As you read this, you are also sharing a very special moment in the history of Tartu Academy of Theology and Estonia. I’m giving a testimony about God’s distinguished and continued blessing that we are chosen to experience.
Three generations of Lutheran pastors have been raised up from our family despite persecution and the very challenging history of living through the 50 years following WW II when Estonia was under aggressive atheistic Soviet occupation. My grandfather, Harri Haamer, was a pastor and my father, at 85 years old, is still serving three Lutheran congregations. My two older brothers and myself are pastors.
When Estonia regained independence in 1992, my father, Eenok, established the Christian college, Tartu Academy of Theology. In 28 years, we have trained hundreds of Christian leaders for Estonia. For 27 of those years we had no permanent home and we worked in very limited renting spaces. But under God’s guidance, and with the help of very many donors, a year ago we were able to establish a Christian outreach center, Home of Hope.
The opening of Home of Hope was a major development for us. During the last year we have made preparations to organize and start many new ministries: a Bible School, the Pastoral care center, a 24/7 pastoral care telephone line and Christian youth work events. Today all of that is already up and running. The Bible School is totally sold out with over 90 participants registered (we were hoping to have at least 20). We have about 50 young people attending our various youth events. The 24/7 pastoral care telephone line that started in June this year will continue through 2021 with 100% financing from the Estonian government.
We, of course, are continuing to offer bachelor and master’s degree studies. The joint student body of Tartu Academy of Theology and the Lutheran Church Seminary is 130. This autumn 32 students were admitted. We are hosting a number of seminars and trainings regularly at Home of Hope and are capable and hopeful of hosting many more. This provides extra income. For that we need to advertise Home of Hope renting opportunities.
It’s obvious I need some help to take care of all of that.
I worked 15 years side-by-side with my father until 7 years ago when he turned leadership over to me. Today I share with you that this amazing family story is continuing. The fourth generation has grown up. Mattias, son of my older brother Markus, has joined our team and is working with me as my assistant. I’m very thankful for the energy and new ideas that he brings.
Mattias is 23 years old and is currently studying marketing. He is a very devoted Christian and Christian youth work is his passion. His skills fit exactly with our needs! We are happy that Mattias is eager to help build up the Christian community in Estonia. We don’t know God’s future plan for him and I ask you to pray for Mattias. God has called him but he needs God’s guidance for his life. Below you can read more about him and you are also welcome to watch videos tatest.org/videos that show the full story.
We want to be His servants and I call you to be our partner on this journey. We are very thankful if you will help us to fully finance the so-called Fourth Generation Fund which is meant to cover the salary of Mattias. Currently Mattias is working part time and the monthly need is $1,000. The one-year budget is $12,000. If you want to give a donation you may use our regular giving options which are presented on our website tatest.org/give and also on the next page of this newsletter. Just mark the designation “Mattias”.
First Timothy chapter 4:10 is written:
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
With our life and work we proclaim the living God who is our only hope.
God bless you,
Please watch this video to get to know more.
Testimony of Mattias
I was born into a strong Christian family. I have had ancestors of pastors for three generations – my father is a pastor, grandfather is a pastor, great-grandfather was a pastor and even my two uncles are pastors. If that’s not a strong foundation, I don’t know what is.
It is also a privilege that I have had this environment to grow up in, because I was born after the Soviet occupation, which had done a devastating job to the Christian community. There weren’t many kids who got to hear about God or Jesus or any religion when they were growing up, and even when they heard something about it, it was rather negative. They were taught not to think about this subject.
At a very young age I came to the startling realization that my peers were reacting negatively to my faith without even knowing what this Christianity means. It started to look to me like there was some kind of brick wall actually stopping them from thinking about faith in their lives. The more I met people, the more I saw it. It became a problem to me, that people not only have misconceptions about Christians, but that they are not even willing to think about Christianity or religion at all. In my opinion, this way of living and not thinking about existential questions has put many people through rough times. They have had mental issues, broken families or just feel emptiness in their hearts. By not seeing beyond their lives and living without feeling loved, it is easy to get caught up in mixed feelings and emotions. Now it is true there are exceptions on both ends, but the overall view is like previously mentioned.
It has been in my heart to break that brick wall in people’s hearts. I try to do that by getting to know them and show that I’m a normal person, and then, after a while, “shocking their world” by saying that actually I’m a Christian. That way they might be more open to discussing repressed topics.
I have always admired my father’s and grandfather’s work as pastors and have put a lot of thought into studying theology, but at least for now I don’t feel that it is the right time for me. This decision I cannot make without God’s push. Right now, I feel that I can help out more with youth work and supporting activities in Christian work. Hopefully, I can bring some young people to know Jesus so that they can break the not-knowing-Jesus pattern that is very common among Estonian families. And they could start the talking-about-Jesus pattern with their children.
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