Population: 1.3 million (2012)
Official language: Estonian
Major religion: None
IFES movement: Eesti Evangeelsete Üliõpilaste Ühendus (EEÜÜ)
Estonia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has freedom of faith. Nevertheless Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world: a European Union study in 2005 found that only 16% of Estonians profess a belief in a god, the lowest percentage of all countries studied.
- around 23 universities, 41 colleges and 42 vocational schools
- 3 EEÜÜ groups, between 5 and 20 people
- 1 full-time staff worker and 10 volunteers
Following independence from the Soviet Union, there was a massive increase of interest in Christianity in Estonia. However as material wealth increased and people’s curiosity was satisfied, this interest declined as rapidly as it had risen. Accordingly, during the first years of the movement, there were up to 200 people in EEÜÜ summer camps but today the number averages 20-30. Still those numbers are gradually increasing.
Though small, the current Estonian movement is extremely active. Despite their size they have managed to organize large scale outreach programmes. They confess their faith as they promote EEÜÜ during an annual ‘student market’ where student organisations advertise themselves, they hold discussion cafés, share candies with Scriptures and other activities that invite students to interact with them. The movement also published the gospel of Mark two years ago and has given them out widely.
View from the inside
Egle Hollman is the General Secretary of EEÜÜ Estonia. She comments: ‘New winds are blowing inside of EEÜÜ. We have been growing in numbers and God has been sending us non-Christian students to love and their number in our groups is growing. We do hope that in Estonia we are standing in the doorsteps of a new revival. We are also praying that God would teach us to pray continuously for non-Christians, that we would win their souls to Christ and not lose them’.
She holds on to the words of Christ in Jeremiah 29:11: ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’
- that all the non-Christian students in EEÜÜ groups and universities would accept Jesus as their Saviour and grow in faith;
- for EEÜÜ students to grow as disciples of Christ, even after they graduate;
- for new members to join and for seeds that have been planted through outreach activities to bear fruit.