A 66-year-old Estonian self-styled prophet and pastor, who has allegedly worked miracles both in the West African nation of Ghana, and at home in Estonia, concocting his own messianic Judaism-style faith along the way.
Benjamin Lillemäe (birth name Georg Lillemäe), a native of South Estonia, has worked as a missionary for around quarter of a century, travelling to or living in Germany, Switzerland, Israel and in various locations in Africa and the Americas. He fuses mainstream Lutheran and Roman Catholic beliefs and practices with those of Judaism and other faiths, he says, and his notoriety is such that he has an annual thanksgiving service held in his honour in Ghana, which began with a meeting with a wealthy but troubled person there and has since grown to attract as many as 100,000 worshippers.
Pastor Lillemäe said he felt God’s calling from a young age and, putting his toys to one side, gave his first sermon to his grandparents at the age of four. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, he became a Lutheran pastor in Räpina, and then in Põlva, after graduating, and it was after that that he says he became imbued with supernatural powers.
”I was there, at the altar at St. Mary’s Church, when I heard a voice for the first time, and I recularly started to hear voices from the age of 12. But at the age of 10, I had already had some strange feelings and sensations – a burning on my head, inside my hands and my body growing hotter. I heard a voice suddenly coming straight from of the sky. I knew it was God’s voice; he told me to build a new altar and temple for him, and that I was to embark on missionary work,” pastor Lillemäe said.
Following this near-Damascene event, pastor Lillemäe left the Lutheran church, early on in Estonia’s new-found period of independence, and built a new temple on a plot in Põlva, in which to practice his new-found, more Judaism-based religion, with his wife Eve providing musical accompaniment on the piano.
He wears Orthodox Judaism-inspired garb, including a prayer shawl and kippah, and has a mezuzah outside the door of his place of worship, though also makes use of Christian altars and other accoutrements.
After that he embarked on his 25-year missionary tour, which could, apparently, fill a book, though one which might be too esoteric for non-believers to grasp, Pastor Lillemäe says.
While pastor Lillemäe was unable to produce any miracles on the spot for Pealtnägija reporter Taavi Eilat, the list of witnesses to previous Lillemäe-produced wonders is apparently very long.