After the Second World War, Finnish soldiers ranging from generals to privates experienced the end of the war and getting through it as God's blessing both individually and nationally. Finland had miraculously survived without a total loss against an overpowering enemy. Even some significant victories had been achieved in the summer 1944 in Karelia, resulting a re-evaluation of the situation in the Soviet Union, an armistice, and finally a peace treaty.
As soon as the Defence Forces had been transformed into peacetime organisation, Bible and prayer groups were started in several garrisons. The next step was annual national weekend conferences in garrisons. Originally these conferences were held separately for officers and NCOs. The first conference for Officers was held in Lahti 1946 and for NCOs in Helsinki 1947. There were some 250 attendees in both conferences. The conferences were arranged by voluntary individuals. Soon both officers’ and NCOs’ trade unions included spiritual committees in their organisations.
In the latter part of the fifties, the difficult economical situation hampered the arranging of the conferences. The long distances with high expenses caused problems. To pool their resources, the two trade unions (their Spiritual committees) formed "The Foundation for Officers' and NCOs' Christian Activities" in 1957. It was the birth of our foundation, the PHS. The foundation helped conference arrangements and above all gave financial support for train and bus tickets to the annual conferences.
The Spiritual Committees of the two trade unions now took turns to arrange united conferences for officers and NCOs. This went on for another decade until it was realised that the active members in the committees were the same persons who worked for the Foundation. The two committees were closed and the Foundation took their responsibilities, including arranging the annual conferences.
PHS can be translated into The Military Christian Foundation. It is an open forum to Christians who want to share their faith with others working in the Defence Forces and in the Frontier Guard. PHS is open to all Christian denominations and all professional ranks including Defence forces and Frontier Guard civilian personnel. Through history, PHS has had a close cooperation with the military chaplaincy.
The official board of the foundation originally consisted of three Officers and two NCOs/WOs. The rules were changed in 1996 as the board was opened to include civilian personnel and specialist military personnel. Now the board has eight members. The minimum of three must be officers and minimum five must be in active service.
PHS also represents Finland internationally as the Military Christian Fellowship of Finland. Colonel Jarl Jarkka not only played a crucial role in arranging the work in Finland but also started our connections to other countries. First he exchanged letters with the Swedish SKO and established contacts by attending their annual board meetings. His next correspondents were the British OCU and attending as the first Finn the FNOCU (AMCF) World Conference in Berghtesgaden, West Germany in 1961.
In our days, PHS is regularly represented in the appropriate Nordic, European and worldwide events. Finland arranged the second Nordic AMCF Conference 1989 and the fourth European Conference in Ryttylä 1993. Finland has twice arranged the Baltic Sea Bible Conference for the young officers and cadets.
The annual highlight of PHS is still the weekend conference in one of our garrisons each autumn. These conferences gather some 200 Christian Defence Forces and Frontier Guard personnel, active and retired, to rejoice in Christ.
PHS publishes a newsletter three times a year. On the mailing list, there are some 470 names. This gives a rough figure of the scope of PHS activity today.