Estonia 2019

Erik Stammer

Support Letter

Dear Supporters,

 

Once again, I have the opportunity to return to Estonia to continue the work I started last summer. I will serve as an intern from May 28 – Aug. 2, with Josiah Venture, a Christian missionary organization with a vision to be part of a movement of God among the youth of Central and Eastern Europe that finds its home in the local church and transforms society. Their mission is to equip young leaders to fulfill Christ’s commission through the local church.

 

Estonia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. They didn’t gain their independence from Russia until 1991 and right now Estonia is consider as one of the most secular countries.

 

I will work alongside several local churches, using my love of soccer as a way to connect to teenage boys, during week-long camps. Playing soccer with them will give me an opportunity to bond and make relationships, and be able to share my faith with them in the evenings, leading them into a growing relationship with Jesus. I am looking forward to strengthening the relationships I had made last year, and making new ones as well. In particular, I can’t wait to reconnect with Mihkel to hear about his life and faith in God. This past summer, we read from the Bible and talked about it for well over an hour. I sensed the Holy Spirit working in both of our lives during this experience.

 

In order for me to return, I need a team to pray for me, and to financially invest. Will you pray for me, and for the work we will do there? Pray for my preparations, that all my support will come in, and that I’d be the Lord’s servant. If you’d like to be on my prayer team, please email me at erikstammer18@gmail.com, and I’ll add you to my prayer updates.

 

In addition, I need to raise $4,800. This amount covers airfare, housing, all other travel expenses, and training. The support is needed by the end of April, 2019. If you’d like to invest, you can either send donations directly to Josiah Venture at https://www.josiahventure.com/people-and-places/interns/ (Click on my photo to give. There is a 3-4% fee added to all credit card donations.). Or, you can complete and return the enclosed response slip, and mail to Josiah Venture, P.O. Box 4317, Wheaton, Il. 60189-4317. Please make checks payable to Josiah Venture, put my name on the memo line. All donations are tax-deductible.

 

Lord willing, while I am in Estonia, I want to 1) share my faith with those who don’t know Christ or who don’t have a strong relationship with Christ. And, 2) personally grow spiritually – to grow in my faith in the Lord, grow closer to Him. And, to grow as a man and make me a better person.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

 

Erik Stammer

 

Follow me this summer on my blog at: erikstammer.simplesite.com

Made it to Estonia (6/10/19)

Dear Supporters,

Thank you very much for all support I have received these last few months, from all the donations that were given, to all of the positive words of encouragement, to all of the prayers for this summer. I feel truly blessed by all of you and the Lord to have another opportunity to serve God, the church, and people in Estonia this summer, which without all of you wouldn’t have been possible.

We made it safely to the Czech Republic on May 29th where we stayed for a week to have training and where we got to know everyone we will be serving with this summer. We made it safely to Estonia on June 8th after the 20-hour drive. Today we begin preparing for the camps; from promoting the camps to preparing the talks we will give.

This is my team that I will beworking with this summer, Cade (far left, from Kansas), Indrek (second from the left, from Estonia), me, and Andrew (far right, from Wheaton Il.). One challenge we had to do was sew a doll (who we named Ruth) who I am holding.

Again, I want to thank everyone for all the prayers and ask for continued prayers throughout the summer. I pray that the Lord uses me to share His word to all of the guys I will meet this summer. I also pray that I may grow closer to the Lord and get to know Him even more.

In His Name,

Erik Stammer

 

Risti Soccer Camp

First soccer camp went very well in Risti. This camp was a usual soccer camp in that we had the same schedule as the one from last year. I was able to lead a few of the practices we had and help the guys grow in their skills on the soccer field. I was disappointed when I found out Mihkel, one of the campers I really got to know well last year, wasn’t at the camp. However, I was able to meet with him during the camp and talk to him during the week of camp. Unfortunately, since I last saw him, he has started smoking and drinking much more than he had a year ago. He also hasn’t been attending many bible studies or participating in anything. We talked for awhile but it was heartbreaking hearing about his life and the decisions he is making with his life. Also, at the camp I got to lead a small group with two guys; Martin, who I got to know very well from last year, and Otto, my girlfriends’ little brother. We had good conversations for the first few days but sadly Martin had to leave halfway through the camp. In a way this was a blessing as I got one on one time with Otto. He started sharing about his life and what he thought about his faith. Every day I could see he was getting closer to believing in God. On the last day he not only prayed for me but he boldly proclaimed his faith in Christ. He shared so much with me and we came so close. I was so blessed to be part of his life and help him come and learn about the Lord.

Small group with Otto and Martin

Leading practice

Meal time

Group photo

Toompea

Toompea is a church that is located in Tallinn that isn’t apart of the Edge ministry “yet”. Our job was to help them to start an Edge ministry at this church. Our goal for this was to meet with a few local leaders from the church, to go out to local fields and find guys, and invite them to play soccer with us and see if they would be interested in hearing about our Edge league and sharing about our faith. We went for two days and the response was amazing. Both days we had over 15 guys show up and were eager to play with us and not only that but also hear what we had to say. They were writing the leaders and asking them when they were coming and we even met with a local coach who wanted to bring more guys the following days and was very thankful that his players got to play with Christ like men. This was a great opportunity for me to see how a church starts its ministry instead of just seeing how a ministry usually operates.

Rakvere

Last camp was an unusual camp in that it was a combination of both soccer and music. During the day, the 2 camps would be together but other times we would practice soccer and they would practice instruments or singing. This was the most tiring and physically draining camp I had ever been to. This camp we only had about 8 guys for the soccer part but in total we had about 70 kids (altogether there was a little over 100 of us). This camp is very well run in that they have many local leaders and many of the youth are already believers. During this camp I got to lead about half of the soccer practices we had. Since this camp was the first of its kind and so unique, I wasn’t able to be a part of any small groups. This camp, I was more supporting the local leaders and encouraging others whereas camps before I was sharing gospel. I was able to continue to talk to Otto and his thoughts about God now that he had had some time to think about it since the last camp. We had some good conversations but none like we had the camp before. On the last day I was able to give a small devotion for the leaders before the campers woke up. I encouraged them to continue all the amazing work they are doing and how blessed all the kids are to have them in their lives. After the camp I felt a bit disappointed because I felt I hadn’t had more meaningful interactions; looking back I felt that I could have done more. The next day I was talking with Jette (Otto’s) sister, and she wanted to thank me for all of the things I had done to help her brother the past week. I was a bit surprised by this and asked “What do you mean? I don’t think I really did my very best.” She told me I was being ridiculous and told me about the ride home when Otto’s mom and her picked him up and brought him back home when camp ended. She told me for the whole hour-long car ride he was talking about how awesome the camp was but more importantly how amazing God is. He was telling his mom all the stories we shared during the week. He said “Mom, do you know the story of the lost sheep?” then he told his mom the story and after he was done, he said “isn’t it amazing how God loves us so much He does the same thing for us?”. He continued telling all the other stories that were told to him in the camp and just kept saying how amazing God is and “mom, why don’t you believe?”. After hearing this I realized truly how much of an impact I had made in his life, both the camp before where we had very deep and meaningful conversations but also this camp where I was more of a friend to him and just was there to support him. This made me realize how God works in mysterious but amazing ways and that I don’t always have to be saying the best prayer or giving the best bible study but just living my life for Christ and letting Him do the rest. In total 9 students gave their lives to Christ during this camp!

Group photo

Introducing ourselves when camp starts

Attempting to read the camp rules in Estonian

Leading bible study early in the morning on the last day when everyone is tired

One of the many campers (Josep)

My team and I for a camp activity

Helping with the Prayer Walk. This is a time where the students get to reflect on the week and their lives and really decide if they want to follow Jesus. This is where most of the campers give their lives to Christ.

Teleios Camp

For the final camp, things were a bit different. Instead of having a week long camp for kids we hade a 3 day camp for the older guys who have been part of the camp for awhile and players of Teleios. Teleios is an adult team that the leaders of the mission use as a way to reach the youth as well. The point of the team is to keep the guys engaged with soccer and with God after they are to old for the camps and also to help the leaders grow in their faith as well. This camp was unique in that we were able to have some deeper discusions with some believers and with some of the other guys on the team who arent believers. We were also able to go deeper into discusion and also worship together which we normally wouldn't do with some of the younger guys. It was very reassuring and interesting to hear a few of the believers testimonies. How they came to faith and about their lives. It was amazing to me how they came to their faith when they wanted to get a divorce and instead looked to God or how someone was in and out of prison and was doing drugs and looked to God for guidence and help and turned their lives around. I know this camp was not only for them but also for me> It gave me courage and reassruance in my faith and that God is with all of them and with me.

Camp picture

Camp talk after a hard practice

Teleios team huddle before our game

After our 4-2 loss

Thank You

I want to thank everyone who supported me before I left this summer, while I was gone, and even when I returned. Thank you for all of the monitary support, thank you for all of the kind words, but most importantly thank you very much for all of the prayers. I wouldn't have been able to have these amazing and life changing experiences or change the lives of the people I met in Estonia without everyone one of you. May God be with you all. Thank you very much.

God Bless,

Erik Stammer

Team photo