Meeting with the Bible instructors in different lands throughout Europe is indeed inspiring. Britain has about forty sisters in full-time service, and we met a similar number in the Northern European Division. Even in the Catholic lands of Southern Europe we have a fine, loyal group of sisters carrying the message into the homes of the people.
What a tower of strength these godly women are to our evangelistic program! Studying with them in their different groups, and sharing their problems, one could not help praising God for such loyal, devoted workers. They are a happy fellowship, and each company charged me with the responsibility of carrying greetings to their fellow sisters in other fields.
A letter from Sister Luukkanen, of Finland, asks that I give her greetings to "all the workers, but especially the lady Bible instructors." The accompanying picture illustrates the excellent work being carried forward by Sister Luukkanen and her associate Bible instructor, Sister Lehtolnoto.
During the war years practically all our ministers in Finland were called into the service of their country. It was then that Sister Luukkanen felt impressed to conduct meetings for the public. She shared her conviction with the conference president, one of the few brethren who were not called into service. After counsel and prayer he encouraged her to follow the leading of the Lord. She and Sister Lehtolnoto packed their suitcases and, taking their bicycles, set out together to begin work in a place where there were no Adventists. The train which they were taking to this town stopped at a country siding many miles from their destination.
While the train was standing, our sister heard a voice say, "Get off here !" She hesitated. But again the same words, "Get off here !" came to her. She waited no longer, but, turning to her companion, said, "The Lord wants us to get off here."
They did, and the train pulled away leaving them standing with their bags and their bicycles. They inquired the way to the nearest town. It was some miles away. But they rode over and began a search for rooms.
Finland had passed through two wars in less than four years, and housing accommodation was not merely limited; it was practically unprocurable. They tried everywhere to get a room, but there were no rooms. Someone, however, had mentioned the owner of the picture theater as having a room. But that surely would be a strange domicile for two missionaries. In desperation they at last went to his home to inquire. A kindly lady greeted them at the door, and they told their errand.
"You will have to see my husband about that," she replied as she called him.
"Why, yes ! You may have the room," he said at once, and proceeded to take their suitcases.
"But wait," said Sister Luukkanen. "We had better explain first. You see, we are preachers,
and in our work we tell the people they should not go to picture shows and places of worldly amusement. It will seem strange for us to accept your hospitality and then preach against your business."
"We will be glad to have you." Then in hushed tones he continued, "And I will tell you why. A few nights ago I had a dream. In that dream I was told that salvation would come to the picture house. And when you ladies came I felt impressed that you were the ones who were to bring it."
The Lord was surely leading, and they thanked Him for His opening providences. The next day they began to hunt for a hall to begin meetings. But they could find none. So they came to their host again and asked his counsel.
"Well, there are no halls here. But I have a theater which is not being used at present. You may begin your meetings there," he said.
They did, and soon the place was crowded. A real revival gripped the town. That seems to be the usual thing in Finland today, for in that land of the north the showers of the latter rain are falling fast. Many invitations for similar meetings came to these young women from other places. They were being used of God to reach many hearts. But best of all, their host and his wife found the Lord. They accepted the 'message and were baptized. And when the new church was organized, with ninety-three members, this brother became the elder.
But that is not all the story. The picture house where our sisters had their accommodation was closed, of course, and today it serves as the church building. In fact, four other picture houses were closed in neighboring towns as the result of those Spirit-filled meetings.
The accompanying picture shows the first group of eighty precious souls who followed their Lord through the waters of baptism. It was taken just before the service. The baptism was conducted in one of Finland's lovely lakes.
This surely is a testimony to the blessing of the Lord on the work of consecrated women. Yes, the Lord is wonderfully blessing our loyal Bible instructors. No work is more noble or brings greater joy. God bless our consecrated, hard-working sisters!
R. A. A.