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 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, a state church. A few decades ago, membership was held by 98 percent of the population. That shared historical connection provided a national identity fulcrum for the Finns. To them, the Lutheran Church was synonymous with Christianity. Today that connection has weakened and membership has slipped to 72 percent of Finns.
The Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is strong and grows virtually unopposed throughout all the Christian denominations. Ecumenical cooperation between churches is continually increasing.
Finns hold to a multicultural worldview promoting humanistic values. This has sidelined biblical Christianity as irrelevant dogma, better to be ignored. Some view Christianity as dangerous and contentious in their sophisticated, postmodern society.
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 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 wrote and published tracts and sermons and saw several books translated and published in Finnish. In 1996 the Ruhkalas organized a Baptist church, Perinteinen Baptistiseurakunta, with seven adult charter members.
In 2007, an English-speaking ministry directed to reach Finland’s growing international population was launched as part of the Ruhkalas’ church, whose English name became International Baptist Church of Tampere. That year, the Lord graciously provided for the small Finnish/international congregation to purchase their own meeting place in a good location.
The Ruhkalas retired in 2018, and the church (now known as Armon Baptistiseurakunta—Grace Baptist Church) is led by a capable Finnish national, whom Tom discipled. The ministry in Tampere continues to see steady progress.
The establishment of vibrant biblical churches is vitally important in a land where Christianity has been reduced to a code of ethics rather than a transformation of the heart.
We currently have no missionaries in Finland, but missionaries who are burdened for this country will find opportunities to serve. Church planters are needed to plant Bible-believing local churches in other parts of Finland. Opportunities are available to work alongside International Baptist Church’s Finnish pastor 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.