Testimonies

 

ROBERT

Home of Hope Bible School team member

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My name is Robert Bunder and today I have the opportunity to share the story of how God found me.

I was born in 1998 to a non-Christian family. I was raised by my mother. I have never met my father. During the time I grew up, I did not have any connections with God or church. I did not go to Sunday school and I did not have a single Christian friend.

I first encountered Christianity when I started reading history books at the age of 10. I was back then, and I still am, very interested in history. But my impression of Christianity was of something aggressive, bad and wrong.

I was a very troublesome boy at school. I had lots of problems. I bullied other students, I did not obey orders and I had bad friends. The way I see it right now everything was going downhill for me.

But at a point, things changed for me. I do not remember the exact breaking point but I started to pay more attention in school and I lost my bad friends. The teachers noticed that I was good at history and they channeled my interests. I won competitions and by the end of primary school I was one of the best students at my school.

And I felt that this change, all these good things, I did not do it alone. It was not only my skills and ability. Someone was helping me. Someone closed all the wrong roads and guided my steps. I started looking for that mysterious helper. I visited different churches and got interested in the Bible and God.

At one point, I felt that I had to make a choice. Do I give my life to the Lord? It was not a conversion experience, more like an inner voice inside me. I decided to follow the Lord. Then started an amazing journey which still continues. I met my wife at church and we have now been married for 2 and a half years. We have a beautiful daughter. I also recognized that the Lord was calling me into the ministry. Right now, I am studying theology in order to become a pastor in the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. It has been a blessing to be part of the team that organizes the Home of Hope Bible School. But most important, although I have never met my biological father, I now have a Heavenly Father who loves me very much.

My story is about someone who was very far from God, who did not know anything about God, but who the Lord still found. God bless you all!


 

EVA-MARIA

Participant of Home of Hope Youth Activities

My name is Eva-Maria, I’m 15 years old and I come from a Christian family. My home church is St. Peter’s in Tartu. I used to go to church every Sunday and attended a Sunday school when I was younger. Nowadays I can’t make it to church that often but try to go there as much as possible.

My personal faith has grown a lot in the past 6 months. Christianity has always been my own inner topic and I don’t talk about it with everyone. That being said, I can open up if I feel that people around me are sensible and supportive.

In my everyday life I have moments, where I see God more, and other times when I see Him less. There have been many times when I feel that it’s hard to go on alone, and in those times, God seems to be so far away. Deep down I always know that He is there for me…

I never forget to thank God, even when everything doesn’t go as I expect or plan. In these times I remind myself that God knows what’s good and best for me.

Last summer I went to a camp organized by the Estonian Lutheran youth organization and probably thanks to that camp, I have been growing fast in my faith in quite a short time. I find more joy from little things and get to meet wonderful people. At the same time, I always feel like I don’t deserve it.

When Christian youth activities were launched at Home of Hope I began to participate. I like to be together with Christian youth.

I am in 8thgrade at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church school and one of my school tasks for 8thgrade is a creativity task. Since this summer camp left a big mark on my heart, I felt that I wanted to organize an event with the same type of content and meaning.

My ideas and prayers turned into a reality and on December 20th, 2020, I organized a youth Christmas service at my home church. Mattias Haamer helped me a lot with this. Different young people talked about their faith, thoughts and feeling. We also had a worship band to lead us in music.

Organizing this service was a big steppingstone for me, but the end result was awesome. I had a lot of help from so many people and I have to say that Christians are the most noble and big-hearted people!

After the service I felt that God had blessed me and protected me so much. This service could have even been canceled because of Corona… but God had other plans.

Knowing that there is someone to rely on in good and bad times is encouraging. Even when sometimes we might lack faith ourselves.

 

MAREK

Coordinator of the Home of Hope Bible School

 

MATTIAS

Assistant to the President of TAT

AGNE, Bible School student


My name is Agne. I’m a 38-year-old Home of Hope Bible School student.

When I first heard a radio advertisement about the new Bible School, I felt a strong desire to take part in these studies. I felt a need to know more about the Bible that has been changing the lives of so many people in the world and has been an inspiration for them.

In my childhood I attended Sunday School and I was confirmed and baptized when I was 15. However, I didn’t practice my faith after this for decades.

I’m amazed how I have been inspired by the Bible School and today I can say that I have experienced a new awakening.

I have found my home church at Mustvee where Eenok Haamer is pastoring. I yearn to know more about the Bible and to go deeper in faith. Therefore, I would like to continue my studies at Bible School next year.

KRISTJAN, Alumni of TAT


It’s difficult to say the moment when I became a Christian. I have been always aware of my Father’s warm and enlightening direction–as a child wandering in forests, as a teenager on the streets, later in the army and today studying theology. I was a fisherman for many years. In the beginning of my career as a fisherman I was a greenhorn in the eyes of old jack-tars. One early-spring morning I went with three old fishermen to let down the nets. Men were studying the sea with deep looks to find the best place for their nets. When all had let down their nets then one of them discovered that I also was in the boat with my nets. Nobody examined the sea any longer and my nets were just let down into the sea. They wanted to get back home and did not want to waste any more time. Next morning we went to bring out the nets. It was a big surprise! These jack-tars got only some fish. Finally, we brought up my nets. The nets began to break under weight of fishes. There was silence in the boat. I was looking to the sky and I knew–God Is.

I have seen many miracles. Admission to the Academy is one of them. I came with the aim to become a better servant of God. My miracle starts when I see all that I have. I’m living in a rural area in the parsonage of a local congregation. Sometimes people come to talk with me. We talk about God’s direction in our lives. When this stranger is leaving he or she is not any more a stranger but my brother or sister. I feel fellowship in Christ and I understand that this is the way to serve God, it’s the expression of God’s love.

I have been working for years in an orphanage and have learned much from the children. I believe I have learned more then I am able to teach them. I learned to experience God. My wish is that God’s will, not my will, be done in my life. Training at the Academy has opened my mind and heart and it has woken me up. I often give thanks to God for connections I have been experiencing with professors and students of the Academy. God’s grace is holding that school. I pray for wisdom from Father to find the best use for the knowledge I will receive from that school during my life journey. I won’t verbalize my future service, I’ll follow the Lord’s direction. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

HEIDY, Alumni of TAT


I entered the Tartu Academy of Theology thanks to one copy of the lecture notes brought home by my husband who was a student there, so that I happened to read them. Having completed the confirmation class, I looked forward to reflecting upon religious issues and these lecture notes provided an answer to my thoughts. Later, the Academy did not only provide the education but also the community who prayed together and taught me to rely on God. Personal faith of professors and fellow students sustained and cultivated the seed sown by God. As time went by, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into care of soul, where I discovered the whole new world: kingdom of God revealed.

Once a week I work as a volunteer in children’s hospital, providing pastoral care and counselling. Serving as a pastoral care giver and counsellor I put all my hope in God, because this is the only way for me to help people. Before going to hospital I ask His guidance to reach the people who He has chosen. I wish that the will of Jesus would be done by each adult and child, hospital staff and patients whom I meet.

Congregational life has played an important role in my growth as a pastoral care giver and counsellor. I would say that I belong to three congregations at the same time. First is a small home church in a small village called Mary Magdalene, where I go every Sunday. Second congregation is my family, and third is fellowship in Tartu Academy of Theology. In all three I highly appreciate the care and honesty, which are not so obvious in this world.

Working as a trip advisor at present, I hope that my extra work as a volunteer in the church, and pastoral care giver and counsellor in hospital may someday become my profession.

LEA, Student of TAT


When I introduce myself to other Christians, I love to talk about how God caught me. I was then already 35 years old, married, mother of two, when during one hike in a big forest I was admiring beautiful nature and I realized that for everything we owe thanks to the Creator. It was a wonderful conversion and since that day I started to look and also notice God’s guidance in my life. By His wonderful guidance I also arrived to Tartu Academy of Theology. I felt that I needed deeper knowledge and teacher in my road of spiritual growth, but I could not find it anywhere. Soon I receieved “by chance” information about the admission tests of the Academy.

I remember that I was amazed by the open and loving atmosphare of the Academy. The connections between students and teachers were very strong. Our teachers were practicing clergy, best theologians whose example encouraged us to put into practice what we had learned. So it happened often that students served already during their studies as diacons in congregations or worked as pastoral counsellors. We had people from different Christian denominations and this all added value to our  studies. At  the Academy we were encouraged to build personal relationship with God, so that we could feel His presence and entrust us unto His care in all life circumstances.

During my studies I started practical training at women’s hospital, where I worked with patients at the pregnancy pathology department. I also organized grief groups at my congregation. Today I work in my congregation. I visit homes, lead small groups for mainly elderly people in several villages and conduct prayer meetings. In 2016 we opened family center at our congregation where we offer family and couple counseling. The staff consists of 10 Christan family therapist, support group leaders and domestic violence specialists, 6 of them are connected to the Academy. I lead the work of this center and it is easy for me to trust current and previous students of TAT as specialists and trainees as I know that our values are based on the same rock – Jesus Christ.

For a short time I worked as an assistant at the TAT office. Thus I know how much you, dear friends, have contributed to make pastoral care attainable for Estonian people. I want to thank personally each one of you for your support to the TAT! Your prayers and financial support has helped also me to become who I am today. God bless you aboundantly!