Born 1932 in Laukaa, Western Finland
Born into a Christian Family and
Coming to the Lord
Anja was born in 1932 in the small town of Laukaa, in western Finland. She grew up in a Christian family with seven children. Their home was in an industrial area, but her father cut down some trees in the forest in order to acquire new land both for their house and a small field. The children were accustomed to working hard from a young age. Later, Anja felt that this had been very helpful for her entire life.
Already from her early years, she was attracted to a worldly lifestyle. Confirmation class at age fifteen had no influence on her. When the pastor asked: "Do you want to follow the Lord Jesus?" She kept quiet and closed her mouth. The years passed and her closest friends married. She became more and more lonely and felt at home neither in the world nor in the congregation.
In 1954, she began work in a Christian care institution for mentally handicapped people. The life of young believers impressed her. She was aware that God was calling her, but the gate was too narrow. Her resistance to God was broken down when her ten-year-old brother died unexpectedly. Some months after his death, there was a series of evangelistic meetings in their neighborhood and she went to listen.
On a certain Saturday, she felt that God was calling her, but she ran away. When she went to church on the following Sunday, she had already made her decision for God. After his sermon, the preacher encouraged those who wanted to make their lives right with God to remain in the church. This time, she had the courage to stay while others left. She wept and was aware that God had touched her through the preacher. They knelt down to pray and the preacher laid his hands on her head and proclaimed the forgiveness of her sins according to the words of Jesus: Whatever you bind on the earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
She left with joy in her heart, understanding the need to confess her trespasses to people. That was the beginning of her walk on the Way of Life.
Working in Israel
Through Carmel, Anja was given an opportunity to go to Israel to serve Jewish people. God answered her doubts through 2 Chronicles 29:10-11: "Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, to minister before Him and burn incense."
Anja joined a group that arrived in Israel in the summer of 1964. It was a great year, with many trips all over the country. Even though it was not always so easy, she wanted to stay in Israel. However, she had some doubts regarding her stay, because she could not communicate in any language except Finnish and had no family in Israel. In spit of this, she found confirmation of her decision in Isaiah 28:16: "So this is what the sovereign Lord says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation the one who trusts will never be dismayed".
God was faithful through all Anja's years in Israel. Praise to Him for that! She worked and served in different places for seventeen years: on a kibbutz, in consulates, and in private homes around Israel. She also was able to study Hebrew in a language school.
Marriage to a Messianic Jewish Man
While living in Ramat Gan and taking care of an elderly Jewish lady, she met Gedaliah at her congregation. He was a widower and was seeking for a wife. When he asked for her hand, it was not an easy decision as they did not have a common language. She spoke Hebrew and Finnish and he spoke only Russian. Finally, they married in spring 1981 and Gedaliah learned some Hebrew. They lived together for twenty years in the Nazareth area. Anja felt that, through her husband, the God of Israel had joined her to his own nation. In 2001, the time came for Gedaliah to leave this earthly life.
After being widowed, a friend recommended to Anja that she should work as a volunteer in the Ebenezer Home and in spring 2002 this became a reality. Help was needed in sewing and she began working twice a week. In autumn 2002, Jostein and Eva Aune, the Norwegian manager and his wife, enabled Anja to become a resident of the Home. She could have managed living in an external flat, but could not comprehend the idea of moving once again in the future. Today, Anja is thankful to the Lord for the Ebenezer Home and also to those who support it.
In those days, there was not too much talk about the Jewish people in the congregations. When Anja finally learned that the Jewish nation still existed, she was filled with a longing to live and serve among them. She heard of a Finnish organization named 'Carmel' that sent young volunteers to Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim, near Jerusalem, every year. This group also founded Moshav Yad Hashmona.