1998 was a challenging year. Our theme “Seeking The Lost” carries a difficult task that our finite efforts could hardly achieve. But the Hand of the Almighty has proven not short as the year of the Tiger rolled. Our man-made strategic plan gave us a glimpse of our direction, but had it not for the Spirit’s intervention, we would have been considered as lost. Despite of the promising record this Baltic Union has brought, we are continually growing to make our strategic plan fully implemented down to the local churches.
Two churches were established in Latvia, and 16 new groups organised across the Baltic Union Conference. There were 10 Bible seminars in Lithuania, 11 Bible seminars in Latvia (five seminars were conducted by the youth in mini-seminars) and 3 Bible seminars were held in Estonia. Baltic Union president and the Global Mission co-ordinator of the Baltic Union had actively participated in 5 major Bible seminars. Their efforts resulted in baptism of 64 new souls. All together, our church was blessed with 285 new souls.
Latvian Conference Radio Ministry is broadcasting weekly on three programs namely: “Christ in Music”, “Rainbow of Faith” and “Prophecies of Daniel for Today”. These programs are broadcasted by the Latvian Christian Radio (LCR). LCR is non-government radio that covers 80 percent of the entire country. Sabbath worship meetings and prayer meetings are also transmitted occasionally. Our programs receive good feedback from many listeners.
Three projects were completed in Lithuania, namely:
- The New Testament was produced on tape in the Lithuanian language.
- A stewardship Seminar was produced on tape.
- One music tape was produced.
The Estonian Conference has 4 times a year access on TV/Radio for free air time. Plans are on the way to use TV/Radio Ministry as a medium to share the Gospel among the Estonians.
Our web site has been operating for a year now. Latvian pages have been visited 400 times, English pages — 1000 times, Russian pages — 94 times, Estonian pages — 116 times, and Lithuanian pages — 21 times.
Brother Laudurgs Zigurds was elected as the next BAUC Treasurer in May 1998. The position was filled to ease the work of Pastor A. Kriisk, who hold Secretary/Treasurer office in the Baltic Union. Pastor A. Kriisk remains to be Baltic Union Conference Secretary.
Kaunas, Lithuania — Part of the Thirteenth Sabbath offering for the third quarter of 1997 was designated for an evangelism centre in Kaunas. The purchase was made in March 10, 1998. Progress is being made on refitting it to an evangelism centre.
Alytus, Lithuania — With the help of sponsors from Germany, funds were provided for the purchase of a house to be used as an evangelism centre. This purchase was made in June 25, 1998. The building is already in use for missionary purposes.
Ogre, Latvia — With the help of the TED, dedicated sponsor and Hands Across funds a building was purchased to house the 107 members.
Valga, Estonia — With the combined funds of the Local Conference and Global Mission this project was completed in April 1998. 59 happy worshipers are now meeting in this new building.
By God’s providence our tithe and offerings are growing in all fields. Our tithe increased 20% from the last working year.
An invitation from the European Council of Churches was received by the Lithuanian Mission Field for an ecumenical meeting in Vilnius among six religious groups in Lithuania. The meeting was held in October 1998. Our church stood as mere observer in this eventful first ever-ecumenical meeting in the country.
The Union president and the Latvian Conference president participated in defending our church status in Latvia. The two leaders were successful in defending our “Traditional Church Status” through the different fractions in the parliament. Praise God for this victory! Had it not for the intervention our church would loose many privileges and probably would threaten our existence.
Division leadership together with Newbold College staff made an agreement with Grigg’s University has successfully made to provide academic training for our workers throughout the Union. With the Newbold College teaching staff we are able to meet the academic work for a BA in Religion every summer in Riga, Latvia.
Of the three students we have in Newbold one has successfully finished his BA and he is soon joining our work in Kaunas, Lithuania.
The Youth Ministries of the BAUC has introduced a project that will involve our youth directly in evangelism. An idea came from the youth leaders to launch the PENTECOST’98 Voice Of Youth evangelistic meetings throughout the Union. A target of 20 meetings was set. Monthly training was scheduled. A Missionary Training camp was set. Quarterly rally was planned and December 1998 was set as the baptismal goal.
In June 1998 over 70 young people came in their own expense to the Missionary Training Camp held 15 km away from Riga. The week long camp was blessed with lecturers from the union and a teacher from Newbold. At the end of the camp the participants were able to identify what type of evangelism is needed for their local church. They have formed their own staff and planned the details of their work and set the date of the evangelistic meetngs. The project is a two-week long evangelistic meetings with a $250 budget. But the work is followed up until the baptismal goal on December 1998.
So, far 6 youth evangelistic meetings were launched. And some are in progress. Young people likes this project because they feel that it’s their evangelistic meeting and not just mere assistants.
Pathfinders’ works are active in Latvia and Estonia. In both countries regular Pathfinder camp are held in the summer. But lack of materials hinders us for a better training.
Sabbath School Work
Eight training sessions were organised for Sabbath Schoolteachers in Latvia. Four were given to Russian speakers Latvians. There were 182 visitors and 500 children. Sabbath school Small groups were also organised in the whole Union.
Ministry for the Deaf
In the year of 1997 through 1998 the Deaf Ministry mainly follows the project started before. A Deaf Bible school was established and continues to function with nine students. One of the major aims of the school is to provide church with deaf Bible workers. Starting February 1997 three students regularly give Bible lessons to a group of deaf attending church in Riga. To be better experienced a group from the DBS participated in Youth congress in Helsinki.
The deaf choir in Riga has visited churches throughout Latvia where there is deaf presence. As a result of this ministry two deaf ladies gave their hearts to Jesus and were baptised. Later, a deaf young man also was baptised. In June 30 – July 6, 1997, the first Christian Deaf Camp took place with 34 participants from various parts of Latvia. Nearly half of them learned about Jesus for the first time. In the summer of this year, fifty deaf persons participated in the second Deaf Christian Camp.
Two colporteur-training camps in Lithuania were organised by some volunteer student colporteurs from the U.S. The first camp was held in Jonava in July 1997 and the second camp was located in Klaipeda in spring of 1998. We have published 10 new books in Baltic countries.
The working year has ended with a renewed challenge of change in our attitude towards a better and efficient organisation. Although, evangelism has slowed down we are encouraged to make a thorough study of our unique fields. This we do in order to implement the right approaches of the fast changing Baltic societies. It is encouraging to see our young people taking the lead in preaching directly the Gospel. We pray that this project will stand the changing times. We remember our workers in Lithuania although, most of them are young are there on the frontier working willingly for the Lord.
The past has always been our guide to move on. Therefore, we have committed the theme “You shall be my witnesses” for our next working year based on the Biblical mandate in Acts 1:8. We give God the glory for his guidance.
Baltic Union Conference President