The year was 1961 and in Eastern Europe the Iron Curtain was raised and “The Wall” went up. At the very same time God was calling people to take His message to those imprisoned by communism and The Wall. Seven young couples embarked on a venture to fulfill a vision formed at Abilene Christian College. Propelled by commitment to God and one another, and the support of faithful families and churches of Christ, they set out for a storybook destination — Vienna, Austria. Vienna’s proximity to Eastern Europe was a major factor as these families consulted with missionaries and spent hours in prayer about this mission.
With hearts filled with a burden for people who had never heard the Good News, they would soon experience that Bibles were practically non-existent behind the Iron Curtain. And out of this experience Eastern European Mission was born. Small. Fragile. Weak. But with a heart that beat strongly to provide Bibles to the people of Eastern Europe in their own language.
In the late 1960’s after multiple trips into Eastern European countries, one of the team members, Gwen Hensley visited villages where only one copy of the Bible was found in the entire village —— and sometimes it was just a hand-written portion. With tears in his eyes he said, “if it is the Lord’s will, and I believe it is, I am going to see that these people get the Bible in their own language.” He called this mission the “Impossible Dream” — the impossible dream of providing Bibles for the lost souls behind the Iron Curtain. Gwen decided to dedicate the rest of his life to getting God’s Word in their own languages to people who were forced to live in the Communist dominated Soviet Union.
Gwen and the mission team had previously found creative ways to smuggle and distribute limited quantities of Bibles through the Iron Curtain. Initially, small tracts and Bible study courses were produced on a small offset press and the mission moved forward with total confidence that the Lord would provide. And He did provide, a modern Heidelberg printing press and a building to house the press. This greatly accelerated the production of Bibles, resulting in many, many thrilling stories of people risking arrest and imprisonment to get thousands of Bibles through the Iron Curtain.
Then, in 1989, the truly amazing happened. Communism collapsed and “The Wall” fell. Wonderful, unanticipated changes and opportunities came rapidly. Bibles no longer had to be smuggled and American Christians rushed to preach the Word in every country of Eastern Europe. In addition to Bibles, EEM also developed biblical literature, equipping many campaign groups and thousands upon thousands of people wanting God’s Word, all free to the eager recipients. Many doors continued to fly open in the years that followed, including placement of Bibles in public schools and libraries, orphanages, hospitals and prisons, as well as churches, families, and the hearts of untold individuals all over Eastern Europe.
The Bible. We Want Everyone To Get It. These words are much more than a tagline or phrase to be associated with Eastern European Mission. They describe the heart of EEM as it was established in the very beginning and continue as its foundation and guiding force today.
Today, EEM is a multi-national non-profit and continuing the work in Eastern Europe. EEM is governed by a independent Board of Directors and under the spiritual oversight of Prestoncrest Church of Christ, Dallas, Texas.