Trusting One Another More Than Ever Before

Note from Chuck Kelley:  BBI organized the first Prayer Days in 1999. Ever since there have been many other such important three-day retreats for pastors, missionaries, ministry leaders and pastoral students. I wrote this article 21 years ago after returning home from Prayer Days 2002. The ever-growing power of extended prayer and fellowship is seen at Latvia’s third Prayer Days which took place at the Hotel Liesma in Jurmala in late January, the coldest time of the year.

Who came to Prayer Days 2002?

  • Pastors • Denominational Leaders• Bishops • Musicians • Youth Leaders • Social Workers • Business Executives • City Councilmen • Members of Parliament • Broadcasters • Publishers • Men • Women • Missionaries • Foreign • Baptists • Lutherans • Pentecostals • Methodists • Russians • Ukrainians • Belarusians • Americans • Brits • Latvians.

Why did they gather?

  • To hug • To cry • To form friendships • To deepen relationships • To glorify God • To pray • To sing • To worship • To learn • To discuss • To drink coffee • To dream • To plan • To strategize • To swim • To sit in the sauna and tell jokes.

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 major on minors and focus on secondary issues that divide. Rather, they recognize that if the nation is going to be 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 Retreat began with a two-hour vision session focused on the next major saturation evangelism initiative – Baltic Hope – which will take place in 2005 and 2006. It was the first of what will, no doubt, be countless, creative yet constructive planning sessions to lift the banner of the Lordship of Christ higher than ever before in Latvia.

During the first evening of the Prayer Retreat, young people from various churches and student movements shared the needs of Latvian youth and how to pray for them. It was beautiful to watch middle-aged and older pastors respond to the worship leading of teenage musicians playing the guitar, bass, saxophone, and drums.

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.

This year’s Prayer Days had an added component of six elective enrichment tracks, led by national leaders and foreign guests. David New of Reedsport, OR really connected with a group of Russian pastors as they explored the topic of pastoral care together. Dennis Kizziar of Sisters, OR, felt like he touched a nerve when he shared principles of biblical leadership over a 6-hour period with about 20 pastors.

BBI’s Mike Parker teamed with Latvian pastor Edgars Mazis in focusing on the priority of outreach in Latvia and 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 Director, shared how God blessed when he was involved in seven outreach trips to Turkmenistan in the 1990s. Hearts were stirred with the challenge to give and to go to the unreached peoples of the former Soviet Union.

Pastor Ainars Bastiks, of Matthew Baptist Church, led a very interesting presentation on Church Renewal and Growth. It was more highly attended than any other. Leaders from the Latvian Youth Network, Igors Rautmanis, Ungars Gulbis and Peteris Sprogis, focused their workshop on helping pastors create an environment in the local church where youth will want to be actively involved.

During one of the morning worship sessions, a Russian worship team from Liepaja communicated a tremendous amount of. love and respect to the Latvians by choosing songs in the Latvian language. Only those who understand the deep-
seeded negative feelings that the two ethnic groups have experienced over the years can understand the significance of this ‘bridge building’ step. The Latvians responded by singing heartily unto the Lord.

A moving prayer session was held to commission 20 leaders who will represent Latvia at Hope 21, a major 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 special field trips to Slovakia and Romania to gain firsthand 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 impact their nation more effectively.

This is the power of Bridge Building when it is undergirded by prolonged and strategic prayer. To God be the glory!