Choosing to Live for the Kingdom – An Award for a Lifetime
By Natalie Meeks
GREENVILLE, South Carolina – Days are defined by hours. Years are built of seasons. But a life, more than a rushing stream of time, is cultivated by how we choose to live it.
C.S. Lewis wrote that “Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.” Each and every day we are choosing.
Now or forever? Life or death? (Deuteronomy 30:19) Simultaneously, we spur one another onward, our choices and their due actions impacting countless others and casting ripples outward.
On May 20, 2017 BBI President Chuck Kelley was honored by the Latvian Baptist Union with a Lifetime Achievement Award – recognition of a life lived in the pursuit of choosing forever; of consistently (and creatively) seeking to choose and serve Him who lives, loves and reigns forever.
The award ceremony took place during the annual Latvian Baptist Union Congress in Riga and was attended by delegates from across the nation, as well as six Bridge Builders and Partners colleagues. Peteris Sprogis, Bishop of the Union, presented a documentary film covering Chuck’s life work and ministry, made especially for the award ceremony but also aired nationally on Latvian public television (click below to watch it).
For this veteran pastor and mission leader, the experience was both humbling and joyful… “I was both surprised and honored when Peteris informed me that this award would be given. And this sense of honor multiplied when they made the film about my life and ministry in Latvia. I was moved to tears at several points.”
Among those who made appearances in the film were Guntis Ulmanis, former President of Latvia, and Aleksejs Naumovs, Rector of the Latvian Academy of the Arts. Ulmanis outlined several of the bold, society-changing events Chuck founded, including Mission Days, Prayer Days, National Prayer Breakfast, and the Hope ’99 revival.
Kelley replied thoughtfully, “There’s no way I would have received this award apart from lots of love and help. I’ll always be grateful that I grew up in my grandfather’s home and for the door he opened to ministry in Latvia. I am grateful to my wife who made so much of what I’ve done possible. I’m grateful to my longtime dear friend and ministry partner in Latvia, Almers Ludviks. Many of our significant initiatives would not have happened apart from him. I’m grateful for my faithful teammates both in the US and Latvia. I’m thankful for the many men and women who have served on BBI’s Board of Directors for the last 23 years. Finally, I especially want to acknowledge two special ladies – Naomi Strauser and Vineta Zale. Their administrative support, longsuffering and enormous flexibility are deeply appreciated.”
Every day is a choice. Chuck Kelley is determined to continue choosing to live for the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom. “By God’s grace I pray to keep building bridges – between Christians and the culture, in Latvia and beyond.”
An Award for a Lifetime