The earliest inhabitants of Finland possibly arrived there by way of the Volga River in southern Russia. The Finnish people benefited from relationships with Vikings from Sweden, who traded with them. Swedish influence rooted itself deeply into Finnish culture, and in the mid-1100s Sweden completed total conquest of Finland.
Sweden held on to Finland until 1809, when Finland became a grand duchy of Russia. However, when World War I and a subsequent revolution distracted the Russian government, Finns took advantage and declared independence in 1917. The emerging Soviet government in Russia had no choice but to recognize Finnish independence.
In World War II Finland declared neutrality but was forced to defend itself from the Soviet Union. After the war Finland was forced to pay reparations. For decades it dealt with the presence of communism along its borders and rebuilt its industries. Today Finland has a democratic parliament.
Pentecostalism came to Finland in the 1910s, but the Finnish Pentecostal Movement (Helluntaiherätys) was not centrally organized until recently. In the 1970s a great revival occurred in Helsinki, the capital. Fida International, the nation’s largest Pentecostal missionary-sending organization, represents the Movement abroad. Fida International welcomed Global University into IK College in 1994. Since then Global University courses have trained believers to be pastors and missionaries. The Assemblies of God sent its first missionary to Finland in 2000 and has continued to work closely with the Movement.
The Movement Today
A majority of Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church (85 percent). Almost 12 percent claim no religion, and1 percent are Greek Orthodox or Pentecostal. The Assemblies of God reports the following statistics for Finland in 2003: 230 Finnish-speaking Pentecostal churches with 45,417 members and 33 Swedish-speaking Pentecostal churches with 2435 members. Fida International has sent over 412 Pentecostal missionaries to 45 countries.
Additional Facts About Finland
Area: 130,559 square miles
Population: 5.5 million
Urbanization: 85.4 percent
Ethnic Groups: Finnish (93 percent) and Swedish (6 percent)
Economy: industry, mining, agriculture, and a strong service sector
Industry: fishing, mineral and metal mining, paper products, woodworking, shipbuilding, heavy machinery, glass, ceramics, textiles, and chemicals