Population: 5.4 million (2012)
Major languages: Finnish, Swedish
Major religion: Christianity
IFES movement: Opiskelija ja Koululaislähetys – Finlands Student-och Skolungdomsmission (OPKO-FSSM)
Finland has historically been a Christian country where most people belong to the Lutheran Church (75.2% in 2013). In recent years, membership numbers have dropped in the bigger cities, especially among young adults who do not see Christianity as an intellectually relevant option. There is IFES ministry among both Finnish- and Swedish-speaking students.
- student work in 13 cities
- around 30 staff (full-time or part-time) and many student volunteers
- graduates and high school ministry
- largest group in Åbo (Turku), one of four Swedish-speaking groups
OPKO-FSSM received a lot of publicity with the introduction of the Veritas Forum a few years ago. Veritas Forums are events and academic discussions on campuses around Finland at which students can discuss the hard questions found at the core of human experience.
Bible teaching has been a core strength and focus of the movement, along with door-to-door outreach in student dormitories. Recently they have been offering coffee to students and giving out an evangelistic magazine called VIP (Very Important Person).
Youth ministry has grown steadily, with many camps around the year. There are faithful graduate members who support the movement.
View from the inside
Lilian Linden is the director of the Swedish work for OPKO-FSSM: ‘Young people are the hope for tomorrow; if we can influence them we can change the world. As John 17 puts it, our challenge is to be in the world, but not of the world. So we need to be where the students are, not going along the mainstream way of thinking, but bringing the challenging news and views of the gospel’.
- for fruitful Uncover Bible study groups where seekers can encounter Jesus through the gospel of Luke;
- for the student ministry to expand and to begin again in cities where it has ended;
- for resources for reaching international students.