New Europe prompts ministry to sell Vienna facility
From that base, a scant 45 minutes from the former Czechoslovakia, the ministry printed gospel tracts and tiny New Testaments and smuggled them under the Iron Curtain.
Now, in a sign of how much has changed in the 16 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the ministry has announced the pending sale of its Vienna facility.
“With the decision to outsource all of our printing, we no longer need a large facility in an industrial area of Vienna,” said Mike Armour, who becomes Eastern European Mission’s president April 1.
As the printing industry in Eastern Europe modernized, the ministry began printing Bibles and books about faith in countries where it was once illegal to possess them.
“Outsourced printing provides increased productivity and better stewardship,” said Frank Farr, who served as president during the ministry’s transition to a post-Soviet world. Farr will remain with the ministry as senior vice president, working in development and special projects.
More than threedecades ago, at the height of the Cold War, Eastern European Mission opened aprinting and distribution center in Vienna, Austria — the easternmost capitalin non-communist Europe.
From that base, ascant 45 minutes from the former Czechoslovakia, the ministry printed gospeltracts and tiny New Testaments and smuggled them under the Iron Curtain.
Now, in a sign of howmuch has changed in the 16 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, theministry has announced the pending sale of its Vienna facility.
“With the decision tooutsource all of our printing, we no longer need a large facility in anindustrial area of Vienna,” said Mike Armour, who becomes Eastern EuropeanMission’s president April 1.
As the printingindustry in Eastern Europe modernized, the ministry began printing Bibles andbooks about faith in countries where it was once illegal to possess them.
“Outsourced printingprovides increased productivity and better stewardship,” said Frank Farr, whoserved as president during the ministry’s transition to a post-Soviet world.Farr will remain with the ministry as senior vice president, working indevelopment and special projects.
Hundreds ofmissionaries and short-term workers have used Eastern European
Mission’s material,printed in about 20 languages, since the ministry’s launch in 1961.
Johnny Harris Jr.,minister for the Bumpus Mills, Tenn., church, started making mission trips toUkraine in 2004.
The ministry provideshim with Russian-language Bibles, children’s Bibles and copies of A Newcomer’sGuide to the Bible, written by Armour. Harris gives them away and said healways runs out.
Greg Timmons ofMontana-based Lifeline of Hope said that his ministry worked with EEM to get10,000 Russian-language Bibles into orphanages recently. “The problem was thecost of getting them into Russia through customs,” Timmons said.
Eastern EuropeanMission’s board decided in early 2005 to put the Vienna facility on the market,Armour said. The ministry is negotiating with an Austrian box company, andproceeds from the sale will go to EEM’s endowment. The purchase price has notbeen disclosed.
For missionaries whoremember the facility as a hub of ministry and a resting place for travelerscrossing Europe, the sale is bittersweet, said Eileen Emch, missionary inRostov-on-Don, Russia. But Emch and other missionaries said the sale is atestament to a changing Europe.
“Producing materialsin the East … simplifies delivery and gives more empowerment to those … usingthe materials,” said Bill McDonough, former missionary to Romania.
The facility alsohouses the Inzersdorf church, a multicultural congregation that will keepworshipping there for the next three years, as Eastern European Mission leasespart of the building from its new owners for offices and meeting space.
The ministry was agracious landlord, and the church had plenty of space, said Scott Hayes, whoministers to the small church alongside Stefan Krassnig. But the building isfar from central Vienna, and the church had discussed the need to move closerto the city. Church member
Reggy Hiller workswith needy families and brings some of them to church, but moving to a facilitycloser to the people she serves would help, Hayes said.
“Change is alwaysaccompanied by many unknown factors,” he said. “However, many of the unknownsturn out to be the hand of the Lord.”
In August, EasternEuropean Mission will sponsor its fourth Million Dollar Sunday fundraiser.Donations will provide Bibles and character education material for children inRussia — at the request of the country’s public schools.
Funds donated to thefirst three efforts have allowed more than 1 million children to study theBible at school, said Richard Baggett, vice president for advancement.
Theopportunities in former communist countries, especially Russia and Ukraine, are“mind-boggling,” Armour said. “As the Lord opens these doors, it is urgent forus to mount a strong, strategic response.”
April 1, 2006