Estonia

11 05 2020

North of Latvia, and squished in between Russia and the Baltic Sea. The Gulf of Finland to the north, separates it from Finland.

Capital: Tallinn  (pop. 400,000), in a nation of 1.3 million.

People: 70% Estonian, 29% Slavic

Politics: “Long dominated by surrounding nations” (Operation world, p. 326).

Background for faith: Soviet Occupation 1940—1988. Severe persecution.

Churches: Lutheran, Estonian Orthodox, Evangelical-Baptist, Pentecostal.

Freedom of Religion since Independence, but sects and error has also arrived.  ‘Estonian Evangelical Alliance’ seeks to foster unity in diversity among many denominations, through prayer and fellowship events.

Prayer Points:

Living God, who desires that all should be saved, through your dear Son Jesus, may we be inspired by the Holy Spirit, as we pray:

  1. For the reducing of poverty in the nation.
  2. For Jesus Christ’s light and truth amidst ‘many religious options‘.
  3. For genuine faith in Jesus to be established, in fresh re-evangelism.
  4. For the witness of unity amid the faithful, alive churches.
  5. For Christian education to advance among Christians.
  6. For the Tatar Muslims and Jews to hear the gospel.
  7. For outreach to the 50,000 University Students.
  8. For God’s blessing on the work of the Christian Media.
  9. For the Spirit to bless the teaching of God’s Fatherhood, through Jesus Christ, as shared by [my friend] Graham Taylor, in various places.
  10. For the fruitful preaching, teaching and pastoral care, given by local Pastors.

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Good Article by Oliver Smith, 2018, here:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/estonia/articles/amazing-facts-about-estonia/

“To mark Estonian Independence Day (February 24), here are a few things you didn’t know about the Baltic state.

1. It’s mostly female

The country has distinctly more women than men. For every 100 females in Estonia, there are 84 men – only the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific, with a population of around 50,000, has a smaller percentage of males. Estonian women live 10 years longer, on average, which goes some way to explaining it. Incidentally, the UAE is the country with the highest male-to-female ratio, a remarkable 2.19:1.

2. They are good at the Olympics

When it comes to winning Olympic medals, Estonia really punches above its weight. Not including the 2016 Games in Rio, it has picked up a total of 25.5 medals per million residents. Only seven countries have a greater strike rate. Estonia is also one of 51 countries that receive more tourists each year than its total population.

3. They love wife carrying

Estonians are also adept at the non-Olympic sport of wife carrying. Though it originated in Finland, Estonian couples won the Wife Carrying World Championships for 11 consecutive years between 1998 and 2008, and the most popular carrying technique, shown below, is even referred to as the “Estonian Carry”.

4. And swinging

They take swinging very seriously in Estonia, so much so that in the Nineties a man named Ado Kosk invented a new sport called kiiking, in which participants attach themselves to giant steel swings that rotate a full 360 degrees. It is also yet to be included in the Olympics.

5. There’s space

Estonia is one of Europe’s least crowded countries, with a population density of 28.4 people per square kilometre. Only Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia can beat it. It is also one of the the least populous of all the EU member states (1.3 million).

6. And lots of islands

Estonia has 2,222 islands and islets in the Baltic. That’s a lot, but far fewer than the country which claims to have the most – Finland, with 179,000 (we’re not sure who counted them). Britain has 6,289.

7. It has a tragic modern history

An estimated 7.3 per cent of Estonia’s population was killed during the Second World War – a higher percentage than most other European countries; Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are the exceptions – along with various Soviet Republics (Belarus suffered the most, with 25.3 per cent of its people perishing). A further 10 per cent of Estonia’s population were subsequently deported to Soviet labour camps.

8. Getting around is free of charge

Public transport is entirely free for residents of the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

9. It’s pretty flat

The highest point in the country is Suur Munamägi (which translates at “Big Egg Mountain”), just 318 metres (1,043ft) above sea level.

10. They love singing

The events that led to the restoration of Estonian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 are commonly referred to as the Singing Revolution. The term was coined following a series of mass demonstrations during which Estonians sang national songs and patriotic hymns that were strictly forbidden.

11. And Skyping

A group of Estonians were fundamental in the invention of Skype, the online video call service, and 44 per cent of its employees are based in Tallinn and Tartu. Tallinn is sometime dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe and has the continent’s highest number of startups per head of population.

12. It’s got a World Heritage site you’ve never heard of

Estonia has two Unesco World Heritage sites. The historic old town of Tallinn is well known for its wonderfully preserved medieval architecture; more obscure is the Struve Geodetic Arc, which Estonia shares with Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Moldova, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. It is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian (now you know).

13. A very high literacy rate

Estonia has one of the highest adult literacy rates in the world – 99.8 per cent, according to Unesco. Only Latvia’s and – rather surprisingly/dubiously – North Korea’s is higher.

14. And a plummeting population

Its population has fallen sharply in recent. It was 1,565,662 in 1989; now it’s estimated at 1,318,705 – that’s a 15 per cent drop. It did rise slightly last year, however.

15. They vote online

Estonia was the first country in the world to adopt online voting – way back in 2005.

16. Its currency was the kroon

One for pub quiz fans: the Estonian currency prior to adopting the euro was the kroon.

17. They don’t go to church

According to a Gallup Poll, Estonia is the world’s least religious country. Just 16 per cent of respondents said religion was an important part of their life, compared to 27 per cent of Britons, 65 per cent of Americans and 100 per cent of Bangladeshis and Indonesians.

18. But have a very old wooden one

Nevertheless, the Ruhnu stave church, built in 1644, is the oldest surviving wooden building in the country.

19. And another very tall one

According to some sources, Tallinn’s St Olaf’s Church was the world’s tallest building from 1549 to 1625, with a height of 159m (it is currently 123.7m).

20. They love their chess players

One of the greatest Estonians of all was Paul Keres, a chess grandmaster from the 1930s until the mid 1960s. A staggering 100,000 mourners attended his funeral in 1975, almost 10 per cent of the population.

21. It’s green

52 per cent of the country is forest, making it one of Europe’s greenest countries – and that figure is rising.

22. And popular with cruise passengers

Around 1.5 million people visit Tallinn each year, including more than half a million cruise passengers.

23. It’s wild – and has wolves

Other attractions including Soomaa National Park, one of 12 protected wilderness areas in Europe. Visitors might try their hand at bogshoeing, to help them traverse the marshy ground – but watch out for wolves.

24. There are few big cities

Only three cities – Tallinn, Tartu and Narva – have a population greater than 50,000.

25. And their heroes talk to hedgehogs

Kalevipoeg is the country’s national epic. It tells the story of a giant hero who throws stones and talks to hedgehogs.”  (all 25 points, by Oliver Smith.)





Ecuador

6 05 2018

The Republic of Ecuador is situated in Latin America. Between Columbia to the north, and Peru in the south.

The Capital city: Quito. They generally speak Spanish (of the 25 languages spoken).

ecua-MMAP-sm

Of the population of almost 14 million people, some 94% are Christian.

Famous Ecuadorians include:

  1. Pauline Aguirre – an Ecuadorian singer/songwriter. She is a Christian, and her first solo album was “Mujer de Fe” (Woman of Faith).
  2. Victor M. Medina is an actor, film art director and a production designer.
  3. Gerado is a Latin rapper and a singer.
  4. María Capovilla lived for 116 years and 347 days (Guinness World Record, at the time).
  5. Edison Mendez, football (soccer), scored 5 goals in the qualification phase of the 2006 World Cup.
  6. Antonia Valencia, football (soccer), [Manchester United] forward and midfielder.
  7. Pedro Vicente Maldonado (1704-1748) was a scientist physicist, mathematician, astronomer, topographer and geographer. He was part of a Mission measuring the roundness of the earth, and

Interestingly the Galapagos Islands are part of the nation’s responsibilities.  Interesting comment from Operation World:

The 28,000 people living on the distant and barren Galapagos Islands now have a growing ministry in their midst through MVI. The islands host many eco-tourists who, through Darwin’s legacy, are often hostile to biblical Christianity”.

Thanks to God: We do give thanks for the genuine Christian faith that has taken root in this nation. We lament the presence of all powerless, lethargic, nominal ‘religion’, and pray for fresh movements of the Holy Spirit, awakening faith, hope and love for Jesus Christ, his saving Cross, and His Living Word.

Prayer Points:

  1. Pray for the poor, especially the slum dwellers, of Quito and Guayaquil.
  2. Pray for the wealthy. Many of the upper and middle classes are largely unresponsive to the gospel. There is little vision to reach them with the gospel.
  3. Pray for the Afro-Ecuadorian people. There is much spiritism among them, and with this they delve into an engagement with the occult and powers of darkness. Only a small percentage, just 0.03% are evangelical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Djibouti

16 10 2017

Capital: Djibouti   … (imagine that!)

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Population: 1 million. About 61% are Somali people, also Afar (28%), Arab (8%).

Official Language: French and Arabic.

A hot dry enclave between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, with possibly the hottest average temperatures of any county on earth.

Religion: Muslim 97% (and the State religion). Religious freedom for foreigners.

Prayer:  Living Lord, ascended Jesus, who loves this nation of people, may your Word be preached here with power.  In this strange nation, so calm and stable, yet with huge problems of unemployment and famine, may the miracle of coming to know Jesus Christ as the Saviour and hope of the world, occur among significant people, that the joy of the true God’s plan and purpose, as Father and Redeemer may be revealed for many people. Come Holy Spirit and bring a quenching of human thirst, in a dry and weary land. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Not free in Iraq, but free in Australia

3 07 2012

I heard on ABC radio today, with Ian Henschke, an interview he had with Nadia, who was formerly living in Iraq.  She was granted her application to come and live in Australia as a refugee, a resident. Back in Iraq, every time a family member goes to work, we hug, in case we do not see each other again. It is very fearful for her and her family there. They thought it may be different after Saddam Hussain was deposed, but not so. Still the political and religious killing continues—if to a lesser degree. It will need a miracle to change, she says.

She said something close to this: ‘In Iraq, we are not free, for we would be killed because we are different. In Australia we are free to hold different political, religious and cultural views, and we can still all live together in peace’.

She said she was Algerian, formerly of Iraq. And that none of the Arab countries would accept her living in their country. We know that Islam is predominate there. But often dare not mention this fact.

Anyone who says that ‘all religions are the same’, and who think Islam is on a par with Christian faith, is living in a mist and a haze.

In Australian society, we should not ignore the profound influence of Christian faith upon society, and upon nations.

To dismiss this point, is to live in make-believe-land: ‘make-believe-all-religions-are-the-same’.





Australian Society

17 05 2010

Someone on ABC radio, the other night said of Australian Society: “we live in a multi-faith society, not a secular society. Some 75% of Australians lay claim to a faith, or sorts”. Well said. Most identify as Christian – even if many of these may be nominal, rather than dynamically or actively so.

It has implications for the premise on which we conduct our public conversations.

It would be great to wake up to our rich Christian heritage.





Europe’s Past Is Today’s Hope

6 10 2009

Europe continues to be a difficult place for the gospel to take fresh root, and to make real headway. Only today, I received a request for support for a missionary couple, as they endeavour to take the Word of truth into … Italy. Ha – just think… the Apostle Paul wrote his great letter of truth, concerning the world, and life, and the future, to … the church in Rome. We should read Paul’s Letter to the Romans often!

What a strange thing human history can seem to be. One of the most unusual days, and perhaps disappointing in terms of unwise use of power, was when Charlemagne, was crowned by the Pope, as leader of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’, on Christmas Day, 800 AD. In a short Church History lesson (2009), I wrote the following:

Charlemagne crowned by Leo III

On Christmas Day, 800 AD, in Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as emperor. This signified a shift in power structure, for the church in Rome, in relation to the all of the Kings of Europe.  In theory, church and state were now in harmonious interplay. How did a Pope ever come to crown a world ruler? Can you have a Holy Roman Empire?

Fast forward. Another Gregory, Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), instituted reforms, which ultimately led to the papacy emerging in the 12th and 13th centuries, as the most powerful office in Europe.

Fast Forward: By 1409, there was one Italian Pope, Urban, in Rome, another French one, Clement from Avignon,. But neither stood down, as of necessity, a third Pope, Alexander V, was elected. Three Popes. And one was preaching a crusade against another and selling indulgences to pay for it.

In World History, many Christian leaders, (if not all to some extent) have really failed in their specific calling to continue to announce the good news of the gospel to the world. Some have become too theologically clever, and too politically careful, or manipulative, to be able to really bear witness to Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, through his death and resurrection. Nevertheless, Jesus ever remains Lord of all current affairs, of life itself, of death, and of creation, with its future in his hands! This is an amazing claim.

I was heartened, therefore to read this article in Christianity Today, concerning the current Pope, and his recent words. It is good to be a person, who, in spite of many obstacles, and when often being misunderstood, does not give up in one’s calling to proclaim the good news for the human race. check out this article:

Europe’s Past Is Today’s Hope | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

I hope you are not giving up, on your calling, or compromising it, wherever that may be!





Pateriology: Study 3

1 11 2008

Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father 

Introduction

A favourite story told by Jesus is found in Luke 15:

  11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

  14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

  20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

  25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

  29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

  31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The story is hauntingly familiar. It resonates. This is the story humanity is made of, the world over – with mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, husbands, wives, grandparents and in-laws and cousins. It is brilliantly told by the master storyteller himself; it gets into our hearts, and minds. We think of dear ones, estranged or reconciled. It connects with prayers issuing from the depths of our hearts. Tears and sorrow are near to the surface, or anger and disappointment is concealed deeply below. Why so poignant, so stirring, so disturbing?

Kenneth Bailey says:

‘… the prodigal …planning to work as a servant …intends to save himself, [but]…on his return …is shattered by the offer of grace… the older son launches into a bitter tirade against the father. The parable closes with a final appeal for reconciliation. Both sons are seen as rebels needing a visible demonstration of love to win them from servanthood to sonship.’

We should note of this story:

1.     It echoes the human predicament – rebellion, loneliness, and folly.

2.     It echoes the gospel appeal from the Father through His son to the world: For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life (Romans 5:10). And, ‘…we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin…we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain (2Corinthians 5:20–­­­­6:1).

3.     It echoes lavish grace, new possibilities, and stubborn wills.

This story is there in all of humanity. And it is there in humanity, primarily because it is there between Our Father in heaven and his children in rebellion. As someone said ‘we are rebels with weapons in our hands’.

What is it that wins rebels, like these 2, ‘from servanthood to sonship’?

Seemingly absent from the story, is the action of atonement that takes people, sin, guilt scheming and rebellion seriously; that takes the Father and the Son of God, and the eternal family seriously. However, the storyteller himself, Jesus, is all too well aware, amidst all the failure of the human race, of what it will take to effect true forgiveness and reconciliation, namely, a cross. Nothing less.

When the State becomes your father…

1.     I once spoke with a worker, who described some failures in the Youth detention centre system, saying, ‘Young Aboriginal men come to the centre, until they are 18 yrs old. Most continue their ways and proceed to State Prison. Sadly, we are not allowed into their home lives to work on helping whole families. “When the State becomes Your Father, your Home becomes the Prison”.

2.     I am a friend of a man who has been out to prove himself, all his life. He never met his father. He knew he was adopted, and was grateful for that… but does he have a deep longing in this…

O Lord, all my longing is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you (Psalm 38:9)

3.     I know a man who grew up in orphanages. He never knew his parents. He believes Jesus promise below, and is very moved by Christian messages of the Father. How beautiful is Jesus promise:

 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you… On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you….those who love me will be loved by my Father…we will come to them and make our home with them’ (John 14:18-23 selected verses)

4.     My Dream: I shared that God is Father, with a tough bikie. I said he had an inbuilt resistance to this, but that if he really heard me, he would know this to be true.  I thought he would bash me… but he heard me, and believed me, and his anger was gone! He softened.

The Male-Female Duality

The Christian revelation is that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The substitution of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer as such, is not the Christian revelation. (Indeed, all work together in these 3 works)

‘Man’ (male-female) is made in the image and likeness of God. The word ‘Man’ is chosen here in preference to the word ‘Humanity’, because it is a single syllable and as such, conveys the sense of a single ‘block’ of human people. (God is One). The word – humanity – with the “–ity” ending, suggests a multiplicity (2 or more groups, not 1). It conveys the one-ness in creation prior to the entry of sin. It does not here, suggest ‘maleness’, but rather one-ness.

Given that Man (male-female) is the image of God then it follows, surely, that the male-female duality exists within God. There is certainly motherhood in God; this needs clarifying. Geoff Bingham says:

The male-female of God is called ‘Father’, given that God is often likened to a mother but is never as such called mother. Yet the word Father embraces both.

The Father is Love – Love is Flowing

Students of the Bible are often surprised to learn that nowhere in Scripture does it teach that ‘Jesus is Love’. Neither does Scripture speak of love as being the glue that holds the Trinity together. This would suggest a fourth action (or hypostasis), within the Triune God.

When John teaches that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8, 16), he means ‘the Father is love’; in and from this love creation and redemption flow!

Paul supports this conclusion, when he speaks of Jesus, as being ‘the beloved Son’ (Colossians 1:13), or the alternatively phrase is ‘The Son of his Love’. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, and Spirit of the Son (Rom. 8:11; Matthew 10:20; 2Cor. 3:17; 1Peter 1:11).

Love flows from the fountainhead of love: the Fons Divinitatis.

(Psalm 36); this steadfast love flows out to the world to deal with sin, cleanse and reconcile, that the Father’s true family be formed.The Son is sent (incarnated), and the Spirit is spirated (breathed).  And we are incorporated into that flow of love (John 17:20-25).


Kenneth E. Bailey Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes (Eerdmans, 1976), p. 206

Geoffrey C. Bingham, I love the Father, (NCPI 1990), p. 20; See references Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 131:2; cf. Psalm 27:10

Geoffrey C. Bingham, Ah, Strong, Strong Love! (NCPI ,1993), p. 66








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