It is a fact of history that God expands His kingdom at his own time table. When He does, it is through His grace that men and women are often moved into giving their lives for the specific purpose of planting a new local church in a given area. The circumstances around a new mission work vary from ordinary to extraordinary as well as from easier to more hard and painful. In this article I will introduce you to Finland and to its first Presbyterian congregation.
Finland and its Spiritual Condition
Finland is a nation of 5.6 million people. We gained our independence from the Russian empire in 1917. The Lutheran reformation spread to Finland due to the labors of Mikael Agricola (1510–1557). The first Finnish Bible for domestic use was published in 1776. Reformed theology did not gain a standing in Finland. Only a few devotionals and practical works from Reformed authors were published in the Finnish language.
The current spiritual condition in Finland is in line with the times. Statistically Europe is the most needy continent in the world and the Nordic countries are in the worst state. For many becoming a priest in the Lutheran Church is simply a career choice. The society is more polarised and living out Christian values is becoming more costly. There are a good number of Pentecostal and Charismatic groups in Finland, varying from mistaken to heretical. The first Baptist congregations that identified with the doctrine of grace were established in the last 30 years. In 2017–2019 I pioneered in the planting of one of them.
Lahti Reformed Church
When we were persuaded in our hearts to move to the city of Lahti (pop. 120,000), to plant a new church, we desired to do so in a peaceful and humble context. Sadly there was a lot of unwanted and unnecessary conflict from the outside. The Lord continues to humble and to teach us through these sad providences. Our conscience is clear, and the Lord is our defender.
We held the first morning and afternoon services on March 13, 2022. Since then the people of God have listened to expository preaching through John’s Epistles, the Gospel of Mark, First Thessalonians, Obadiah, and Genesis. There has also been series on the doctrine of Scripture, Trinity, Covenant, and Sacraments. We hold to the Westminster Confession and also reference the Three Forms of Unity.
In the first year we did active outreach in the neighborhood and in the city center. We have also reached out to the Filipino community, building relationships and inviting people to church. Specific labors have been put into publishing and media work. I have authored two books, one volume on Calvinism and one on Covenant Theology. In addition to the sermons our YouTube
channel has over a hundred lectures, debates, teaching series and cultural engagements, that have been greatly appreciated.
We receive regular emails of how these have been an immense blessing and even a means of conversion. Some have come out of their homes and finally decided to commit to a local church. We hope that we would see these thing more in our specific location.
Currently I work full time as a practical nurse apprentice in order to provide for my family.
Our church is small, on a good Sunday gathering 15 people together. We do Bible study on Thursdays and a Men’s evening once a month. We covet your prayers for the Lord to once again bring a reformation to Finland.
Rev. Joonas Laajanen
Lahti Reformed Church, Finland