HEAVENLY ASSIGNMENT- Taivaallinen toimeksianto
Jubilee Speech by President Vesa V. Viitaniemi on 17.04.2015 at Turku, Börs, Jugend Hall
HEAVENLY ASSIGNMENT (Taivaallinen toimeksianto)
Honored guests, Honorable Mama Mkapa, Austatud Peapiiskop Viilma, Honorable Minister Counsellor Msekwa, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Friends
The Finnish Businessmen Mission Union was founded almost right after Finland got its independence on the 6th of May 1920. In the rules at that time it was stated that our Union upholds and develops Evangelical Lutheran mission work both within and outside among the business people and people working in trading and manufacturing. The Finnish Businessmen Mission Union was our country’s first actual Finnish Christian association aimed for business people. The founding of the Finnish Businessmen Mission Union was the idea of a merchant in Turku called Kustaa Sikilä. He is the founder of our association, and it is because of his vision, zeal and work that our covenant already in its early days advanced to be an association spanning all of Finland. It is told that Sikilä was known as a successful Christian merchant, and his honesty could be believed and trusted. The example set by Kustaa Sikilä shows us that Christian values were not in conflict with the laws of business.
Kustaa Sikilä´s calling
Sikilä felt, and knew, as told by our chronicle, that among many Finnish business men, entrepreneurs and people working in business gospel and salvation were completely foreign. As early as in the autumn of 1917 there had been a discussion in Turku on how to win business men to the side of light and Christian values. And this work has been needed as long as our association has been operating, as long as Finland has been independent, esteemed guest, today maybe as much or even more than a hundred years ago. In the year 1920 Sikilä got a Heavenly Assignment. He tells of it so: ”On the 20th day of January I was woken by an amazing force. This calling was given to me from above: Start work to win business men for the Lord, start gathering them to co-operate with God.”
The Association got first named the Finnish Businessmen Mission Union of Southwestern Finland because it was born in Turku and among the business men living near Turku. The activity of the commissioner was during the first years indeed focused on the parishes of Southwestern Finland. The commissioner went to 20 parishes during the first year of operation, but already in the year 1922 he visited almost 70 parishes all around Finland. Thus it was justified that in 1922 our association changed its name to the Finnish Businessmen Mission Union.
Finnish Businessmen Mission Union distributing God’s word and helping our neighbor
The meaning of the Union is already stated in the name: we carry out the important imperative of Christ to distributing God’s word and helping our neighbor. Today our operations span all of Finland as mission within and our mission outside of Finland affects many lives in the neighboring countries of Russia, Estonia and even further in Africa: Ethiopia and Tanzania. Still as a significant contributor to the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission we reach people in need globally. The work of our association has touched hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people and their lives during our history. The Heavenly Assignment of Kustaa Sikilä has saved many people from the shadows to the light. I feel great humility when I can open the celebration for our association’s 95th year. At the same time I try, with my limited resources, see how immeasurably precious the work of our association has been empowering people for nearly 100 years. The work has been significant and this important work still goes on.
Honored guest, I have the pleasure of ending this welcoming speech on the words of our Honorary Member Pentti Hilke’s father, who was a soldier priest: ”The best you can do is to invest in missionary work.” Missionary work is also motivated by the thought that we shall go see the place where we send our money to make sure it is spent the way it should be. This is something the Finnish Businessmen Mission Union has held on to during all times. Investing in missionary work has also been worth it – the economy of our association is now stronger than ever!
95 years for entrepreneurship, values, missionary work and loving your neighbor. Dear Honorable Guests, you are most welcome to the Finnish Businessmen Mission Union’s 95 years anniversary.