Latvians on the Emerald Island
By Lienite Bemera
Vineta (BBI/Partners administrator), Tomass (BPI student) and Lienite (BBI/Partners director) – we three went to meet the Latvian church in Ireland. Chuck Kelley received the vision to minister to Latvians in Ireland in January 2012, during Mission Days in Riga and already after 5 months went on a mission trip. And this is the true story of three missionaries who had never beenn a mission trip before.
There are from 30,000 to 50,000 Latvians in Ireland. (The total population of Latvia is 2.5 million.) These people went there because of despair to pay back the bank loans or to find jobs when the economical crises hit Latvia. It is a huge financial exile of modern age that breaks families, lives and dreams.
Our idea is to have Mission days in Ireland with a focus on discipleship was welcomed with joy and appreciation and dates already are planed. Latvia has lots of ways to support and encourage our brothers and sisters in Ireland – with teachers, materials and tools.
As we were preparing for this trip we prayed and asked God what is His goal for us in Ireland. We didn’t know what to expect. Will we be welcomed in their families? Will they trust us? Latvians are reserved people; they don’t trust people easily. We were a bit scared and we needed people to pray for us. Then God’s agenda revealed itself – to be open to whatever will happen and be a support and blessing to these people; and to and love them in any way we can. God hasn’t forgotten these people; He loves them and he wanted us to show respect and love. We asked that God would use each one of us there according to our gifts and beyond.
And we experienced more then we could imagine. During this time we lived in two homes with two families and we were so blessed by their hospitality, love and care for us. They prepared Latvian food; had Latvian television channels and all the time we talked in Latvian language, so actually we sometimes lost a track: are we in Latvia or … where?
We experienced special blessings from having taken part in different house groups led by Pastor Artis Druvietis, Brother Imants Miezis and others. It was a huge surprise to see how different these groups were.
I had the impression of Acts where people gather in homes, eat food, share testimonies, pray together and have fellowship. Sometimes these house groups went from noon til late at night. I was so impressed by the fact that Baptists, Lutherans and Charismatic Christians are all in one Church and one Body. They are united by God and by the language they speak. They all are in a foreign land and they want to worship God in their native language.
Our idea is to have Mission days in Ireland with a focus on discipleship was welcomed with joy and appreciation and dates already are planed. Latvia has lots of ways to support and encourage our brothers and sisters in Ireland – with teachers, materials and tools. Now we will start to prepare for new surprises from our Father in Heaven.