Land & People
In land mass, Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. During the summer in the far north, the sun does not set for about two months, creating the white nights of summer, and during the winter the sun does not rise for the same time. Finland has a 100 percent literacy rate and is one of Europe's most educated and prosperous nations.
The spirituality of Finland has been defined historically by the Lutheran Church. Since World War II, indifference to Christianity has grown and values based on the Bible have lost ground in society. Only two to three percent of the population attends Sunday Services at Lutheran churches. However, most Finns still marry in the church, baptize, and confirm their children into the church, and most have a Lutheran church funeral.
In Finland the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is strong and grows virtually unopposed throughout all the Christian denominations. Ecumenical cooperation between churches is continually increasing.
Year Entered by BMM1980
Tom and Linda Ruhkala moved to the city of Tampere in July 1980. After learning the Finnish language, they began meetings and Bible studies in their home. For five terms their ministry was conducted primarily in Finnish. They have found most Finnish people to be indifferent to matters of eternity and uncomfortable speaking about their relationship to God, although they are willing to read printed materials. Tom has written and published tracts and sermons and has seen four books translated and published in Finnish. In 1996 the Ruhkalas organized a Baptist church, Perinteinen Baptistiseurakunta, with seven adult charter members.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, from 1991 to 1999, Tom enjoyed a fruitful ministry of preaching in Russian Baptist churches and teaching seminars from St. Petersburg to Murmansk, providing much-needed literature for the believers. Recently, their Russian ministry has focused on ministering to Russian believers immigrating to Finland and on publishing and sending Christian materials to Christians in the former Soviet Republics.
In 2006, an English-speaking ministry directed to reach the growing international population in Finland was launched as part of the Ruhkalas’ church, whose English name became International Baptist Church. Then in 2007 the small Finnish/international congregation was able to move from their rented meeting space in the city. The Lord graciously provided for them to purchase their own meeting place in a good location. Sunday services, Bible studies, and evangelistic outreaches are conducted in English, but there are always opportunities for non-English, Finnish-speaking nationals as well. The Ruhkalas have an active street evangelism outreach also. The ministry in Tampere has been seeing steady progress.
The Ruhkalas' primary goal is to see Christ honored and proclaimed clearly in all their ministries. The establishment of a vibrant biblical church in Tampere is vitally important in a land where Christianity has been reduced to a code of ethics rather than a transformation of the heart.
Church planters are needed to plant Bible-believing local churches in other parts of Finland. The Ruhkalas would also like to see coworkers come to start youth ministries, Bible institutes, camps, and radio/TV ministries that they could wholeheartedly recommend to the Finns. Also, most of the Christian literature currently published in the Finnish language promotes the views of either the Lutheran state church or the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement and is therefore unprofitable to their ministry. Opportunities for Christian service are unlimited.
View/download the Finland e-brochure here.
Learn more about Finland here.