In 1991, Estonia gained its independence after years under communist rule. Nearly two decades later, Estonian churches were still learning how to reframe their ministries with their new independence and rapidly changing culture.
Kolgata Kogudus (Calvary Church) was among the many churches preparing to reach the next generation with the Gospel. These youth grew up in a very different culture than the generations before them, and the way to reach them had changed.
They asked for a team from the States who could help them start a new method of outreach, a youth camp. Crick and Mindy led a short-term team to come alongside the local church and youth leaders to launch a series of camps designed to engage youth and share the gospel.
These camps continued and grew year after year. Each year a new group of young men and women would hear the gospel and commit their lives to Christ.
One year, a 16-year-old woman came to the camp from a small village in south Estonia. Sofia (name changed) heard the gospel presented and knew she had to give her life to Jesus. After her decision and a week of discipleship at camp, she returned home.
As she walked around her village, reflecting on the week before, reality sunk in. There were no other Christians in her village. Sofia was 16, and she was the sole bearer of the gospel in her community. She prayed for the families in her community, that they would come to know God as she did. She prayed about her role in her village, that she could be bold in sharing her faith. She prayed about ways she could be a light in her community.
While Sofia began finding ways to engage more in her community, Crick and Mindy had made the decision to move to South Estonia. They continued their partnership with Calvary Church and the summer camps. After a few summers, the school in Sofia’s village contacted Crick and Mindy. The principal asked if they would be willing to be guest speakers at their upcoming recycling camp. They were looking for someone who could share a “soul-cleansing” message.
They jumped at the opportunity and worked with Sofia to prepare the message. As they prepared for the day, the three of them decided to bring some Estonian language Bibles with them to offer to any interested kids.
At the camp, Sofia shared the testimony of how God had come into her life, cleansed her soul, and transformed her heart. She told the students about how this was possible for them too.
After her message, she said she had brought a gift for anyone who wanted it. It was a free gift, and it would help them understand more about this heart transformation and about God. Anyone who wanted one, could take a Bible. Kids came up, one after the other, to take a Bible until every student had taken one. When they had all left, 33 Bibles had gone out, and only one remained. They started to pack it up, when the principal approached them and asked if he could have one to put in the school library.
In one day, the Word of God had made it into every home in Sofia’s village. They praised God for this opportunity and for His incredible planning.
As they returned home to Tartu, celebrating that the Gospel had reached this small village, they thought of the many villages still waiting. How many villages had only one young believer? How many had none?
The Poriers began to dream about how they could help reach these small communities. How could they train these young leaders and create opportunities for the Gospel to be shared? From this, the South Estonia Outreach Project was born. Crick and Mindy alongside four Estonian leaders are partnering together to bring the Gospel into these small communities, to train young leaders in sharing their faith, and to create plans for evangelism and discipleship.
In October 2021, at a South Estonia pastors’ conference, Converge leaders and Estonia pastors prayed together and commissioned this new ministry. They are preparing for God to work in incredible ways throughout South Estonia, and they need more people who can join them in this work.
The South Estonia Outreach Project is looking for more people in love with the Lord, passionate about partnership, and excited to bring the Gospel to the least-reached people of Estonia.
How is God leading you to reach communities that have no access to the Gospel? How is He preparing you to help reach the least-reached?
Learn more about the South Estonia Outreach Project
Hanson Story Team
Peter and Heather Hanson
© 2020 Hanson Story Team
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