You know how we do women’s conferences here, with piles of food, drama, music, and comfortable surroundings. Well, here in Latvia in a Baptist church (the Baptists have been in Latvia for 150 years), these women sat from early morning to late afternoon in straight-backed pews, with a bowl of (really good) soup for lunch.
I kept expecting the group to dwindle. Surely they had children’s soccer games to attend, shopping of some sort to accomplish. No, at five o’clock they were all still there, listening. When someone invited them forward for prayer, they came and stayed another hour.
Part of this picture is explained in new Latvian freedoms. After 800 years of foreign occupation, Latvians have their country back, and their freedom. They are still grateful people. They sit in straight-backed pews and listen all day–because now, they can.
I will never forget one particular moment. A man with a beautiful tenor voice sang the old Beatle’s song, ”Hallelujah.” As if on cue, the whole audience stood up and started singing along. ”What’s happening here?” I asked the woman next to me.
“Oh,” she replied, ”this is the song the crowds sang night after night in 1990 in the public squares, celebrating Latvian freedom.” Such hope you could feel in their voices.
I asked a friend who teaches and travels overseas this question recently. “Do you ever get over the humility that when you “minister” in another country, God gives you back more than you gave?”
She laughed. ”You see God use you,” she replied. ”And you always get reminded that you are not the Big Cupcake.”