February 11

Over time Northern Europe threw off the yoke of Catholicism, becoming enslaved within Protestantism. The country of Estonia, for example, embraced Lutheranism. But in 1877 three Swedish missionaries began to preach a new doctrine among the Swedish immigrants within the country. The new doctrine included the need of personal repentance and faith in Christ. Crowds were drawn to the enthusiastic missionaries, and so many were converted that the government deported the preachers. But with that, many untrained national converts took up the work, preaching to Swedes and Estonians alike. These people were not Baptists, but their doctrine, especially their soteriology, was sufficiently Biblical that more and more new converts were being prepared for the Truth.

There was at the time a German Baptist in St. Petersburg, Russia, named Adam Schiewe. When a few Estonian believers asked him to come over to help them, he agreed. After a period of preaching and teaching, on this day (February 11) in 1884 Schiewe baptized 9 people at Hapsal. Then the following day, when the temperature was reported to be 19 degrees, in full view of several thousand spectators, he baptized 15 more. A riot then ensued. Shots were fired and lumps of ice were thrown at the new converts. Perhaps showing God’s approval no one was seriously injured.

Despite on-going persecution, Schiewe continued to visit and minister in Tallin, Estonia, while another German Baptist missionary started a church in neighboring Riga, Latvia. The believers endured a great deal of persecution and privation with such longsuffering and grace that eventually their neighbors began to appreciate their faith and way of life. Then things became considerably worse with the Russian Revolution.

Both Communism and the Russian Orthodox religion has tried to destroy the Baptist ministry in the Baltic countries, but they failed. Sadly where they failed, liberalism and secularism succeeded. Such is the case in many countries. Including our own.