The Work in Scandinavia

History Book
History Book
History Book

The first Apostolic Faith missionaries to leave the Portland headquarters for foreign lands went to Scandinavia in the spring of 1911. Marking the trail ahead of them was the literature printed in Portland, which entered those northern lands in the early part of the twentieth century. Many in that area became hungry for the deeper spiritual experiences they had read about in the literature, and a few years later, when personal missionaries arrived, they warmly welcomed them.

Raymond Crawford (right), Overseer of the Apostolic Faith work, and Olaf Tonning (left), board a plane for Norway.

Then a Norwegian man and his wife felt the call to go to their native land and preach the Gospel. In 1913, others took leave for Norway. The newly arrived group from Portland, together with the workers who had gone before, joined in holding meetings in Stavanger. They experienced much opposition in preaching the fullness of the Gospel, but the revival fires continued to burn. Souls were saved, sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Spirit. The revival spread, and in time, groups of believers were meeting in several locations. The Apostolic Faith currently has churches in Stavanger and Tromsø, as well as a small group that meets in Silsand, south of Tromsø.

Some of those gathered at the camp meeting in Stavanger, Norway, in 1945.

Norwegian tracts and papers were printed in Portland by the thousands and distributed throughout the country. Later, a printing plant was set up in the Stavanger church, and tracts and papers were produced there. The number of subscribers increased from 400 to more than 20,000 in twenty years.

Workers in Scandinavia were diligent in printing and distributing Gospel literature.

The headquarters church for the Scandinavian work was established in Stavanger in 1925. Atop the building an electric sign was erected, proclaiming in the Norwegian language, “Jesus verdens lys,” the same message as the “Jesus the Light of the World” sign on the Portland headquarters church. There was opposition from influential citizens who tried to have it torn down, but it became a symbol of Stavanger. When the building was sold in 1993, and a new building constructed in a residential area, the sign was declared a historical landmark by the local government. It has been restored and connected to the streetlights, and the municipality pays for the upkeep!

The sign from the Stavanger Apostolic Faith Church, which is now a historical landmark.

A work among children has been a successful outreach effort by the Stavanger congregation. After moving to the new church location, they were situated much closer to where children lived. They currently hold weekly children’s meetings, where Bible stories, crafts, and refreshments are part of the activities for various age groups. A number of Muslim children attend these meetings, and some times accept the invitation to the services on Sundays. At times, they have over sixty children in attendance.

LeRoy Tonning, District Superintendent of Scandinavia Work, preaches at a recent camp meeting in Norway.

A work among the people of Denmark was also begun through the distribution of literature. A Norwegian woman gave some tracts to a Danish blacksmith in 1926. This man was a Christian who longed for more of God, and in the tracts he read about the deeper spiritual experiences his soul craved. He wrote to the Scandinavian headquarters in Stavanger, and soon Christian workers came to his hometown and held evangelistic services. People from surrounding areas attended the meetings, and before long, a branch of the Apostolic Faith work was established in Horsens, Denmark. Later, two Danish sisters who had been saved in the meetings in Horsens were the starting point for another Denmark branch, this one in the city of Copenhagen. For many years, a small printing plant at the Horsens church published a Danish Apostolic Faith paper and other Gospel tracts. Thousands of pieces of literature were distributed throughout the country of Denmark through this means.

Henry and Bitte Sorensen, who were key to the development of the workin Denmark.

The Apostolic Faith in Finland also began in the early part of the twentieth century when many people in that country were hungering for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and began seeking for more light on deeper spiritual truths. By the year 1910, Apostolic Faith papers in the Finnish language were being mailed from members of the Portland congregation to friends and relatives in Finland. These people in turn sent in names of others to whom they wished the literature mailed. A large correspondence work among the Finnish people soon developed. Cottage prayer meetings were begun in different localities. A group in Vaasa was established as an Apostolic Faith branch church, and from this group, workers went to other areas distributing the literature and spreading the Gospel truths. In time, other churches were established in different parts of Finland.

Lari Lepisto, long-time leader of the work in Finland, visited Portland with his wife, Karina.

As the years have come and gone, Gospel outreach in the Scandinavian countries has become more difficult. Old-timers in the Scandinavian work have passed on, and much of the society now seems uninterested in the Gospel, being firmly entrenched in formal religious practice. However, the Light continues to shine out. A camp meeting convention is held each year in Stavanger, Norway, and the people of God scattered throughout the Scandinavian countries come together and worship with other believers there. In recent years, delegates have also attended this camp meeting from Apostolic Faith churches in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world.

The facility where the Scandinavian camp meeting is currently held.