Two decades after planting The River Foursquare Church in Fort Collins, Colo., Foursquare Missions International (FMI) Missionaries Brett and Tammy Toft are pursuing a new missiology for post-Christian Europe. The seeds of this vision sprouted at their Colorado church and later grew during the couple’s missions service in Norway.
Pastors of a newly planted church in Tallinn, Estonia, both Brett and Tammy are active in ministry outreach. Brett oversees Serve the City (STC) Tallinn, which offers various forms of aid to the poor, orphans and others, and is a leader in STC Europe. Tammy directs The Butterfly Project, a ministry to women trapped in prostitution that grew out of STC.
The Tofts have been married for 29 years. Their daughter Shelby, 17, attends an international school in Tallinn and is an STC leader. Three older children live in Reno, Nev., although son Ronnie, 27, expects to leave in late summer for Indonesia to serve with Compassion First, a Foursquare anti-trafficking initiative.
What motivated you to leave Colorado?
Brett: Our original assignment for FMI in 2007 was to plant a church in Copenhagen, Denmark. We moved to Norway because Denmark doesn’t allow missionaries to immigrate unless an organization already exists. However, after a shift in denominational strategy, we relocated to Estonia, which we had opened to Foursquare in 1996 and had always been actively serving. Our motivation has always been to reach post-Christian Europe and people who have rejected traditional manifestations of Christianity.
What do you love most about Estonia and the Baltic region?
Brett: We have compassion for the underdogs and the oppressed; the Baltic nations fit that description. Though geographically European, Estonia’s culture and language are Nordic, with strong family ties and community life. The humility and simplicity of the Estonian soul are endearing to us. Until 1991, foreign powers occupied the nation, with Christianity considered the faith of the occupiers. As a result, Estonians are an unreached people group. They are very skeptical, watching to see if what others say is true.
How would you describe the spiritual condition of people there?
Brett: Christian beliefs have never been broadly accepted and struggle to win Estonians’ hearts. They are steeped in Europe’s post-Christian, relativistic, humanistic values and worldview. Christianity exploded after the fall of Soviet Communism, but then quickly waned with Western-style, free-market opportunities and wealth.
What have been the most rewarding aspects of helping those in need?
Brett: For me, it has kept my heart tender, and near the pain and challenge of poverty. As a senior pastor in America focused primarily on “equipping the saints,” I lost that tenderness and affinity. Equally rewarding has been to see volunteers revitalized as they find family (Ps. 68:6) and purpose beyond simply surviving the poor Estonian economy.
How many volunteers have helped with STC/Tallinn and The Butterfly Project?
Brett: To date, over 1,800 have participated, with a core of about 300 regular volunteers.
How have short-term missions teams been of help to your ministry?
Brett: In the beginning, visitors provided needed momentum, but now they add an international flair. Our serving community is young (average age 24) and sees their generation as a global family, so it encourages and excites them. While we do not “need” foreign teams, we enjoy introducing Estonians to our larger Foursquare family. This is a tremendous help to our churches.
What do you see for the future of your ministry?
Brett: We see ourselves as catalysts for missions and church formation where it is either stalled or non-existent. By reproducing this strategy in other cities and nations in Europe, we can extend God’s kingdom and our Foursquare family. We have already inspired or helped start STC with FMI missionaries in Budapest, Galway, Ireland, Poland and a second in Estonia (Kohila). We believe there are many places that are fertile ground for this missional approach.
What are some specific ways that members in the U.S. can pray for you?
Brett: That we would be effective in mentoring Tallinn church leaders to be able to skillfully form spiritual communities, disciple others to disciple, and multiply the church in simple, reproducible formats. Also, that The Butterfly Project would grow in impact and scope to serve women who are at risk.
What is a way people can bless you?
Brett: The hardest fact of life in missions is family left in the U.S. We would be thrilled to be provided transportation home (even in the form of frequent flier miles to help offset costs) for Tammy, Shelby and I twice a year, at Christmas and in the summer. The costs of flying from Tallinn to the West Coast are prohibitive.
More Ways to Bless the Tofts
Our Foursquare missionaries are always encouraged by and grateful for prayers and correspondence. Whether it’s a gift sent on a holiday, or simply a letter or note of encouragement, you can make a difference by expressing your support in a practical way.
Brett and Tammy Toft
Narva mnt. 17-10
10120 Tallinn, Estonia
By Ken Walker, an award-winning writer in W. Va.