Beginnings in Kaunas
Joe R. Price
After several months of preparation, a prolonged effort to preach the gospel in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, started on 15 March, 1994, with the arrival of Steve Wallace. Joe Price arrived a week later on 22 March.
Much logistical preparation had already taken place before our arrival. Derek Chambers and Jay Horsley, who are living in Vilnius, Lithuania, had a good supply of tracts on hand in both the Lithuanian and Russian languages. Natives of Kaunas who spoke English had been found to work as interpreters, and cheap, adequate lodging was supplied by a local hotel.
As with previous efforts that have taken place in Lithuania, two basic methods were used to reach people with the gospel: (1) We set up a table full of literature almost daily on the busy Laisves Aleja (Liberty Avenue), the main street of the city, which is limited to pedestrian traffic: (2) Bible lectures were held at a hall in the town center every Sunday afternoon. Somewhere between 30 and 70 people took literature every day. In addition to the tracts, we handed out hundreds of invitations to our Bible lectures each day at the table. We kept an interpreter with us at the table and as a result, had a number of discussions and studies with people who stopped to ask questions. The attendance at the Bible lectures grew continually, from eight the first Sunday Steve was there to twenty-three four weeks later, Joe's last Sunday there. (We have learned that the next Sunday saw thirty-one in attendance at the lectures.) After each lecture we opened the floor for questions and the interest was very good. One Sunday we had two and a half hours worth of questions! Some private studies grew out of both our street work and the lectures.
Inasmuch as we have made good use thus far of literature, we spent much time when we were free from other demands on getting more tracts translated into Lithuanian and on working with an interpreter in the proofreading of tracts that had been already translated in order to get them into final form. This is a very tedious task which usually takes 8-10 hours per tract.
The Lithuanian people are very friendly and the acts of kindness that were shown to us during our stay were many. The country is predominately Roman Catholic. Still, we made contact with many different religious groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Baptists, Charismatics and Pentecostals. Many people were intrigued in simple, New Testament Christianity without being members of any sect.
We were surprised at the number of western goods that are now available in the stores in Lithuania. One shop in Vilnius almost makes one think he is in America! While western products may be on the shelves, they need more on the roads. During peak hours there would be more room in a sardine can than in a Lithuanian bus!
As Steve's time in Lithuania was just about finished. Randy Blackaby of Kokomo, Indiana, arrived to take his place. His first week in Kaunas was filled with orientation. He and Joe had several private studies that week, and various contacts were made which helped make this an easy transition of workers. Two days after Joe returned home, Bill Bynum of the Czech Republic joined Randy in Kaunas.
Each Sunday evening we drove to Vilnius to be with the brethren there. Derek and Jay are doing good work with the small church there. Since no spiritual songs in the Lithuanian language have yet been found, Derek has been working with a translator in translating familiar English songs into Lithuanian. Jay has been able to get them printed so that one thinks he is looking at a page from Sacred Selections. Jay has also been hard at work getting tracts translated into Russian, having gotten five new ones translated in recent months. On Tuesdays they are having special classes with a brother in the church there who has shown a lot of promise. They are hoping that this training will result in his one day being the preacher for the church there. They all came to Kaunas one Tuesday and worked with us at the table. The aforementioned brother made interpreters unnecessary, as he handled those who stopped in a commendable way.
This beginning has encouraged us to believe that a church will be established in Kaunas. Teaching efforts will continue through most of May. One brother has shown interest in moving to Kaunas to work there on a more permanent basis. If you are interested in teaching the gospel in Lithuania, please contact either of us.
We want to thank the brethren who supported in this effort. The Bay City, TX church, which sup-ported Steve, and the Prosser, WA and Corinth church in Bremen, AL, which supplied Joe's support. Also, thanks to the Kaysville, UT church, which supplied Lithuanian New Testaments to assist in the work. Your contributions to the spread of the gospel are most appreciated.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 12, p. 10-11