Thank you so much for your wonderful support and prayers that have enabled us to bless and help so many.
In Riga, Latvia I had the privilege to minister to many needy people on Sunday morning in two churches – a Latvian Golgotha Baptist Church (pastored by the Military Chaplain-General) and the Word of Truth Church – full of needy people.
The programme on Monday was excellent with two wonderful meetings at the Military Police and the Military Staff Headquarters (the people who command and supply the rest of the military). The Lord’s presence was quite evident, touching their hearts. The response to the seminar “Stress is a Choice” was so good and I was able to share the gospel openly – so many responded. I was so grateful for your prayers.
I was even given an award certificate by Elmars Plavins (the chaplain general) from Lieutenant General Raimonds Graube the Latvian Chief of Defence, for the seminars I’d done. I told them I really didn’t deserve that, as I’d got so much enjoyment from doing the seminars and made so many good friends over the last 4 years. I give the praise to the Lord for that. Thanks for all your wonderful part in this fruitful project.
Tuesday was very busy with a great seminar meeting at the Lielvarde Air Force Base. The welcome and hospitality here is tremendous. The Commander was so gracious and gave me extra time and a quality question time afterwards. My tall interpreter, Ronald, did and excellent job translating
After that there was an hour’s drive north to Adazhi to speak at a Concert for the Latvian 1st and 2nd Battalions. The band was a group of wonderful young people that I’ve know for 20 years since they were a lot younger. What a unique opportunity to preach the gospel in 7 minutes (with interpretation) to some 300 troops and staff.
There was a National Television Crew filming the military concert. Following the concert I was asked to do a 20 minute film interview with them which went something like this – “Tell us how you got involved as a chaplain at the Olympics & Paralympics and on what issues do you counsel athletes? What are the seminars you do for the Latvian Military and how did that originate? What led you to commit your life to Jesus Christ and where has this adventure led you? You know we had a huge tragedy in Latvia recently where the roof of a supermarket collapsed, killing more than 50 people and injuring so many more. How would you advise us on helping and counselling the bereaved as well as the rescue workers who were also traumatised in recovering the mutilated bodies? (What an awesome task advising on that issue – I looked to God for guidance and wisdom on how to answer that), and finally, what message do you have for the nation for this Christmas season?”
What a privilege to be asked to do that. I am awestruck at having that honour to give counsel that will be viewed by the nation. I trust God will use it to help many needy people at this time.
I’m grateful for the indispensible part you, as our supporters have played in this fruitful project.
Back to the Military seminar programme – Wednesday was along day with an early start to travel 2 hours from Riga to Saldus to minister at the National Guard Base. The hospitality is so good and the response from the staff and troops was very encouraging.
We then drove the 90 minutes west to Liepaja on the Baltic Coast to the Naval Base for a “fireside chat” seminar to the troops there. After a late lunch we drove back to Saldus to a high level basketball game where Chaplain-general Elmars is also the chaplain to the Valmiera Basketball Team. After a nail-biter of a game, which unfortunately, Valmiera lost, I enjoyed encouraging the manager and coaches of the Valmiera Team.
The final venue for the Military seminars was on Thursday morning at the Military Supplies Base at Vienibas Gatve in Riga. The hour long seminar was so respectfully received with great humour and appreciation. The response to the gospel was very evident and I was thanked by so many for helping them get back on track with Jesus.
The Orphans of Latvia
While I was ministering to the troops our local team was checking on the needs of the orphanages we are privileged to support in Latvia. They visited the Bulduri/Spriditis Centre and presented a wonderful musical Christmas concert together with educational gifts for the children and a warm meal. We’ll be doing that for all the 47 orphanages over the next two months.
Madara is doing so well and looking forward enthusiastically to her next back operation in St Petersburg. She is exercising regularly and walking (shuffling) short distances each day in her training regime. You’ve got to love this girl’s passion and determination.
In the photo below you’ll see Anastasia (front right on the photo) worshipping and singing with our local team while ministering to the orphans. I am so thrilled to see her working with them and ministering beyond her own needs to the orphans. She has an amazing compassion for the lonely and rejected children having had to gone through all that herself. A great way to have harvests of blessings come back is to sow seeds of blessing and love to others. At 15 years of age she’s learning fast.
Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion towards Anastasia. I saw her over the weekend in the Riga Word of Truth Church where I preached, she is looking good. (In the photo on the right behind the music stand, she is worshipping with the children in the Sunday service).
After all the wrangles that my manager, Sasha, had with the Children’s Court who wanted to send her to a distant orphanage far away from our fellowship and help, the battle was won this week through your prayers. A few days ago we received the news that we’d won the battle to keep her in Riga (close to church, youth meetings and the children’s church). The court has placed her with a newly appointed foster family who are allowing her to keep coming to church. Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and generous support.
Dave & Margurita Smethurst