10 March 2002 -- Tallinn, Estonia
Singing, "There's one way to peace through the power of the cross!
HIS BANNER OVER US IS LOVE!"
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ, friends and family ...
We, Ron & Judy, send our love and greetings to each of you. Our prayer is that He will continue to lead each one of us in triumphal procession in Christ. May His banner of love always wave over us like the flag of heaven as we journey through our lives ... serving and loving others because He loved us first!
THE FLAG OF ESTONIA .
On February 24th blue, white, and black flags flew all over Tallinn and the entire country celebrating the 84th birthday of the Republic of Estonia. Even though the country found itself under the occupation of the Soviet Union from 1944 until August 20, 1991, Independence Day dating back to February 24, 1918 was still very much in the mind of the Estonians. Now it continues to be openly celebrated with as much enthusiasm as we celebrate the 4th of July. Also, Estonians carried their flag in the parade of nations at the Salt Lake City Olympics. Estonia's cross country skiers came home with two gold medals and one bronze. (Maybe you remember that an Estonian won the Decathalon gold medal in the most recent summer olympics.)
GOD'S FLAG OF LOVE .
Within the church in Tallinn the banner of love in our Father's kingdom continues to unite Estonians, Russians, Canadians and Americans as we all pray for one another ... and learn to love one another more deeply. In February our baby brother (or sister) congregation in Tartu came to worship with us in Tallinn. Approximately, one year ago the church in Granbury, Texas, sent two missionary couples to teach and work with the babes in this city. For more than a year before the arrival of the permanent missionaries Mike Banks (and we when Mike could not go) drove to and from (5 hours round trip) Tartu each Sunday to lead worship. On the 17th of February the churches of Tallinn and Tartu joined together for worship. Dennis and Gayla Hofschield and Eric and Kim Cimuchowski brought two cars full of Tartu members (plus 4 or 5 came on the bus) to worship with the Tallinn church. (Actually, Eric stayed behind to lead services in Tartu.) The Tallinn church prepared a Fellowship Meal that was enjoyed by all before the Tartu group returned home. It was a wonderful day of shared love in the Lord.
As the group departed, our Tallinn youth extended an invitation to the youth of the Tartu congregation to return the weekend of March 8-10 for the "First Ever Church of Christ Youth Rally in Estonia!" The Rally was held this weekend. It was planned and conducted almost entirely by our young people themselves. We adults stood at the ready to help in any way we could, but John (3 John 4) describes what we adults felt all through the weekend, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Eric (Cimuchowski) of Tartu was invited to be the guest speaker. There were 11 from Tartu who came for the weekend! More than 40 teens attended Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning.
"There's one way to peace through the power of the cross" was chosen as one part of our March newsletter's theme because it describes what is happening in the church in Estonia. It is a progressive story and we will use a university freshman and sister-in-Christ from Tartu as an excellent illustration. She is Estonian and speaks Estonian and English (very well). When she came with the group to Tallinn in February and was invited to return for the Youth Rally, she was heard to say: "Why would I want to come back? Most of the young people in Tallinn are Russian and they won't speak Estonian to me. I don't want to speak Russian. I don't want to hear Russian. What fun would a weekend be with so many Russians?"
(Now, by way of explanation, when we came to Tallinn 6 years ago, the church numbered about 30 on Sunday mornings. Even at that time the majority of members were Russian with about 15 percent of the membership being Estonian. Translation in both languages has always been provided. We prayed--as did many others--that the gospel seeds planted in the hearts of both Estonians and Russians would grow and bring many into the Kingdom of God. Our prayer has, and is being answered. There were 81 in Bible Class and worship this morning! There has been growth in numbers and hearts have been changed. The Lord has brought both ethnic/language groups into His family; but it seems that in Tallinn during the past 6 years the Russian hearts have been more receptive. God has grown the church in about the same ratio as in the early days: 85% Russian speaking, 15% Estonian speaking. But under God's Banner of Love there is unity and harmony between the two; whereas, in the world there is much prejudice. Within the church deep friendships have been made over the years between Estonians and Russians. We thank our Savior that "what is impossible with man, is possible with God.")
Now the Youth Rally this weekend . All the teens who came from Tartu were Estonian. Four of the teens from Tallinn were Estonian, the rest Russian. We watched and waited to see what would happen by the end of the weekend. Friday night Peeter (15 yrs., Estonian, Tallinn) led singing using the overhead projector he borrowed from his school. Most of the songs were sung in English, then in Estonian, then in Russian. Eric spoke encouraging all to think of the church as their "safe place" in a world where they are all aliens because of their Christianity. "Find your friendships here where you may have very little in common according to the world, but where you have everything in common in God's family." Of the 40 teens present no more than 2 attend the same school, so all of them are truly strangers in their own world or school environment. After the lesson, the main room was transformed into a Coffee House. It was also International Womens' Day which is celebrated with great enthusiasm out here. The young men served the girls, bringing them hot chocolate, ice cream floats, cappuchino, tea ... and flowers for each girl! We watched as Estonian boys gave flowers to Russian girls who thanked them in Estonian. Russian boys presented flowers to Estonian girls and greeted them in Estonian. One young man who said his Estonian was not very good said he spoke Finnish (which is a cousin to Estonian)!
Sunday after worship when it was time to leave, guess who was the last from Tartu to leave the building. You guessed it! It was the very same girl who said she couldn't imagine how it could be fun with so many Russians. She said she had a wonderful time . and she said she had a great idea about how to plan an event so all the teens from Tallinn could come to Tartu for a Christian Youth Rally there! She hugged necks -- Russian, Estonian, Canadian, and American. She put on her coat while all the other Tartu people were waiting for her in the cars. She started out the door and came back to hug everyone one more time! Love is the banner that flies over us all! It changes hearts ... and we pray that in time the Christians in Estonia will change even the attitudes of those around them who are not in church families.
Please give thanks with us to God for Peeter, Anya, Stanley, Jaime, Eric, Leah and Amy (our Canadian co-workers) and for so many others who worked behind the scenes to make this first Youth Rally a wonderful success. God truly answered our prayers and gave blessings to each one involved. (See attached photos of preparations. It was too dark for the digicam during the actual rally. Maybe we can scan and send later.)
THE FLAG OF PRAYER .
GERT KASE: Several weeks ago our brother-in-Christ, 26 year old Gert had complete kidney failure. He cannot take dialysis because of other health problems. He is being given alternative treatment until a suitable transplant can be found. Gert's sister is Kerli who is now 20 years old and studying law through Tartu University. Many of you who have been to camp will remember Kerli, one of our Estonian Jr. Counselors. Gert and Kerli are now with us on Sunday mornings whenever possible. Please join us in praying for Gert -- may a kidney be found for him and may his body accept the transplant so that his health may be fully restored. (Photos of Gert plus one of his parents with Kerli are attached.)
CHARACTER FOR KIDS SEMINARS: Charles Landreth is here from the U.S. now. His wife will arrive on Thursday and the rest of his team on Friday. Our sister Eve Enok has set-up a group of approximately 20 Estonian teachers for a week-long "Character for Kids" seminar March 18-22. Our sister Kate Gridneva is putting together a group of approximately 20 Russian teachers for the March 25-29 seminar. Please join us in prayer for all these teachers, the majority of whom are not Christians. May the seeds planted by Charles and his team find their way into hearts ready to respond to the gospel. We sincerely thank Eastern European Mission (EEM) and those of you have given to help their work for the workbooks for each teacher. You and they have given. Charles and his team, Eve and Kate will cultivate the soil and plant the seeds. And we in the church in Tallinn are ready to meet, greet, and welcome those who come into our local and loving family of God!
In CLOSING, even though we would like to write with John "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face ..." However, because we have not been able to find a window of time big enough to visit all our supporting churches and family in January, February, or March as we have done in years past (and, because between April and the end of August we will be busy, busy), we plan--Lord willing--to come to visit you and talk face to face in September. Until then, please keep us in your prayers in the same way Paul requested the Colossians, "Pray that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ .... Pray that we may proclaim it clearly!"
In CLOSING we will pray the words of Paul for you, "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
We love you all in the Lord! We miss you!
Ron & Judy
Ron & Judy Warpole
74001 Harju Maakond
Viimsi Vald, Priimula 3
Tallinn, Estonia (Europe)
Phone from USA: 011-372-601-1437
By Ron and Judy Warpole | EUROPE | Estonia