The time for a Christmas letter has come again. How are you, my friend? How did the year 2006 treat you? I would like to hear your news in your Christmas letter. Isnít it strange how every year feels shorter than the previous one? Believe it or not, in less than three years I will be sixty! In a way it feels silly to write a Christmas letter as if it was a report, but I donít know any other way to do it. Fasten your seatbelts - I will just tell you shortly what happened to me during the year 2006.
The big event of this year was the journey of three months: March and May in Mon-golia and April in Sib-eria. I was teaching Glad Tidings Bible studies (GTBS) and the Bible in some congregations and Bible schools. It was my tenth visit to M-ongolia, but when it comes to Rus-sia, I have lost the count. The Christian population in Mongo-lia is growing steadily, and I have got some good friends there by now.
When I think back to my journey, I can remember many a wonderful moment. Most of you know that I love mountains, but we donít have them here in Finland. That is why I seized the opportunity to climb many Mongolian ones, in a blizzard in March and amid alpine flowers in May. Also in that area opera and ballet are ten times cheaper than in my own country, so I viewed a total of fifteen in Mon-golia and in Rus-sia -- such a joy for me!
I was allowed to visit a prison a few times and teach GTBS there, even inside the closed compartment, where the inmates were suffering very long confinements. The prison was a changed place because of a revival. Every fourth inmate was baptized or waiting to be baptized, and many more were interested in Christianity. A dark place had changed to a place of hope.
Less wonderful moments also abounded during my journey: freezing cold inside and outside the house, sand storms, snow storms, exhaustion, troubles with police (in Siberia), thieves, dangerous roads and what not. But without that, I'd have had no adventure. Anyway, I thank God for opening all these doors to so many interesting countries.
In autumn I received a permission to write a book, the name of which will be "Heroes and Cowards" (some life stories from the Bible). The publisher has already sold the book to bookshops, even though I am not even half way through it. I donít know who is more stressed because of this project, the publisher or the writer. The only good thing in this situation is that Christian publishers nowadays accept my books without as much as reading them first.
During this year I have became a TV evangelist, too. I have a 15-minute program every Monday night on a Christian network. Nothing spectacular, I just tell stories from the Bible. First it was the women of the Bible, now it is Jeremiah. In the year 2007, God willing, it will be the book of Job and after that a Glad Tidings training course. This program can be seen in the internet at www.tv7.fi but unfortunately only in Finnish.
There is one thing I would like you to pray for me: in February, God willing, I will visit an African country in order to teach GTBS there. This country is not the easiest place in the world, especially for Christians.
If you need a Glad Tidings Bible study guide for teenagers in English, there is one on this website. Soon we will also publish a guide called "Da Vinci -Code and the Original Documents".
In July I may take part in IFES world assembly in Canada.
Nothing new with the student ministry, nothing new with my family.
May God bless richly the year 2007 for you!