a facility that will be home to Tartu Academy of Theology
as well as an Outreach Center with several Christian ministries
The vision of HOME of HOPE started to take shape in early spring of 2018 and was launched with 100 dollars under God’s guidance in April of the same year. Six weeks later we had raised $125,000 earnest money. Sixteen months later we had raised $557,255 and we took out a $1,3 million loan for 5 years. September 19, 2019 the Christian college of Tartu Academy of Theology (TAT) became the occupants of a property of very good value. We have experienced tremendous blessing and December 2, 2019 HOME of HOPE will be officially opened. This facility is a landmark for Estonian people testifying that God is alive.
We hope that all the damage caused by Soviet occupation throughout 50 years will be cleared up one day. People often lose their hope and they need encouragement. With a Home of Hope we want to form an environment where people can see how God is working in so many different ways among us. Home of Hope would not be just a study facility but a collection of activities and organizations exploding the message of Jesus Christ to the people in Estonia and beyond.
Pastor Siimon Haamer with keys in front of HOME of HOPE after Tartu Academy of Theology gained ownership of the facility
September 19, 2019
Let Siimon Haamer know about your initiative
Siimon Haamer is sharing about Estonia, Home of Hope and Tartu Academy of Theology
Siimon Haamer is telling a story about the plaque.
See video where East European Missions Network directors David & Angela Breidenbach share their thoughts about Home of Hope project.
Video of TAT's previous rented facility.
Future view to the entire condominium development.
Site on September 24, 2019.
The plaque on the wall with a text: Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1. Consecration of the reconstruction of a study building of Tartu Academy of Theology, July 4th, 1995.
We tell you our story...
Our first attempt to get a home for the Tartu Academy in Estonia started in 1994. We were planning to renovate one old building in the city centrum as we had some hope to receive funds for this. We even put a plaque on the house wall on July 4th, 1995 with the words, Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). Hope was alive for several years, but when the funds didn’t come through we lost that perspective. The plaque stayed there for 17 years and people mocked our trust in God, as the building decayed. During that same time, we investigated other potential projects, but none of them seemed feasible. Seven years ago we stopped making plans and put our dreams for a own facility into God’s hands. The plaque with God’s Word was removed by the realtor as the house was renovated into a commercial apartment building. Now this plaque is in our office and is awaiting a new place where we can hang it because we know that God is building that house at the right time and in a mysterious way. And when the time is right He will guide us on that path. This is what we feel now: God is leading us and we just have to follow His guidance and take action.
Story of God’s Guidance Throughout the Century
Background of HOME of HOPE
Siimon Haamer, dean of TAT
I’m sharing with you a story that is the background and reason of the HOME of HOPE project in Estonia.
My grandfather, Harri Haamer, was ordained in 1929 and the story of a pastors’ dynasty began. Harri experienced hardships during his 58 years of service as a Lutheran pastor, because he suffered together with his nation under those difficulties Estonians were facing because of World War 2 and aggressive atheistic Soviet occupation that began in 1940. During the first 10 years of occupation about 70% of Estonian Lutheran Church pastors were killed, imprisoned, deported to Siberia or escaped to western countries.
My grandfather wasn’t afraid to continue proclaiming the Word of God during Soviet occupation, although it was life threatening. He got his punishment. He was arrested in 1948 and was accused of organizing youth work at the church. He spent 8 years of his life in slave labor camps in Siberia but while there he didn’t stop being a pastor. He survived and returned and pastored 32 more years until he died in 1987. He wrote also book "We Shall Live in Heaven" about his journey to Siberia. The book is available for downloading in English here.
I recently read my grandfather’s diary. At the end of the 1950’s, after he was back from Siberia, he wrote that it is so sad that young people are taken away from churches and there is no Christian education at school. He was writing to Soviet authorities and explaining why it’s important to educate young people in the Christian mindset and was hoping that his concerns would get their attention. But of course, nobody listened to him and he just got in trouble and the KGB (Russian secret police) wasn’t very friendly to him.
Going back to the end of the 1940’s… after my grandfather was arrested, the rest of his family needed to escape from their home a year later, because Russian authorities wanted to deport them to Siberia as well. A result of this was that my father, along with his mother, had to hide 6 years in the forest, 4 years of that time living in an underground bunker. He was 13 years old at the onset of his journey of Golgotha.
My father Eenok got very ill in the bunker and was lying there weeks without seeing any daylight and receiving any medical care. He has told me that there was a moment when he felt himself being on the edge of life and death. God gifted him life and it is clear that this gift was given on purpose. Hardships in the bunker were preparations for the future. In 1964, my father Eenok became an ordained Lutheran pastor.
Under pressure and persecution Christians need strong pioneers who know that if there is no opportunity for a better life…no future, no solution, no food, that there is always Jesus Christ our Savior who is very, very close. And then, one can joyfully sing praise songs–praising the Lord for those bitter thorns that wound. Eenok has been such a Christian leader for 56 years and today at 83 years old is still continuing to serve three congregations.
Eenok had the privilege of seeing Estonia regain its independence in 1991. Being independent again also meant that oppression toward Christians was finished. Since that time, we are able to speak and work freely without any fear but the problem is that during 50 years of aggressive atheistic propaganda continuity of our Christian identity was severed. Now we are trying to work hard to heal our country from this damage but there needs to be much effort for this to happen.
A large part of the work to be done is through the Christian college, Tartu Academy of Theology (TAT), established by my father in 1992 to train Christian leaders. Home of Hope is the result and the natural continuity of 27 years of the good, fruitful work of TAT.
A meaningful part of this story is that my two older brothers and myself are all Lutheran pastors as well. We chose to become pastors already while under Soviet occupation. We are carrying on this legacy that began about a hundred years ago. Our story continues and we are convinced that HOME of HOPE has a very important role in this continuing story.
HOME of HOPE Ministry Snapshots
Tartu Academy of Theology (TAT)
Christian college TAT is the owner and main organization at HOME of HOPE. TAT is responsible for running the center and co-operating with organizations that will support the vision. In 2013 TAT entered into co-operation with the Estonian Lutheran Church Seminary. Now together, we pass along Bible-based teaching and have experienced growth in the student body. Together we train:
- Chaplains for prison, the army, hospital and the police
- Pastoral care givers and counselors
- Church musicians
- Christian youth workers
- Christian media specialists
- & offer many continuing education courses
Vocational Bible School
In addition to our regular bachelor and master degree study programs we’ll establish Vocational Bible School in co-operation with St Paul Lutheran Church, located just across the street. Bible studies will take place in the evening or morning once or twice per week. We also welcome non-religious people. In Estonia people who are not affiliated with any church are often hesitant to attend events and studies that take place in the church. Since HOME of HOPE is not a church this opens a door for people to freely participate.
Christian Radio Station
The radio station broadcasts 24/7 all over Estonia and to a large part of Russia. Every Sunday there are 6 services from various churches on the air. According to feedback, non-Christians are also listening because this is the only Estonia wide radio station producing and broadcasting programs that nurture people’s hearts.
Big Classroom at Home of Hope on Sept. 24th, 2019.
Radio staff is having their first coffee break in their new rooms. August 21, 2019.
Pastoral Care Center
Estonian people are very much in need of spiritual help but many of them don’t know where to find it. Often, they are hesitant to go to church because of fear their minds will be messed up there. This was the goal of Soviet authorities during 50 years of occupation. Now people want to make their own decisions for their lives. Clear evidence of spiritual need is evident in the huge popularity of self-help literature, new age philosophies and different kinds of spiritual practices. We need places outside of Church buildings that support people in their spiritual struggles. The Pastoral Care Center will be offering that opportunity and, at the same time, provide a coordination center for Estonia’s wide network of pastoral care givers.
Pastor Siimon Haamer is sharing a story that demonstrates the need for these efforts.
Not long ago, I ordered a taxi. Sitting in the car, I heard praise music. The radio channel that was playing was the same Christian Radio Station that is becoming part of Home of Hope. I asked, “Do you listen to Family Radio?” He said that this is the only radio station where he can listen to programs that nurture his soul. He confessed that he is not Christian and not baptised. He has had difficulties in his life lately – marriage broken a year ago and mother died two weeks ago – and he is in need of spiritual support. I asked why he is not going to church. Church seemed too formal for him and he didn’t wan’t to belong to any particular Church. Also, he was waiting for a sign, a conviction that now is the right time to go to church or to take some kind of step. At the same time he confessed that he is believing that so called god is excisting, and he also prays.
This is typical attitude of Estonian people. We want to help them.
Spiritual Mentoring Center
We recently conducted a year-long training course for spiritual mentors for Lutheran Church pastors. Today we are building up the mentoring system in the Estonian Lutheran Church. Pastors often feel alone and abandoned and they need support. Unfortunately, many of them won’t take any action to find a spiritual mentor. That’s why we need to offer opportunities for them. As it’s very difficult to get those who have pastored 10-15 years or more involved in the mentoring program, we are putting our main focus on young pastors who have recently graduated from the seminary or are still studying. This brings a new attitude into the church and changes a pastor’s mindset little by little, building a healthier body of pastors.
Space for Pastoral Care Center at Home of Hope on Seot. 24th, 2019.
Space for Spiritual Mentoring Center and pop-up office at Home of Hope on Sept. 24th, 2019.
Youth and Student Activities
Union of Evangelical Students
Tartu University, Estonia’s oldest and largest university (est. 1632) is located in Tartu, a city of 100,000 inhabitants and about 20,000 students. There are various student organizations including the Union of Evangelical Students which has an interdenominational approach. We hope to have good collaboration with them and we will open our rooms for their events.
Scout and Guide Troops
This autumn some scout and guide troops will start to use our space regularly for their meetings. In the 1990’s, scouting was one of the youth ministries held in many congregations in Estonia but today scouting is less connected with churches. We want to introduce scouting again as one attracting opportunity for church youth work.
Youth Bible Camps
In co-operation with East European Missions Network and other Christians from the United States we have organized English Bible camps for adults since 2006. In August 2019 we had the first Bible camp for youth which was very fruitful. It seems that a Christian youth group may be forming from English Bible camp participants.
Bible Camp youth in Aug. 2019.
Server Room for Estonian Bible Website
At HOME of HOPE we will not only have a special server room for Christian Radio servers but also a server that hosts the Estonian Bible internet version. This will provide much more secure conditions for the server, as currently, it is located in the kitchen of one of TAT’s alumni who is maintaining the Bible website.
Guest Apartment/Dorm With 2 Rooms and 4 Beds
This space could be used also as a regular apartment or additional office space. Both rooms of the apartment have removable glass walls that can be easily removed to make the space more open.
How we run the HOME of HOPE
- All organizations occupying the space we own will pay rent.
- At least one week per month classrooms for trainings, seminars, conferences etc. will be rented out.
- The guest apartment will be rented out.
- Various organized events will bring additional income.
- To manage the whole building all owners of condos (the remainder of the building is condos) will form a housing association to manage the building and deal with everyday tasks. Therefore, we don’t need to deal with daily management questions by ourselves and don’t need to hire an additional employee for that.
- According to the business plan we are able to cover all regular costs of the facility and to earn additionally $25,000 USD profit per year, which can then be used in financing the mission.
Room setting at HOME of HOPE--4811 sq ft on the ground floor:
*Big classroom--36 seats
*Small classroom--12 seats
*Big & small classroom merged--48 seats
*Medium classroom--18 seats
*Reading room/small group class--8 seats
*Multipurpose main hall-club room (including reading room)
*TAT’s main office and dean’s office
*Multipurpose pop-up office & spiritual mentoring center for pastors & lay leaders
*Room for pastoral care center
*Christian Radio office and 3 studios
*Guest apartment/dorm & prospectively also office space
*Storage & archive space on the main floor and in the basement
*9 parking spaces in the underground parking lot
*Server room in the basement
- Across the street from St. Paul Church (http://tartupauluse.ee/en) which is one of the biggest churches in Estonia
- smaller parking lot next to the building and a big, free-of-charge city parking lot within 0,25 miles
- central train and bus station 0,6 miles
- city centrum 0,4 miles
- two hostels 0,2 miles.
- Unique environment with about 1500 people living in surrounding houses http://riiakvartal.ee/galerii
YOU CAN HELP!
- Pray God’s blessing for our project.
- Become our fundraising partner and share information about our project and needs. All materials are available on our website.
- Donate to the Home of Hope.
We do not have any fundraising administration costs as all this work will be done voluntarily.
With any questions and ideas contact TAT dean Siimon Haamer and let him know.
cell & FaceTime: +372 5159127
To find information about different giving options click here.
Our sincere appeal is not for you to substitute current giving with funding for the facility project. We are only able to commit to this new facility with special, additional funding that God makes available to us through you.
How will donors be remembered in the Home of Hope?
- Any amount given from $100 to $9,999 USD will be celebrated with your name on the wall next to our facility’s chapel.
- After Home of Hope is built, the plaque with God’s promise, that is central in our building story, will get an honorable place there and we will add another plaque below with those names of God’s ambassadors who want to give strong testimony that God’s Word is trustworthy, by donating to our facility purchase at least $10,000 USD.
- By giving $50,000 USD you will receive additional recognition with your name on one of TAT’s three offices, the Family Radio office or the Pastoral Care Center office.
- By giving $60,000 USD you will receive additional recognition with your name listed as donor on our small classroom.
- By giving $70,000 USD you will receive additional recognition with your name listed as donor for our medium classroom.
- By giving $80,000 USD you will receive additional recognition with your name listed as donor on our chapel.
- By giving $150,000 USD you will receive additional recognition with your name listed as donor for our big classroom.
- By giving $200,000 USD you will receive additional recognition with your name listed as donor for our main hall with reading room.
- By giving at least $1,000,000 USD we will name our facility according to the donor name.
David & Barbara Lee
Chad & Laura Kourajian
Paul & Elaine Gunderson
James & Gwen Cosgrove
Curtis & Mary Levang
Bob & Patti Nordvall
First Lutheran Church, Hope MN
Augustana District of LCMC
Paul & Bobbi Knudson
Bethany Lutheran Church, McCallsburg IA
Richard & Linda Mahlow
Arne & Miriam Lagus in memoriam Eduard Lind
Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Foundation, Excelsior MN
Mot & Pam Hedges
Jim & Barbara Rasmusson
Steven & Jane Ekholm
Dale & Emilie Wilde
Steven & Lisa Tonder
Dennis & Kathy Sandmann
David & Anne Gran
Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church, Parker CO
Doug & Mary Anderson
Georgia Fellowship of LCMC
Steve & Sandy Miller
First Lutheran Church Women of the Word group, Hope MN
George & Ilze Stroebel
Donald & Kathy Nordquist
Steven J. Wadle
Robert & Dita Dow
David & Victoria Fisher
Peeter Kivestu in memoriam Endla Kivestu
St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Garfield MN
Randy & Lori Reifschneider
Ken & Jacki Meimann
Perry & Judy Ritland
Mark & Pam Hendrick
Sehlin Sidney in memoriam Eduard Lind
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, San Jose CA
Ringkobing Y's Men Club, Denmark
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Gillet WI
Paulus & Gladys Pilgrim
St. John's Women of the Word, Starbuck MN
Faith Lutheran Church, Hutchinson MN
Linda Cruz in memoriam Robert Branham
Brian & Barbara Felt
Orlando & Herdis Hash
Nathan & Ruth Hansen
Steven & Susan Davidson
John & Rondi Wussow
Thomas & Sandra Hunt
Karl & Lori Lemmerman
Ken & Julie Slag
Robert & Pamela Nelson
Paul & Marlys Coughlin
James & Linda Perhus
Keith & Linda Perhus
Michael & Patty Dwyer
Duane & Faye Wangen
Amazing Grays of Charity, Bismarck ND
Valdie & Elaine Magstadt
Keith & Delores Soiseth
Wilbert & Alvina Fueller in memoriam Susan Sletto, Alan Lommen, Ronald Freborg
Terry Sletto in memoriam Susan Sletto
John & Chara Wangen
Kent & Laura Lodge
Shalom Community Lutheran Church, Starbuck MN
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Afton MN
Sacred Word Lutheran Church, Mobridge SD
St. John's Lutheran Church, Springfield MN
Jima & DeDe Elliott
Eric & Leah Knutson
Robert & Kathy McLain
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, New York NY
First United Lutheran Church, Roseau MN
Richland Lutheran Church, Richland WA
Gary & Kathy Bahn
Bill & Carolyn Quehl
Hope Lutheran Church, Everly IA
William & Barbara Young in memoriam Eduard Lind
Mark & Jesse Goddard
David & Carol Larkin
Reformation Lutheran Church, Fortson GA
John & Harriet Lipp
Salem Lutheran Church, Roland IA
Thank you for you faithful partnership. May all of you be rewarded by God according to His mercy.
Together we'll make a difference!