Do you ever stop to wonder where the years have gone? I was thinking of this just the other day when I was looking back at all the ministry trips I’ve taken to the Eastern European country of Latvia since 1992. It seems like a long time ago that I made my first trip there but at the same time, it’s gone by like it was just yesterday. I thought I would journal some of the blessings this wonderful little country has given me and the opportunities I’ve had on some of our trips. Perhaps I can invite you to take a trip down memory lane with me as I catalog the years of ministry there.
It all started with a dream. I was standing in front of about 50 people and I was telling the story of the birth of Christ, while holding up little manger pieces. The interesting thing about this scene was that I was standing in front of a large statue of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader of the USSR. I knew when I woke up, that I had been in Russia. Thinking God might use me to take Bibles or the Gospel there, I began to pray that God would reveal a plan to me. It wasn’t long after that that our church sent a missionary, Tammy Ross to Latvia, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union.
I prayed about going with a small team there to minister with her and I felt the Lord opening that door. I had been there several days when we went walking along Brivabus Boulevard in Riga, the capital of Latvia. When we got to the end of the boulevard, Tammy told us to turn and look where we had been standing. She said “That’s where the huge statue of Lenin was, until recently removed.” I said “Oh my gosh, this is where God was sending me. Not to Russia but to Latvia.” That was in 1992 that I made my first trip and I’ve had the privilege of traveling and ministering there 25 times. Here are some highlights of those trips:
- We’ve ministered in prisons, hospitals, and schools.
- Led teams to Latvia for 18 years.
- Supported Pastor Petr Samolich and his ministry at the Riga Salvation Temple for the past 15 years.
- Distributed over 5000 Bibles to students and churches.
- Our teams have led several hundreds of people to the Lord.
- We collected, shipped and distributed hundreds of pounds of winter clothing for children in the schools.
- We collected brand new school supplies that were being discarded from a local elementary school. Many of these items that we took were not provided for the children.
- Supported and worked at multiple summer camps in Vecmilgravis and Ropaji.
- Organized and led seminars and conferences for 14 years in multiple cities including Riga, Ventspils, Tallin, and Liapajia to thousands of people.
- Prepared food for children in soup kitchens at Riga Salvation Temple.
- Spoke at all night prayer vigils in Kuldiga.
- Led teams to Latvia for 18 years.
- Along with our generous financial supporters here in America, we’ve provided needed funding for critical improvement and repairs, such as furnaces and refurbishing.
God has truly opened doors for us and provided the necessary funds for all these endeavors. Without the love and support, both financial and prayer, we would have never been able to minister to and bless so many people there. What began as a simple dream has resulted in a lifetime of love to the Latvian and Russian people. Hopefully the door to this former Soviet country will remain open.
Many of you who are receiving this letter have been one of those generous persons I mentioned. Even though you might not have gone personally to Latvia, you have made possible for others to go. I believe that what we have accomplished, working together as a unified body, for the people of Latvia, will be reciprocated to us in America. My prayer is that He will bless you and prosper you as well.