At that time, Estonia was under the oppressive rule of a godless Communist regime. The churches were very small, and believers were strictly prohibited from public gatherings. Officials routinely denied permission for churches to enlarge their facilities.
I was with my father when he went to Estonia in September 1984. Thousands of people gathered to hear him proclaim the message of repentance and faith in the Savior. It was obvious the large crowds made the Communist leaders nervous, but God used the opportunity to plant many seeds of faith in the hearts of disillusioned Estonians.
Today Estonia is a free country, and just a few weeks ago I had the privilege of returning to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the capital city of Tallinn. Churches across the city and country worked together for the sake of the Gospel, inviting unsaved friends and praying for the Name of Christ to be exalted.
It was the largest evangelical gathering in the country’s history. Eight thousand people listened attentively to the music and message in the main auditorium each evening, while hundreds more sat in overflow areas.
When the invitation was given, people came forward quickly to surrender their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many were in tears, though Estonians are often perceived as somewhat stoic and unexpressive.
God was mighty to save, working through the power of the Holy Spirit to convict men, women and children of their sin and of God’s righteousness. As the Word of God concerning Christ’s death, burial and resurrection was preached, the Spirit of God was opening blind eyes and hearts to the truth of the Gospel.
Church leaders from several other European countries, who were observing the Estonia Crusade, remarked on the powerful effect the simple message of Christ’s atoning work on the cross had upon the audience.
“We have become far too sophisticated in our approach,” one of the leaders told us. “We must learn to communicate the Gospel far more simply and compellingly so that more people may come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
God uses the simple preaching of Christ’s atoning death for sin, and His resurrection, to open hearts to the transforming truth of the Gospel. Our Great Savior has purchased a great salvation for us, and all we must do is turn from sin and receive Him by faith into our lives.
This is the message we took into Estonia, the message we take into all the world. The Lord is always mighty to save, as we are faithful to proclaim Him.