Michael Freund has put Club Med writers to shame with his latest piece on the “pleasant”, “peaceful”, “pristine”, “tranquil” and “resourceful “ nation of Finland. Michael has recently returned from the Christian Zionist utopia, where he soaked in rays of “deep-seated love and admiration for Israel”.
“There are churches where the Israeli flag is proudly displayed side-by-side with the Finnish national colors…Israel and world Jewry must do more to cultivate relations with Helsinki, where the ground is fertile for deepening the bonds of friendship between the two countries.”
But like we reported backin April, Freund’s folly is that he is big on praise, but lax in research.
Jewish Israel has no doubt that there are more than a few Finns who care deeply for Israel and the Jewish people. And then, there are others. But this post is not about political divisions or anti-Semitism.
And Jewish Israel does acknowledge that we do share the same color flags (albeit very different symbols), small populations and - according to Michael - the Hebrew language.
But, we get the feeling that Michael is lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, and that in his enthusiasm to actualize “God’s plan for the Jewish people” he sometimes overlooks the obvious. It’s worth exploring the reaction to Freund’s article which was expressed by an ex Finn and journalist (now living in Tel Aviv), “The Finns do not love Israel, the Finnish missionaries love Israel”.
What tipped (ticked) us off was the following statement from Freund:
“Particularly noteworthy, is the fact that Finnish Christian support for the Jewish state is not the province of any one particular denomination, but rather it includes such diverse groups as Baptists, Pentecostals and Lutherans. However much they might disagree over theological or doctrinal issues, when it comes to Israel they stand united”
Jewish Israel feels obligated to offer our readership, and Mr. Freund, a whirlwind virtual tour of “the other side of Finland” – a place where Baptists, Pentecostals and Lutherans conspire together in their efforts to target Jews for conversion.
The 7th International LCJE Conference : Helsinki, Finland:
The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) brings together leaders in Jewish missions (missionaries) from all over the world to “share information on trends, strategies, theological thinking and missiological research on outreach to Jewish people” ( how to convert Jews).
Although the movement is heavily influenced by representatives of American Baptist and Southern Baptist organizations (Lausanne was the brainchild of Southern Baptist preacher Billy Graham), Northern European Pentecostals and Lutherans feel right at home.
A gathering of representatives from eighteen countries and five continents met for the The 7th International Lausaunne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism which was held in Helsinki, Finland in 2003 .
“Finland was chosen as the venue, because of its proximity to the former Soviet Union and because of the Nordic region’s historic concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of the Jewish people.” And indeed, the targeting of Jews in the Soviet Union for conversion efforts was a major part of the conference statement:
"...We rejoice that Jewish people worldwide are finding their Messiah. Wherever the name of Jesus (Yeshua) is being proclaimed, He is being recognized by His own, despite the obstacles of misunderstanding, opposition, anti-Semitism and prejudice. We are particularly encouraged by the vibrant witness of Russian-speaking Jewish believers worldwide and the creative and courageous indigenous leadership they bring to our movement…We rejoice that there is today increased freedom and opportunity to proclaim the Good News of the Messiah to Jewish people in areas that were previously closed, such as the former Soviet Union..."
The working group of LCJE in Finland is made up of various Protestant organizations, congregations, and individuals . Among the members are those representing Lutheran missionary organizations, Pentecostal or other “free movement” Christians,and representatives of the Parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
The February 2009 report from Finland makes note of the traditional “Jesus to Israel” Seminar which took place last November at a Lutheran church in Vantaa – a city outside of Helsinki. During the seminar, “certain friendship activities between Finland and Israel" were explored and “the central question was the following: ‘Has God given the Jews any other way to salvation than through Jesus the Messiah?’ The answer was an absolute ‘no’.”
“Caspari Center is a network of people: Jews and Gentiles throughout the world working together to raise awareness of Jewish believers in Jesus and support the growth of Israel’s congregations. Our passion is to support emerging leaders who will transform Israel by developing and leading mature, confident and visionary Messianic communities.”
“Our vision is to see a strong and growing presence of Jesus believers in the midst of the Jewish people, and to see a strong and growing presence of Jewish believers in Jesus in the midst of the Church.”
Three out of the five organizations listed as International partners are Finnish:
• Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission
• Finnish Lutheran Mission (in Finnish)
• Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission
Work among Jews: In Israel FLOM [Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission] co-operates with the Caspari Center in Jerusalem. The Center publishes literature and provides training for the needs of the local Messianic congregations.
In St. Petersburg, Russia, a Messianic Lutheran Congregation, which has been named St. John the Baptist, has been established through the work. In Odessa, Ukraine FLOM co-operates with the Jews for Jesus – organization.
But if Michael is looking for pristine Finnish beauty, he need not pay for a flight ticket, because Finland has already made its mark in and on Israel…
Yad Hashmona : “Finns and Israelis in the Jerusalem Hills”
“Surrounded by panoramic natural vistas, the pastoral landscape of Yad Hashmona inspires calmness, peace and relaxation. The area is saturated with green groves and woods, laced with hilltops and valleys, and neighbors many ancient and modern villages”
“The Moshav was established in spring 1974 by friends of Israel from Finland… Already in the first years of the Moshav’s existence, the Finnish founders realised that they could not progress and develop as merely a settlement of Scandinavians. They therefore sought to absorb Israelis and become a regular Israeli village that would also contain Finns… Currently, the majority of Yad Hashmona’s population are Israelis who believe in Yeshua as the Son of God, as their personal redeemer and as the Messiah of both Jews and Gentiles.”
“Two years ago, during the Second Lebanon War, the missionaries at Yad HaShmonah exploited the flight of residents from the North by offering mass hospitality while engaging in protracted missionary preaching… the guest house's kashrut license was recently withdrawn by the Chief Rabbinate.”---from articles appearing in the Hebrew press on January 8, 2009 (Makor Rishon; Mishpacha; BeKehila; HaModia).
Whether it’s his demographic and security concerns, an end-of-days itch, or chosen people fatigue (tired of dwelling alone?), Michael Freund should please get real and consider that Finland is not Shangri-La for the Jews - and evangelical Finns are surely not our saviors.
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