My Report On Visiting Riga
Flying over the Atlantic to Riga came with the usual anxiety, an anxiety that was soon forgotten once introduced to the Ecclesia in Riga. I am humbled and exhilarated by the days I have spent here. Humbled because dozens believers in the Ecclesia get up each morning from the shelter, without any home or place to go during the day. In addition they have no idea whether they will eat or if they will face sunshine, rain or cold as they approach each day. They live by faith and in the blessed Hope alone.
In two of three days of lectures there were around 100 attentive baptized believers listening and then discussing God's word. The third day there were perhaps 60 as it becomes almost impossible to pay bus fare for three days running. The interest and understanding of scripture was enriching to behold. During my five days here I have seen four baptism, and it is clear why this happens: the Ecclesia has members of nearly 300 and should all attend at once I am not sure the Hall would hold them! The reasons (as I see) for the baptisms is the strong attention to Bible instruction in every lecture.
Solid exposition gives people hope as they fully understand the message of salvation, the tender mercy shown and acknowledgment of our common humanity provides the loving message Jesus left us to preach. "This is how you will know my disciples by their love for one another". In my observation, the loving validation of the worth of these human beings and the consistent instruction in righteousness according to the scripture produces believers whose passion sends them out preaching. Then they bring their friends and they get that instruction and are baptized and bring in their friends. The Riga Ecclesia in the hands of Duncan's pastoral care has flourished because it sees the reflection of Christ's whole mission, namely a right balance between the expression of God's loving care for his "little one's" through feeding and welfare programs, and the instruction in the plan of salvation for all men.
In Riga this has been offered freely to those whom the world considered worthless but who have been made to know their worth to God through Christ Jesus. It has been my privilege to be here and see these truly devoted disciples. It puts one's fear of flying in the air into perspective when visiting with those who routinely have to put aside their fear of dying on the streets.
Those baptized were SKAIDRITE, mother of sister Sandra, who was present at the baptism in the Baltic Sea at the very spot she was baptized previously. The family were all so very happy despite very tragic lives.
Sis. Sandra and Skaidrite; being greeted after baptism by Sister Suzi and then by Skaidrite's son-in-law. Bro Andrei.
Our two sisters, mother and daughter, eating together at one of the feeding schemes after the meeting.
Then there was NIKOLAY, an older man who at present is living literally on the street, sleeping where he can. You can only sleep in the night shelters in Riga for around 300 nights a year, the rest of the time you have to find your own shelter, and Nikolay counts himself lucky that his "free time" has come in the Summer when it's warm. Spectacles were distributed, and Nikolay was so thrilled with his. Whenever there was a chapter or passage to be read, he eagerly volunteered. He was just so happy to be able to read the Bible more easily.
Spectacle distribution before meeting
Finally NATALYA and TATYANA were baptized, these are two sisters in the flesh now both in their 70s and also living in the shelters. The baptism service was performed by reading Romans 6, an exposition of the chapter and of the Red Sea being a type of baptism, and then we all gave some words of encouragement to these two obviously very sincere and earnest ladies. Affectionate Greeting to you all. Sis. Suzie Lange
Sis Suzie Lange (Bloomington, USA)