How long have you been giving out Bibles?
The work that became known as Eastern European Mission (EEM) began in 1961 with six couples heading off to Vienna, Austria on student visas. While they didn’t attend class, they were very busy working on ways to smuggle the Bible through the “Iron Curtain” and into the former Communist Bloc countries. The work expanded greatly with the fall of “The Wall” in 1989. Today EEM no longer smuggles Bibles and delivers by truckload, package or by hand. Free to all. To men, women and children throughout Eastern Europe.
How many countries have/do you work in?
Our work focuses on the former Communist Bloc countries and the count has changed over the years as geo-political changes have taken place in Eastern Europe. However, we currently work in over 20 countries in a given year and supply Bibles and biblical literature in 18 languages.
How many people work for you and do you have people that work for you in Europe?
Currently, we have 12 full-time and 1 part-time U.S. employees. This includes our total office staff, development staff and executive team members.
In Eastern Europe, we have eight full-time employees and 10 part-time employees in total, including office staff and executive team members.
The ministry is a small, but very efficient group. Our work allows us to partner with many different ministries who are on the front lines distributing our Bibles to the people of Eastern Europe. All free of charge.
How did you meet people in the government who let you put Bibles in public schools?
The stories and methods vary greatly, but ultimately we credit God with providing the opportunities to meet key people with great vision. We’ve learned that they all possess a unique vision and heart to change their countries and people for good. Click here to learn more.
Why are you just in Eastern Europe? Do you ever plan on working in any other parts of the world?
Our work is focused on Eastern Europe because our roots began there and it was our focus for so many years. After the fall of “The Wall” many ministries and missionaries flooded into Eastern Europe and our work flourished. However, in the early 2000s many ministries and missionaries pulled out of Eastern Europe and EEM evaluated our work at that time. It was decided that we should stay focused on the original call of the ministry, as we still saw a great need for the Bible in this part of the world. Today, we are grateful for the vision of those making the decision then to “stay the course” as we see God continue to use us for great things in this part of the world.
Do you print your own Bibles?
In most instances we do our own printing. We no longer have printing presses in Vienna, instead opting to print in country, as much as possible with local, reliable printers. This helps on both customs costs and speed of delivery. We also purchase and/or collaborate with other Bible producers for increased efficiency or availability. Biblica for instance has been a long-time ministry partner for us.
Does anybody else do what you’re doing, either in Eastern Europe or elsewhere in the world?
Others do translate, print and distribute, but to our knowledge, we are the only one who provide it free of charge and on the scale or distribution we do, particularly with our Bibles in public schools efforts (see www.milliondollarsunday.org for more information on these efforts)
Do you need volunteers for anything besides youth camps?
Yes. While our primary volunteer effort is for the camps, we are continuing to asses the needs of the people in Eastern Europe and are developing programs to address those needs. Most often when a need is surfaced, we can partner with another ministry to fulfill that specific need. This helps us continue to avoid duplication of efforts and makes both ministries much more efficient. Our role is often the role of support and supply and we are happy to do it.
Are you planning on growing in the coming years, and if so, by how much?
We are a ministry, we do believe in good business practices and most of our executive team is made up of previous business executives, so the question of growth comes up often. We are committed to grow as much as God will allow and lead. Our growth will be lead by the opportunities that God continues to provide in answer to the needs in Eastern Europe. As to how much we will grow, this is where we have to take off our “business hats” and “step out of the boat” to answer God’s calling. He’s continually putting projects on our plate that we simply can’t solve from a business point of view, but he always responds to our step of faith. And we are humbled and grateful for it.
Do you ever partner with any other organizations?
Absolutely, it’s one of the most rewarding ways we accomplish our mission. We love to be able to supply Bibles to other ministries and mission groups, free of charge, allowing them to focus on their specific purpose in the field. It’s in these types of efforts where we see funds double in the effort.
Do you ever follow up with the people that get the Bibles?
We do, but often it is the ministry partner that does the follow up. We often see follow-up in the form of another request for Bibles for family members and/or by friends who also want to have a Bible in their own language.
How are you connected to the local churches in Eastern Europe?
Our connection with local churches is typically one of partnership. We supply Bibles and biblical literature to them for their local evangelistic purposes. It’s amazing to see their excitement about sharing God’s message of love with their countrymen. They do this through work with orphanages, the elderly, schools and in many cases, simply being “out on the street” sharing the message.
What translation do you use?
This question does come up frequently and we have to first understand the Bible from a world viewpoint and not our western mindset. The reliable Bible translations we have available to us in the western world all have originated from the original texts and so this is also true for the Eastern European translations we provide. If we translated a Russian Bible, for instance, from the NIV, American Standard or KJV many, many words and concepts would be simply incorrect as it would be a translation of a translation. We strive to provide reliable and accurate options in each country that we provide Bibles. For a more detailed explanation of this process, click here to read more.