I’ve just returned from a very cold and snowy Latvia addressing soldiers on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan to join the US, British and Australian forces there. I had an adventurous three days with a lot of traveling on icy roads to the various military bases across this Eastern European nation.
The theme agreed on by the Chaplains and Military headquarters, was “Fulfilling your Destiny with Hope and Courage – using your special talents and abilities” with the accent on preparing for eternity with a vital faith in Jesus. I also focused on their need to give quality time to their family, social and spiritual lives. Apparently nothing like this has ever been done in Latvia for the military. I think they have seen a terrible side of the desert war and some of their colleagues killed, and didn’t quite know how to handle it. This turned out to be a miracle occurrence, so the chaplain general, Elmers, said. He contacted my manager and pastor friends in Latvia, they contacted me and I was given this awesome privilege. This is the first time Elmers on the left
an opening for this type of ministry has happened.
On the first day I visited the Riga Army Base close to the capital city to conduct evangelistic seminars to a group of new recruits into the permanent forces. The attention was very respectful and the response to my challenge to receive Christ was instant. Although most of the soldiers understood English, my young interpreter, Karlis, was very accurate and professional as he translated my messages into Latvian. The local chaplain was so encouraged and was looking forward to the soldiers coming to him for follow up counseling.
Immediately afterwards we were driven the naval base at Liepaja 3 hours drive to the Baltic west coast, for two seminars to the professional naval staff and recruits. Again the attention and response to the message was amazing. After that we were taken on a tour of a minesweeper warship where we were treated like royalty.
We then had a mad 2 and a half hours dash back Riga for the Wednesday evening service for the people of the Word of Truth Church who came out in exceedingly cold weather (minus 20 degrees and deep snow) to attend the service. They really appreciated the encouragement from God’s word.
The next day we had a 200 km drive through beautiful but icy-cold countryside to Aluksne in the east, near the Russian border. This is one of the coldest parts of the country in winter. At the Aluksne Military Base I had three sessions to three different groups of men and women preparing to go to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The local chaplain, David, was a little apprehensive at my direct approach but relaxed when he saw how intent the soldiers were to embrace the message of Christ.
At all the bases I visited I gave the local chaplains a big public compliment and urged the soldiers to come to them for counseling and fellowship, which they greatly appreciated. I’ve just had an email from my manager saying, “One of the officers in the Aluksne headquarters came to the chaplain yesterday and insisted to pray with him a sinners prayer and gave his life to the Lord! Praise God!” That’s just the start.
In all these situations there were a lot of people who were from Lutheran background. When I mentioned that in my early years (1992 to 1996) the invitations to minister in Latvia had come from two successive Lutheran Archbishops who had become my friends, the barriers began to melt and hearts opened to the message.
On the final day we were driven 25 kms to the Adazi Latvian Batalian Base, where about 250 soldiers attended the seminars. These were special operations men and women in the category of “marines, navy seals and SAS” who really paid attention to the seminars. At the invitation to receive Christ into their lives, stood respectfully to their feet in prayer. Many had the opportunity to come to a personal faith in the Lord.
Those three icy days in Latvia ministering to the Latvian army were incredibly fruitful, with 600 hundred troops in 4 different bases across the nation (and 1500 kms travelled) being exposed to the gospel.So many spiritually hungry men and women had the opportunity to open their hearts to Jesus. The chaplain general was so excited that he has invited me back in July this year to follow up on this outreach and to do the seminars in bases we couldn’t get to this time.
I thank the Lord for this miracle. Thank you, my friends, for your kind encouragement. Bless you for your prayers and support