Eastern European Mission: ‘Over the hill’ at 40? Not this ministry.
Today EEM teaches public seminars, provides values-based materials to public schools, and is invited to distribute God’s Word throughout countries which fell in 1989 with the notorious Iron Curtain, said President Frank Farr.
In reflecting on the changes that have taken place since the Wall fell, Murray Czec-zotka, director of EEM European Operations, observed, “Once upon a time we were printing New Testaments the size of a pack of cigarettes [in order to smuggle them into Curtain countries]. Many who tried to distribute Bibles … were arrested and sentenced to prison terms.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Eastern Euro-pean Mission, a ministry to distribute Christian printed matter to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, according to President Frank Farr.
A highlight of its current operations is a seminar on Moral and Ethical Values Education, scheduled for October. Requested by the Volgograd, Russia, State Pedagogical Institute, the most prestigious teacher training university in Russia, and by the national Minister of Education, it will feature Prentice Meador, minister of the Prestoncrest church, Dallas, as the keynoter.
EEM began as a dream of missionary Gwen Hensley. His equipment was a mimeograph machine. In 1975 the McGehee Trust, Jacksonville, Fla., provided a Heidelburg Press and other equipment for a publishing operation in Vienna.
It was Hensley’s hope, according to former EEM president John Sudbury, to use Bibles in the languages of the different peoples in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as a means of establishing one congregation in each of these countries.
Since 1961 nearly 10 million Bibles and Scripture portions have been printed in all the languages of Eastern Europe and Russia, Farr said.
Originally overseen by the Quanah, Texas, church, in 1978 the Bammel Road church in Houston accepted this challenge.
John D. Sudbury became president of EEM in 1983, establishing his office in Houston. Murray Czeczotka, Fort Worth, Texas, was appointed director of operations.
During the late 80s Sudbury and other friends of EEM worked to establish a congregation in a strategic center of Russia, Rostov-on-Don. Today, this congregation is one of the largest in Russia and serves as a distribution center for EEM.
Pleas for materials continue to be received from 30 or more nations. Both basic Bible and moral/ethical courses are being taught in thousands of Russian schools, with the materials provided by EEM, Farr added.
“EEM is a success due to the partnership of Christians who have worked together to see that the people of Eastern Europe and Russia receive the Good News,” Farr said.