By Chuck Kelley
RIGA, Latvia – Who came to Prayer Days 2002?
• Pastors • Members of Parliament • Pentecostals • Denominational Leaders • Broadcasters • Methodists • Bishops • Publishers • Russians • Musicians • Men • Ukrainians • Youth Leaders • Women • Belarussians • Ministry Directors • Missionaries • Americans • Social Workers • Foreign Guests • Brits • Business Executives • Baptists • City Councilmen • Lutherans • Latvians
Why did they gather together?
• too pray • to dream • to hug • to sing • to plan • to cry • to worship • to strategize • to form new friendships • to learn • to swim • to deepen existing friendships • to discuss • to sit in the sauna • to drink coffee • to tell jokes • to glorify God
More than ever before, the Lord is blessing the spiritual leaders of Latvia with a sense of trust, one for another. Gone are the days when religious leaders in Latvia would major on the minors and focus on the secondary issues that divide. Rather, they recognize that if the nation is going to be influenced and impacted for Christ, every member of the Body is needed – high church or low church, formal worship or free expression.
It’s significant that this year’s Prayer Days began with a two-hour vision session focused on the next major saturation evangelism campaign – Baltic Hope. It was the first of what will, no doubt, be countless, creative yet constructive planning sessions in order to lift the banner of the Lordship of Christ higher than ever before in Latvia.
Baltic Hope will be a series of strategic renewal, training and harvest initiatives over a 15-month period, beginning in the Spring of 2005. Specific names of potential participants were suggested – Franklin Graham, Ravi Zacharias, Henry Blackaby, Josh McDowell, Richard Foster and more.
During the first evening of Prayer Days, young people from various churches and student movements shared the needs of Latvian youth and how to pray for them.
The next three hours went by like 30 minutes as we focused our prayers on troubled youth, drug addicts, new believers and churches that are striving to create an environment that welcomes converts from the youth culture.
Prayer Days had an added component of six elective enrichment tracks, led by national leaders and foreign guests. David New of Reedsport, Oregon, really connected with a group of Russian pastors as they explored the topic of pastoral care together. Dennis Kizziar of Sisters, Oregon, felt like he touched a nerve when he shared principles of biblical leadership over a six-hour period with about 20 pastors. They have implored him to return for more.
BBI’s Mike Parker teamed with Latvian pastor, Edgars Mazis, in focusing on the priority of outreach in Latvia and in sending missionaries from Latvia to the ends of the earth. Afterwards, many expressed that they were encouraged and motivated to demonstrate to their congregations how to become “fishers of men.” On Tuesday evening, Almers Ludviks, BBI’s Latvian National Director, shared how God blessed him when he was involved in the outreach to Turkmenistan. Hearts were stirred with the challenge to give and to go to the unreached peoples of the former Soviet Union.
At Prayer Days, Almers Ludviks also unveiled the ever-maturing model of the Latvian Evangelical Alliance, which will be formally inducted into the European Evangelical Alliance this fall.
A moving prayer session was held to commission 20 leaders who will represent Latvia at Hope 21, a quadrennial, trans-European conference in Budapest the last week of April. While at Hope 21, most of these leaders will attend the church-planting track led by The Alliance for Saturation Church Planting, of which BBI is a member organization.
These same men will then take part in a special field trip to Hungary, Slovakia and Romania to gain first-hand exposure to successful church planting models in Central Eastern Europe.
Three years ago, when this same group first came together, many were afraid to even pray with one another or bless one another. Who would have dreamt that 37 months later they would be boldly taking steps to more effectively impact their nation AND to more intentionally spread their network and influence throughout Europe. This is the power of bridge building when it is undergirded by intentional, prolonged and strategic prayer.
To God be the glory!