By Randy Blackaby
The good reception given the preaching of the gospel in Kaunas, Lithuania this spring nearly demands a longer term effort and, ideally, the commitment of a preacher to a year or more of full-time evangelism in this city of 430,000 people.
As the accompanying article already has indicated, crowds at the Sunday lectures were steadily increasing as interested people returned week after week and additional students were convinced to attend.
Imagine getting 30 or more people to attend a meeting in this country by simply handing out tiny printed invitations in front of a local grocery store. That’s what is happening in Lithuania. These people will listen to an hour or more of lectures and then ask questions for two or more hours. The type of questions asked reflect both the confusion caused by centuries of Catholic tradition and an eagerness to learn more about what the Bible teaches.
After Bill Bynum and I left Kaunas May 3, Brother Thomas Bunting of Bergen, Norway took over the work. His son was to join him a week later. Recently, I have learned that Derek Chambers and Ivan Valdez will continue this spring’s effort through the end of June.
Steve Wallace already is planning to return this September and we are hoping more brethren from the United States will commit to three or four weeks each to keep the evangelism of this city alive well into the fall.
But beyond these initial forays into this once closed country, there is a critical need for a longer term effort, similar to the work being done in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, by brother Chambers and Jay Horsley. Are there brethren ready to accept such a challenge?
If there are conversions in Kaunas in the next few months there must be someone there to help these new Christians grow in the faith.
One thing we observed is that the window of opportunity doesn’t stay wide open long in these former communist countries. Already the denominations are beginning to flood into the region. We saw evidence of strong efforts by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostal groups. If the truth can be widely and repeatedly taught before the errors of these groups take a major hold, the cause of Christ will be greatly enhanced.
At present, evangelistic endeavors in Lithuania can be carried out inexpensively. For about $1,500 to $1,700 a preacher can spend an entire month preaching there. This includes air fare, hotel accommodations, transportation, meals, advertising, translators and rental of lecture rooms. This economy makes it possible for even smaller congregations to underwrite the shorter term efforts.
Eastern Europe is full to opportunities to preach the gospel. And, as quickly as things are changing in this part of the world, we don’t really know how long those opportunities will be present.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 12, p. 11
June 16, 1994