I clearly remember a Soviet tank crossing my home street in Estonia on the morning of the 19th of August, 1991, 30 years ago. I was 16 and had never seen the military turning against people. “So this is what the launch of war looks like.

Seeing the first tank causes a shock, but then it becomes normality, ” I thought and continued to my volunteer summer job on board of YWAM’s Mercy Ship MS Anastasis. I arrived only to learn that the border had been closed and the foreign vessel had been asked to leave harbour by the military supporting the coup of communist hardliners.

Instead of work, the volunteers were free to attend spontaneous prayer meetings at the churches while others went to create human shields at strategically important locations. Another day passed, however, and the news was overwhelming. The coup had failed, the military had stood down and Estonia had declared its lost independence again.

As the Republic of Estonia is celebrating 30 years of its restored freedom, I humbly give thanks to God for small beginnings as I stand with my people again.  Estonia has been blessed with freedom, economic growth and times of peace.

As I write these lines, this European Union member nation holds a seat at the UN Security Council to pursue peace on behalf of others instead of being in turmoil itself.  It is no longer “a small beginning” although its population size may so indicate.  

In addition to giving thanks to God, the sustainer and guarantor of freedom, I also express the gratitude of believers and churches that have prayed, encouraged and supported this independence journey.

Finally, I congratulate all Estonians on their special day. May the good news of faith, growth, and blessing continue rising from the Southern Coast of the Gulf of Finland!

About the author :

Gunnar Mägi is an Estonian pastor and a doctoral student. He works for the United Bible Societies as a Church Relations Manager. He is married to Jill and they have three adult children.


The impressions expressed in the blog posts are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.