Past and Present Converge in Tallinn's Rock Baptist Church
May 26, 2009 - May 26, 2009 — Erki Tamm was just 16 when Billy Graham addressed a group of ministers and church leaders at Rock Baptist Church in 1984, but he recalls the moment as though it happened last week.
by Janet Chismar
“I was in the second row,” Tamm shared with the BGEA team this afternoon, pointing out the spot. “It was the first time a very popular American preacher was in Estonia.”
Mr. Graham spent two days in Tallinn — the capital of Estonia — while the nation was under Soviet rule.
After meeting with government leaders and assuring them that “Jesus Christ loves Communists,” he preached in historic Oleviste Baptist Church, at the Orthodox Cathedral of Alexandr Nevsky, and spoke to church leaders at the Rock Baptist Church.
“When he spoke at Oleviste Baptist Church,” said Tamm, “I was in the balcony then too. I remember looking out and saw the church was surrounded by police and KGB people.”
Tamm said he thinks the visit by Billy Graham “brought a lot of strength to our people. We were encouraged that God had a future for us and that maybe there would freedom once again. A lot of people believed it and prayed for it. Not long after, we became free. Somehow this is connected with Christian prayers.”
Another preacher – a little younger and just a little less known at the time – also spoke to Estonian audiences.
“Tonight,” Mr. Graham told the Oleviste congregation, “is an historic moment for me because it’s the first time that my son and I have participated together in a service.”
Franklin Graham, who recently had been ordained, stood at the pulpit at Rock Baptist in 1984 to address the gathering of Baltic church leaders. (Shown in the top photo.)
Tamm hopes that Franklin’s return this weekend for the Festival of Hope will spark a revival in the secular nation: “We see that every Sunday only one percent of people attend church and only 10 percent of Estonians are Christians. To start again after freedom has been difficult, but I look at the future with a positive view.”
The Franklin Graham Festival “should have a good impact on the people in Estonia,” Tamm added. “Churches are working together. I hope this will start a new revival in Estonia. A lot of people in our church are inspired to bring their friends. I hope we will see good results in the five years.
“I hope very much that our church member will bring their friends. I believe the Church will grow.”
PARTNER WITH US IN PRAYER:
- Please pray for Franklin Graham as he prepares to share Christ with so many people who don't know him.
- Pray that even now, God will soften hearts across Estonia.
- Pray for logistics and protection against the enemy's attacks.
- And pray for Billy Graham, who broke ground for Jesus here 25 years ago.