Our History

SurprisedBookCover

In Surprised by the Father’s Plan, BBI’s history comes alive through countless fascinating stories and great photos.

According to His Purpose

A Brief History of Bridge Builders International: 1930–2014

By Charles Kelley

Bridge Builders International was formally established in 1994 as a Christian mission organization designed to transform the nation of Latvia, and beyond, with the love and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Over the years, the main strategy employed has been the building of bridges from the West to the East, and in the process touch and bless churches, church plants, camps, Christian school, farmers, students, radio stations, publishing houses, seminaries, orphanages, social service agencies, and indigenous missionary efforts, throughout the nation.  The vision was to build 1,000 bridges to Latvia…in Latvia…from Latvia.  Over the years, some 4,000 people from twenty nations, representing hundreds of churches and organizations have been involved in either ongoing partnerships with Latvian counterparts, or specific ministry and humanitarian projects.

The history of BBI is intrinsically linked to my own personal history and the history of my family. The actual work and ministry that BBI represents began many decades ago when my grandfather, Rev. Charles W. Singer, a prominent pastor in Latvia, established the Latvian Faith Mission in 1930.  LFM was established to build connections from Western Europe, especially the UK, to Latvia.  These connections strengthened Latvian churches, church plants, schools and indigenous missionary efforts.  World War II sharply interrupted the work of LFM.  Rev. Singer and his family fled from Stalin’s second invasion of Latvia in 1944. They were loaded on a Nazi cargo ship and taken to Poland to work in slave labor camps. Miraculously they survived the war, lived in refugee camps in Germany and then, in 1949 immigrated to the US,

 

  • The following are defining moments:
  • 1930 -> Latvian Faith Mission established by Rev. Charles Singer
  • 1940 -> LFM works disrupted because of WWII
  • 1952 -> LFM is born again at International Refugee Mission…operates until 1996
  • 1985 -> Chuck’s first trip to Soviet Latvia
  • 1989 -> Chuck meets Almers Ludviks at Lausanne II in Manila
  • 1989 -> Major evangelistic opportunities and fruitfulness
  • 1990 -> First sister church partnership program began
  • 1991 -> Hope ’91, a major international evangelistic project, takes place in Latvia touching thousands
  • 1992 -> Hope ’92 takes places in Riga
  • 1993 -> Latvians take the gospel to Russian speaking Muslims…in Turkmenistan
  • 1993 -> New Christian school established in Riga…in partnership with Oregon schools and ministries
  • 1994 -> Latvians see hundreds of Muslims comes to Christ in Turkmenistan
  • 1994 -> BBI officially established in Oregon as 501 (c)(3)
  • 1995 -> Many more sister churches from the US get involved
  • 1995 -> Doors to Turkmenistan are closed, Latvians focus on other Russian-speaking Muslims
  • 1996 -> IRM, led by Charles Singer, merges with BBI
  • 1997 -> Many more sister churches involved
  • 1997 -> Charles Singer dies
  • 1997 -> First US Christian business executives team comes to Latvia
  • 1998 -> BBI opens Latvian affiliate, Partners Association, directed by Almers Ludviks
  • 1998 -> Major humanitarian project in Latvia in partnership with NW Medical teams
  • 1998 -> More sister churches involved
  • 1999 -> First Prayer Days takes place (annual since)
  • 1999 -> Led by Dr. Dan White and Sam Bradley, the first annual Dental team ministers in poor regions of Latvia
  • 1999 -> Led by Charlie Fischer, Hope for Farm Families begins
  • 1999 -> Hope ’99 with Luis Palau, directed by BBI and Partners
  • 1999 -> Latvia’s President Guntis Ulmanis and wife, make public professions of faith
  • 2000 -> BBI leads three week goodwill tour in US for Ulmanis
  • 2000 -> Major partnership projects involving big churches from Texas
  • 2001 -> BBI leads Latvian economic development summit with Latvian Ambassador at Stanford University
  • 2002 -> More major partnership projects
  • 2002 -> BBI helps launch the Latvian Evangelical Alliance
  • 2002 -> Dustin Peterson founds Eagle’s Wings Camp in Ergli
  • 2003 -> Kelley received the Order of the Three Stars from the Latvian President
  • 2004 -> Tom White speaks at Prayer Days
  • 2004 -> BBI invites Thomas Kinkade to Latvia to build bridges to the worlds of art and culture
  • 2004 -> BBI arranges black gospel music outreach tour with Alvin Isaacs
  • 2004 -> BBI organizes its first Art Camp for children (40% were orphans)
  • 2005 -> First Mission Days takes place (annually since)
  • 2005 -> Dee Duke speaks at Prayer Days
  • 2006 -> BBI helps establish Latvian Prayer Breakfast Movement
  • 2006 -> BBI missionary, Dustin Peterson, plants new church in Madona
  • 2006 -> BBI arranges another black gospel music outreach tour with Alvin Isaacs
  • 2007 -> Steve Macchia speaks at Prayer Days
  • 2007 -> Eagles Wings Camp established (led by BBI missionaries)
  • 2007 -> BBI helps establish Baltic Pastoral Institute (Kelley serves as a dean and teacher)
  • 2008 -> Don Richardson speaks at Mission Days. Peace Child put into Latvian
  • 2009 -> BBI missionaries, Petersons and Roths, plants new church in Ergli
  • 2009 -> Wally Schoon speaks at Prayer Days
  • 2009 -> Eagle’s Wings Camp continues to develop, touching 1500
  • 2009 -> Jeff Fountain speaks at Mission Days
  • 2009 -> Orphan ministry specialist, Jaycee Jensen, joins the team
  • 2009 -> Many, fruitful sister church partnership projects during the summer
  • 2009 -> Plans underway for Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham
  • 2010 -> Lindsay Brown speaks at Mission Days
  • 2010 -> Festival of Hope takes place in Riga
  • 2010 -> 11 Latvians take part in Lausanne III in Cape Town
  • 2010 -> The first annual Global Leadership Summit Latvia. BBI provides administrative support. Many hundreds trained every year since.
  • 2010 -> First class graduates from Baltic Pastoral Institute
  • 2011 -> BBI establishes Celebrate Recovery Latvia
  • 2011 -> Led by Jaycee Jensen, first annual Thrive Orphan Camp
  • 2011 -> Chuck speaks at European Leadership Forum in Hungary
  • 2012 -> Becky Pippert speaks at Mission Days
  • 2012 -> Stacy and Paula Rinehart speak at Prayer Days.
  • 2012 -> Gregg Cantelmo teaches at Baltic Pastoral Institute
  • 2012 -> Bill Zipp teaches at Baltic Pastoral Institute.
  • 2012 -> BBI organizes first “I am Loved” Women’s conference takes place. Shelly Volkhart is special speaker.
  • 2012 -> BBI begins to minister to the Latvian community in Ireland. Paula Hewitt moves to Dublin. 15 Latvians from 8 ministries participate.
  • 2012 -> BBI begins to bring Christian artists together for fellowship and mobilization.
  • 2012 -> Art outreach in Mersrags
  • 2013 -> Paula Hewitt moves to Dublin, Ireland to minister to Latvian women
  • 2013 -> Specialized ministry to financial and business leaders by Prabhu Guptara.
  • 2013 -> 25 young adults from the US volunteer with BBI’s summer orphan ministry
  • 2013 -> BBI engages Cedarstone Partners for administrative and financial services. Mailing address now in Wheaton, IL.
  • 2013 -> BBI Board Chair, Tommy Weathersbee, speaks to men in military bases.
  • 2013 -> Bill Johnson guest speaker at National Prayer Breakfast.
  • 2013 -> BBI Artist Ministry participates in the Rojal Latvian National Film Festival
  • 2014 -> “I am Loved” women’s conference in Riga.
  • 2014 -> BBI helps organize “Baltic Church Conference” with Bill Hybels. 1,000+ attend
  • 2014 -> Led by Lienite, specialized women’s ministry in Ireland.
  • 2014 -> Eight from our team receive special training at European Leadership Forum, Poland.
  • 2014 -> BBI helps w several sister church projects
  • 2014 -> Steve and Claudia Lee teach at Baltic Pastoral Institute
  • 2014 -> Very fruitful children’s and youth camps at Eagle’s Wings
  • 2014 -> Ministry in 19 orphanages
  • 2014 -> imagiNATIONS Estonian-Latvian Summer Art Festival in Tartu, Estonia.
  • 2014 -> Chuck participates in the Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Church in Illinois.
  • 2014 -> Sept. 24th marks 20 years since the BBI vision was born.
  • 2014 -> Chuck speaks at the IFES Missions Week in Jelgava
  • 2014 -> Chuck speaks at Latvian National Prayer Breakfast, held at the Academy of Art
  • 2014 -> Partners team help organize the Latvian Global Leadership Summit in Riga.
  • 2014 -> Construction of a new main lodge for Eagle’s Wings Camp begins.
  • 2015 -> Katie Leatherwood, of Athens, TX, is appointed as a career missionary with BBI.
  • 2015 -> Led by Lienite, specialized women’s ministry in Ireland. Shelly Volkhardt is the special speaker.
  • 2015 -> Paula Rinehart and Connally Gilliam minister at “I Am Loved” conferences in Riga and Liepaja.
  • 2015 -> Chuck speaks at “The State of Europe Forum” in Riga.
  • 2015 -> More fruitful children’s and youth camps at Eagle’s Wings
  • 2015 -> Ministry in 17 orphanages.
  • 2015 -> The construction of the lodge at Eagle’s Wings Camp is successfully completed and the building is put into full use.
  • 2015 -> Partners team help organize the Latvian Global Leadership Summit in Riga.

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