HERALD INTERNATIONAL (Printing In Over Twenty Languages)
Bearing Fruit Through The Finnish Herald
Airut – the Finnish Herald of His Coming – had its birth in the cold, snowy countryside of Finland in 1965. Aune Lehtisalo, whom God chose to extend the Herald of His Coming message into Scandinavia, had not even a typewriter, but with pencil and paper in hand and with a deep burden for revival in her heart, she translated Herald messages into Finnish and the first printing of 3,000 copies was made. As time passed, God added an office, additional workers, equipment, and funds. He raised up faithful prayer and financial partners so regular monthly editions were soon in print. Sister Aune served for over twenty years with great devotion and with the enabling of God until He called her above in 1989.
During the ensuing years there have been changes of personnel, location and methods of working, and changes in society in general as well, but Airut continues to regularly call readers to pray for revival and to be watching and ready for the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the past twelve years, Seppo Niemelä has given leadership under God to the Finnish Herald ministry. Sister Kylli Niemelä of the Finnish Herald office, daughter of Seppo, gives us a glimpse into the atmosphere in which the Finnish Herald ministers today:
Kylli tells us that the common Finnish attitude toward God is that religion is a private matter. This is true even in believing families. One-hundred years ago the whole nation belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church except some small minority groups. Today families rarely go to church and this includes young people. However, more than ninety percent of 15-year-olds participate in the confirmation camps of the Evangelical Lutheran Church every year. Here the young people are taught the basics of Christianity in a deeper way than at religion classes in the elementary school.
Kylli urges us to pray for the confirmation classes and for the young people in the years which follow that instruction. Youth work often concentrates more on the social and not so much on teaching the Bible.
There is currently concern about economic depression and unemployment in Finland. During the last Finnish recession in the 1990’s, the social work of the church was needed and it grew. And more than that, many became interested in God and the church, because God touched their lives through the financial hardships. Even many church workers found a living relationship with Jesus through this time.
About the year 2000 prosperity and material well-being returned, but with it came new problems. Little children and school children are showing signs of psychological problems and depression. In the schools there is increasing violence. Killings at schools have happened the last few years, and recently there was a shooting with deaths resulting at a shopping mall. So we see some of the atmosphere that challenges those ministering today in Finland.
Concerning the Airut Ministry
Kylli writes: "Last year we were able to print ten issues of Airut (8,000 copies each). We pray and strive so that the message in the paper would bear the fruit that God wants. We have a number of subscribers that are ageing, though. We enjoy their sweet intercession and encouraging letters and phone calls. We have a special joy of reaching young adults, too, who get advice on how to live as a Christian through Airut articles. We have updated our internet version of Airut when possible, but there is yet a great need for this since especially younger people get to know Airut through the internet.
"A short time ago a young man visited us to take some issues of Airut to his home town. Afterwards he called us joyfully to tell about the area where he had delivered them. Shortly after this one mother called us and wanted to subscribe to Airut. Her address was from the area where the young man had delivered the papers. After giving her address the lady asked whether she could share a prayer request. While I was talking with her, it became so quiet on the other end that it felt as if the phone call had ended. But what actually happened was that the lady was silently weeping when she could hear about the wonderful grace of God from another believer. She was so concerned about her children who are young adults and also wondered if God could accept her again as His backslidden daughter.
"An area where Airut has been blessed of God is work done in prisons where Christians from different denominations have a fruitful cooperation. Once in a while some prisoners write to us to thank us for the message and ask for prayer.
"In other countries Airut is spread especially among the Finns in Canada and in Sweden here in the Nordic countries. Another country in the European Union, Estonia, is a country close to Finland and ethnically related to us. Estonians are said to be the least religious people in Europe. Some copies of Airut are also sent to Carelia and the area of St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation.
"It seems that Seppo Niemelä will continue as the editor in chief of Airut even though he reached the age where he could retire. He is in good health and he has contact in the evangelical churches. He also speaks to both young and older people in Finland and in Estonia. Seppo hopes to have more opportunities to travel and share about the work of Airut and the message. This might be possible if we could get one more person to manage some logistics, etc. of this kind of work. It is also important to us that Kylli represents the younger generation and Airut gets a face among younger adults through her. Please pray for a new editor in chief in a few years and that we would hear the voice of the Lord while He leads the Airut work in this new decade.
"Lately we have received exciting feedback especially from men and that is encouraging our work. There is a prayer revival starting that unites different Christian groupings in Finland. In the year of 2008 there was a prayer event organized where every community in the country was represented. There is a dream among evangelical leaders in Finland that a big prayer conference could be arranged in Turkyu, the oldest town in Finland, in 2011, when that town is the capital of culture in EU. Taking part in that meeting would be all towns around the Baltic Sea. Finland has also received a special blessing through Christian music since there are many musicians and music groups in the country who share God in a deep way in their songs and music. There are Christian student groups and organizations in the universities. During the past few years there have emerged scientists who profess the Christian faith and who get room in the media.
"In comparison with the nation’s population, Finland sends out a good number of missionaries through different mission organizations, which is also a blessing to a country. Short-term mission trips are quite popular among young people, and we hope and pray this has a good impact for giving their lives to missionary service later on. In summertime there are many Christian camps for families, teenagers and children, and we pray that many will build their lives more firmly on the Rock Christ Jesus.
"As a team in Airut, we have experienced that we need to teach especially about prayer and the coming kingdom of God. That which is mentioned above is very encouraging for us."
Let us praise God with the Airut team for the way He is using the ministry and pray for ever increasing divine power upon it, to help bring a great spiritual awakening to Finland and to neighboring Nordic nations!