HOW WE BEGAN
Shortly after meeting in Calvary Chapel Bible College in Austria (now in Hungary) Bob and Mari were engaged to be married in New York, June 2003. They knew that the Lord had called them to Finland, Mari’s homeland, to start a Bible teaching ministry. So in the late summer/early fall of 2004 they started taking steps of faith by packing up stuff and closing down things in New York in preparation to move to Finland. In the meantime they continued holding jobs and serving at their home church in Macedon, NY (Calvary Chapel Macedon). During this time of preparation the Lord continued, through a number of ways, to confirm and solidify their calling to go to Finland. As 2004 started drawing to a close, Bob went ahead and ordered the plane tickets that would take them to their new missionary home.
They arrived in Finland on December 13th, 2004 – exactly two years to the very day after Mari had left Finland to move to New York! Bob and Mari got there with nothing but their stuff and no ministry connections. They didn’t know anything about the CC ministries in Sweden and Denmark, and Bob still didn’t have a clear idea about how specifically to start the ministry that God had for them.
Bob had some ministry experience from a shorter missionary stay in Italy, Bible College, teaching kids Sunday school, and doing a men’s Bible study with guys from their home church before they moved. But all those past experiences seemed of no help at all due to the very raw nature of the unknown specifics of starting from absolutely nothing.
At first the only ministry that was given to them was praying. On top of praying they kept calling places such as assisted living homes, Turku’s prison, local schools etc. to see if they could come in and share the Gospel and the Word with those that would listen; but everywhere they tried to get in was nothing but closed doors.
Not knowing what to do, the two of them just continued to pray and keep their eyes open for any opportunity that came their way. It was in prayer that the Lord spoke to Bob and simply told him to start teaching a Bible study. So it was just Bob and Mari doing Bible studies on Friday nights in their apartment. And in between, during the weekdays, they were going out in the streets, seeking opportunities to share the gospel with anyone who would listen. No one ever came to those Bible studies and nothing seemed to be happening at all, but lots of seeds were planted in the hearts of those that Bob and Mari shared with in the streets.
This went on for a few months. Then, in April, Bob and Mari were joined by a short term outreach team, which came from the Calvary Chapel Bible College in Hungary. During the time the team was here, the Lord blessed them greatly and a few people started showing up at Bob and Mari’s home Bible studies. In fact after the team came and served with them for a week’s time, there were only a few Bible studies where no one showed up!
The majority of the people who attended these home Bible studies were students from the local high school. Although it took several attempts, and divine leverage, the high school finally allowed Bob and the visiting outreach team to come and give a presentation for the students, which lasted for almost two hours. This turned out to be a fruitful time, and many more seeds were planted in the hearts of the people that were present. However, even though what happened that day in the classroom was amazing, this was not the primary reason the Lord brought Bob and the team in the school.
After the presentation was over everyone was invited to have lunch with the class at the school cafeteria. It was during lunch that Mari noticed across the cafeteria a boy wearing a shirt that said in big white letters “Jesus Christ #1”. Mari said to Bob while they were eating, “Lets go introduce ourselves and meet that boy and his friends”. At first he didn’t think it was a very good idea and was a bit reluctant to go; nevertheless after they finished eating Bob and Mari ventured across the cafeteria and introduced themselves to the boy with the shirt and the people he was sitting with. It was for this that the Lord brought them into the school. Those at the table were Christians, and after Bob and Mari had shared why they moved to Finland and the vision for teaching Gods word in Finland they responded by inviting him to come and teach the Word at their next weekly prayer meeting.
The school had given these students a room to meet three times a week for their prayer meetings. The next prayer meeting, Bob and the visiting team went back to the school, joined the prayer group, and had a time of worship and shared a Bible study. Then some of the students asked Bob to come back the next week, and so he continued teaching that group of students once a week up until school let out for the summer.
By the time the spring semester ended, the high school Bible study group had grown to include about 13 students. God really brought forth fruit there. Some of the key people in the CC Turku fellowship today were in those short Bible studies at that school.
After the outreach team had left a group of students from that table in the cafeteria and from the prayer group were interested in coming to the weekly Bible study held at Bob and Mari’s apartment. Actually while the team was still there, one of the students asked if there was going to be any weekly Bible studies. It was in that moment the question was asked that Bob decided to start doing two Bible studies instead of the normal one that was on Friday. In fact the one on Friday was cancelled altogether and a Wednesday night Bible study and Sunday night Bible Study were started! Even now CC Turku holds 2 weekly Bible studies.
People need to have a healthy diet. All who live without one become malnourished. Anyone will agree with that fact. But the stifling thing is that Christians think they are not susceptible to spiritual malnutrition when as a church or individuals they don’t continue steadfastly in the word of God. Just as the body needs food, so does the spirit within. And spiritual food, or the Christian’s bread, is only found in the word of God. Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Also in John’s gospel it is written that Jesus, himself, is the Word of God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)… “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Here we can clearly see that the Word of God is personified as the only begotten of the Father. This can only refer to Jesus due to the fact that we know from other scriptures (e.g. John 1:18, 3:16-18 et al.) that Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. On top of all of this Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Therefore it is safe to say that to be apart or to depart from the Word of God is to be apart from Jesus, and to be apart from Jesus means we can do nothing! That’s why it is amazing that some will say or think, “We don’t need the Bible being taught to us, line upon line, chapter upon chapter, we don’t need the whole counsel of God “…” let’s give a greater place in our meetings (they will say) to worship and prayer, maybe some interpretive dances, signs and wonders, tarrying meetings, healing services, because these things are more enrapturing”. Though these things are not innately bad, and some of them should even be practiced on a regular basis both corporately and individually, Christians ought never to exchange the Word of God for experiences! The Church is meant to be a place were sheep come and are fed. It is not and never was called to be a place were goats come to be entertained. Amazingly, this is exactly what is seen in so many churches today! The Church needs to get back to the Word and teachers of the Word need to get back to simply teaching the Word simply. This is the vision and hope for CC Turku, to be a fellowship that is based on the teaching of the Word, feeding God’s sheep, and loving them. This is exactly what Jesus commanded peter to do:
“Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
This is exactly what the early church practiced…
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed…” (Acts 17:10-12a)
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27)
“All scripture is given by inspiration (God breathed) of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Therefore since the first week of Bible studies CC Turku has strived toward that end. In the beginning when the fellowship was meeting in Bob and Mari’s apartment the group started in Psalms on Wednesdays and Matthew on Sundays. Since then they have traveled through a good portion of the Bible, precept upon precept; line upon line; in expositional style teaching. And the Word of God is being magnified in their midst so as to do the same as God does with His Word, that is, to magnify it. (Psalm 138:2)
Calvary Chapel Turku gathers twice a week and warmly welcomes any and all that would like to come and study the Word of God. Please refer to the locations portion of our web site for more information.