Baltic Pastoral Institute – Day 3

Wednesday, February 26 — Steve and I made the walk to the Baltic Pastoral Institute again today in weather that was still dry, but a bit colder than we’ve been enjoying. Today Steve taught the first two sessions of the institute on serving in your cultural context. He will teach this same material tomorrow night at Matthews Church during their Thursday night Bible Study. Steve spoke of the dynamic tension between living in our culture and knowing it well enough to call it to Jesus while not becoming so much like our culture that we mirror it. There were some very good discussions that came out of this. Steve’s goal was simply to encourage the men to keep looking at their culture and through the Word, prayer, and discussion, to continue to discern the way to engage culture without crossing the barrier into sin and becoming too worldly.

I taught on Women’s Ministry. I began my lesson by picking up where Steve left off and asking the men to consider the role of women with new eyes and outside of their cultural context as much as possible. We talked about the hearts of women and the way that Jesus valued women, listened to them, and ministered to their hurts. And I encouraged the men to apply the same principals in regard to discerning the role of women in the church as they use to engage culture – to look at scripture, to pray and to process with other leaders to come to an understanding of women’s role in the church. We also talked about the structure and programs of the Women’s Ministry at Suburban.

A picture from my viewpoint as teacher -- look at them all smile! (we counted to three)
A picture from my viewpoint as teacher. Look at them all smile (we counted to three!)

We were scheduled to go out to eat with the Smith’s tonight – a lovely older couple from Matthews Church. During the Soviet occupation, Christopher Smith was a Bible smuggler and we were looking forward to hearing his testimony over dinner at a local favorite restaurant named Garlic (even the ice cream is garlic flavored). But we decided we needed to apologize and stay in tonight to give Steve a chance to overcome a cold he has been fighting. It has proven a good decision as I’ve listened to him cough and sneeze as he quietly reads his book.

I’ve included a gallery of pictures of Chuck’s apartment. It is cozy and beautifully situated. We walk everywhere and have no problem getting where we want to go. We SO appreciate Chuck sharing his place with us — it is very comfortable and fun to get to hear about his day each evening and share about our day.

Pray for Steve please! One more day of teaching at the BPI — I’m going to miss those boys! — and then Bible Study tomorrow night. Friday will be a bit easier schedule, especially for Steve, so I hope he can knock the bug that’s gotten to him!

Love and blessings!
Steve and Claudia

Praising the Lord Together

The Freedom Monument and BLUE SKIES
The Freedom Monument and BLUE SKIES

What a blessing to get to meet the people of Matthews Church on Sunday! Probably my strongest impression of the services is that God’s people are so much alike no matter where we live or whatever language we speak.

I am always drawn to worship music and so appreciated the worship at Matthews Church. Worship Pastor Maris Dravnieks leads several choirs of varying sizes that contribute to the Sunday assemblies. I recognized every song used in the assemblies except one. One of the joys of music is that singing a language makes it much more accessible. Because I knew the songs and because the words were projected to screens like at home, I could sing with the congregation in the Latvian language and still know in my heart and head what I was singing! It was wonderful! The mix of instruments included keyboard, guitar, drums and pipe organ. I loved it!

Steve and I were called up front and introduced to the congregation and Peter interviewed Steve, much like what happened when Peter and Baiba were at Suburban. The highlight of the day for me was getting to listen to Steve and Peter preach the word together – one in English and one in Lativian. Peter is an excellent translator and the experience of hearing the sermon appeared to be seamless. Hearing the Word of God proclaimed in two languages at once just felt like a little touch of heaven where every tongue, every tribe, and every nation will stand before the Lord in worship! You can hear Peter and Steve together in the 30 second Youtube video linked below.

Another highlight of the Matthews Church service had to do with the children. Most of the children attend the second service with their families. At both services Children’s Minister, Liene Indrane shared a Children’s Story. At second service at the end of that story all of the children came to the steps of the church and Peter prayed over them, reminded them to be polite as they left the auditorium, and then released them to the Children’s services. I loved seeing all of those young ones — once again, a child is a child in any language!

We enjoyed a “Nearly Normals” style buffet lunch (Steve’s description) with some of the staff from Matthews Church and then back to the apartment for a couple of hours before evening services.

On Sunday evenings Matthews Church is taken over by young people! The services are attended by twenty and thirty somethings. The worship team was a couple of young men and a young woman, the ‘moderator’ was a young man and the preacher was Matthews Church staff person Andis Miezitis – Matthews Church equivalent of our Jamey. Once again Steve and I were introduced and interviewed. Then as Andis taught, Peter leaned in to us and translated so we could also enter in. Andis is a good teacher and once again I enjoyed the full experience.

As we began evening services at Matthews Church we were acutely aware of services beginning at Suburban! Separated by many miles and half a day we enjoyed the reality that together we worshiped our Lord! Blessings on our brothers and sisters in Corvallis! Praise the Lord for His global body – in Corvallis, in Riga and beyond!