to a National Forest and then the afternoon with Mark. Mark and I met up with Johanni, a pastor/church planter who is trying to plant a church in a mostly muslim and immigrant area of Helsinki. We shared the gospel and did what we could to encourage the man who, with his family, is living on the edge with the gospel. I have such respect for those who are giving their all to build the kingdom, sacrificing so much to reach the lost.
There are several prayer requests to share with you:
– Those we shared the gospel with: Jerry, Ina, Ellen, Sebastian, Ragnar, a Nepalese family, several students skating in Freedom Square, and many others.
– Those ministering on the edge: Isaac, Johanni, Jako, Mark, Emily, Gabe, Shaun, Marko, and more.
– I had some great conversations about the opportunity to take teams to Paris for the 2024 Olympics next July-August. Pray for these contacts and those who will follow the Lord to come to Paris.