Helari Puu: Missions Pioneer

by Bill Ankerberg, director of Nordic-Baltic
Helari Puu

Helari Puu (at left) has always been a pioneer. He was the youngest pastor elected to lead the Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia once his country gained its freedom from the USSR. He was the youngest person from Eastern Europe to be elected president of the European Baptist Federation. Now, after 20 years helping Converge in the Nordic-Baltic region, he is part of another historic moment as the first national missionary for Converge. This past January our International Ministries leadership team endorsed Helari to help with our work in one of the spiritually darkest areas of our world.

Helari holds his theological degree from the Baptist Seminary in Moscow. He worked under the Soviet system for many years as a bivocational pastor. It was difficult in those days when it was illegal to do any Christian work with children or young people. The churches were allowed to only hold services inside the walls of their buildings. Evangelism was illegal and it was routine for the KGB to routinely oppose churches by calling pastors and church leaders into their offices for questioning.

His friendship with my church, Whittier Area Community Church, grew when Helari’s daughter Margaret came to live with us for 18 months. She wanted to be trained in cosmetology and it was not available to her in Estonia, so she came to America and won the hearts of our church. Today she partners with her husband Kuldar Kaljuste in youth ministry and as church planters in the capitol city of Tallinn.

The people in Eastern Europe were remarkably resilient and determined. Christ was worshiped and shared, children were taught and young people were saved. Then 25 years ago, through what is now called, “The Singing Revolution,” without a shot being fired, Estonia declared her freedom. But now that they could do anything, what should the churches do?

Twenty years ago a call from Estonia came to Converge through Endel Meiusi, “Will you come and help us?” Our International Ministries director, Ron Larson, went with Endel to Estonia to see how we could assist. And the first person who connected with Ron was Helari Puu. Ron says, “To know Helari Puu is to know a humble, talented servant of the Lord. Since 1996 he has partnered with Converge, opening many a door for others to serve in Estonia.” From that beginning years ago we have deepened our relationships and developed a mission field. Today we have Crick and Mindy Porier, Beth Ann Erickson and now Helari Puu as our missionaries in Estonia.

It is a great advantage to have a national on our team. Helari knows the language, understands the culture and loves his country. He has been immeasurably helpful over two decades assisting us to make connections in Estonia. He helps lead our ministries of church planting, leadership development, ministry to young adults and publishing. Churches from our Northeast district have adopted Estonia and have been very engaged in helping us reach this under-reached country with less than two percent Christians. If you research the most secular countries of the world, you will find Estonia is number one. Eighty-six percent of the people say they have no interest in God.

One of the best things about Converge is we are not afraid to take on the hard places. International Ministries executive director Ivan Veldhuizen writes: “What makes Converge missions unique right now? While 90 percent of missionaries go to where the gospel is already established, we are sending 90 percent of our missionaries where people have no access to the gospel. We are focusing on the least-reached peoples of the world (4 percent or less evangelical) to start and strengthen churches. We have engaged 170 new unreached-people groups (less than 2 percent Christian of any kind) in the last two years, with a goal of 500 in the next five years. We also have a goal to engage at least 50 unengaged unreached people groups (no Christians, with no one working among them) in the next five years. We currently have 24 of those identified.”

Helari Puu shares our passion to reach lost people. We are having a significant impact in his country of 1.3 million people. We planted four new churches last year, we have several events to train church leaders and pastors, we sponsor “Reclaiming Your Passion” events for burned-out pastors and we have soccer leagues, English camps and numerous outreach events for young people. Helari currently works with the Allika (Wellspring) Church in Tallinn, Estonia. He is married to Ruth, and they have a son (Eduard) and two daughters (Margaret and Mirjam). Would your church consider support for our first national missionary?

    Point - September 2018

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