OMS Outreach OMS Online January-April 2019 - Page 14

By Colleen Weaver, OMS Coordinator for Discipleship and Leadership Development When a train pulls into the station in the United Kingdom, a warning announcement comes over the loud speaker call- ing everyone to “mind the gap.” The narrow space between the train and the platform is the gap where ankles can be twisted, items dropped, and shoes or wheels can be- come wedged. Two possible synonyms for the word gap are “void” and “opening,” and it is these words that characterize the gaps that One Mission Society missionaries Mark and Livia Nelson are “minding” in Estonia. Estonia is a small country in northern Europe. Although Christianity has been present in Estonia for centuries, the devastation of wars and communist oc- cupation have negatively impacted people’s concept of God. This has turned a majority of Estonians away from organized religion, such as the Christian church, and toward other types of spirituality such as astrology and fortune telling. Mark currently serves as the academic dean at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Livia does informal Bible teaching and discipleship. Together, they have identified a void in the theological formation of many who are enrolling in the seminary. The students come seeking basic Bible, theological, and spiritual formation because they have experienced a void in the Christian education and discipleship offered by their home churches. Once enrolled, these students unfortunately discover that they are unprepared for the level of education offered by the seminary. They lack the necessary foundation for the course work and often have not yet developed clarity about their ministry calling and gifts. But gaps are also openings, and Livia and Mark see this formational gap as a call to go to the communities where there are few opportunities for basic theological education. The Nelsons recognize that it is essential to facilitate and 14