|Republic of Estonia|
Area 45,215 sq.km. Northernmost of the three Baltic states. Separated from Finland to the north by the Gulf of Finland.
Capital Tallinn 435,000. Urbanites 69%.
Finno-Ugric 65%. Estonian 892,000. Finnish 16,000.
Slavic 33.3%. Russian 405,000; Ukrainian 38,000; Belarusian 22,000.
Other 1.7%. Jews 3,500; Tatar 3,500.
Literacy 99%. Official language Estonian; Russian is also common. All indigenous languages 5. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi.
Aggressive reforms from a Communist command economy to a capitalist free market society have made Estonia more prosperous than any other region of the former USSR, but not without pain to those on fixed incomes. HDI 0.773; 54th/174. Public debt/person 4% of GNP. Income/person $2,860 (10% of USA).
Long dominated by surrounding nations. Independent 1918-1940. The Soviet invasion in 1940 and subsequent deportation and murder of a large minority of Estonians is still a cause of deep resentment against Russia. Became independent during 1988-91 as a multi-party democracy. Estonia has single-mindedly sought to integrate with the Nordic nations and is a front-runner for early entry into the EU.
Severe persecution of all faiths under the Soviet occupation 1940-1988. Freedom of religion since independence was regained in 1988.
1 The introduction of capitalism has brought wealth accompanied by a moral slide. In Estonia's growing economy, luxury co-exists with severe poverty. Western-style materialism is found everywhere, and crime and divorce has skyrocketed since 1991. Pray for the Holy Spirit to create a hunger and thirst after God and His righteousness.
2 Estonia's attempts to preserve national identity have alienated the large Russian minority. The Russians are not popular because of 50 years of oppression and because of the $4 billion clean-up bill left by their military forces. Pray that Estonia's government may act with wisdom and discretion in establishing an identity for all of its people.
3 The Church is now free. Pray that it may not become 'soft' now that persecution has ended. Nominalism is widespread in an aging Lutheran state church. Younger churches (Pentecostals, charismatics, Baptists) are growing more rapidly than others.
4 Estonia is in need of evangelism in much the same manner as the rest of Europe. Most people notionally recognize Christianity's principles, but have little desire to commit themselves to Christ. Pray that God might strip away their secular materialism and empower the Church to reveal the living Christ to them.
5 Leadership training is a priority with church leaders. Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal seminaries or Bible schools now exist, training pastors and lay leaders alike. Denominations in the Estonian Evangelical Alliance all agree on the necessity of cooperation in reaching Estonia's less evangelized and are preparing believers for this goal.
6 The contribution of foreign Christian agencies has been significant. Finland, with its proximity, wealth, closely related culture, language and spiritual heritage has a unique role to play. Pray that all such may prove a blessing to Estonia.
7 The Estonian Bible revision was completed in 1996. IFES continues to grow. Christian radio, television, and printed media are all flourishing ministries. Pray that these may all contribute to moulding Estonia's post-Communist culture.
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