No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12).
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We started the new year of ministry with a short series from Luke’s Gospel. One of the striking things that we don’t often realise is that there was a 400-year long silence from God before the angel announced the birth of the Saviour of the world. The more you think about this silence the more you appreciate that God is speaking. And not only speaking – but proclaiming truly great news! God in his faithfulness wants to save the sinners from the nations. And as we are do ministry here in Riga, this loving kindness and patience of God is such an important drive in all that we do!
It is our joy and privilege to inform you about the ministry of Pārdaugava Reformed Church over the autumn period. This brief report will focus on general updates, student work and teens ministry. We hope that this will not only inform but also encourage your faith in the Gospel.
The regular ministry of our little church ought to be described primarily as steady. We have had certain set-backs and discouragements, but on average the church keeps its course and has not grown weary. Particularly we are grateful for the often-mentioned bible study group ministry. This year, one new bible study leader has emerged and has been showing good signs of progress. Church members are keen and enthusiastic in their attendance; there is no need for additional motivation. Pretty much everyone at the church is involved in a bible study group which is a real excitement! This year we have chosen to study the Gospel of John. This material is quite unique in its simplicity and in its sheer depth.
As you are aware, Sunday school work is one of the fundamental facets of our ministry (due to some 25 Sunday school age children who attend our church). Since September we have implemented various changes that have strengthened it. Our Sunday school leader Andis Miezitis has adjusted plans regarding the input of volunteers. The hope is that it will make their ministry less burdensome and thus more productive.
Another important aspect regarding regular church life is related to our Sunday venue. In October, we moved to larger facilities. The Baptist church from whom we are renting agreed for their sanctuary to be used for PRC Sunday afternoon meetings. This aspect has triggered some organisational changes and every week there are minor adjustments to be worked at. Generally speaking, the new venue fits the congregation well and is useful for the time being. It is healthy for our church members to sense that there is enough space for guests to be invited. If the venue is too small, the congregation tends to be discouraged in extending invitations to guests. When the room has seats to be filled, the motivation to invite people is fostered.
Autumn of this year has brought not only a change of format but also a change of focus. Instead of running a twice-a-week sports class, we are running a weekly event night and a bible study. Instead of focusing on locals, we are focusing on the international students.
God has given a really good start to the student ministry. The bible study has five regular attendees. Some of them come from Christian backgrounds and others do not. We are very heartened that these young people have a genuine interest in the Bible and Jesus. Studies are characterised by focus, good questions and willingness to know what the Bible says. We are studying the Gospel of John, which is excellent material for the believer and unbeliever alike.
The weekly thematic “Connect” events have begun well. We started with a season opening event at the end of September at Riga Technical University. The gathering was well attended and served as a bridge for the next one. The week after we put up an event called “Are Science and Faith at war?” To this meeting we invited a guest speaker, namely a neurosurgeon from Reformed Bible Church in Riga. His talk was thought provoking and students asked good questions.
These two events indicated that “Connect” might be a useful platform for forming relationships and speaking about the Gospel of Jesus. Yet further developments brought about certain amendments: the students are not very steady in their attendance and their study schedule gets pretty crammed. For these reasons we have had to cancel several of “Connect” events. This has not put us off and we have realised that our strategy needs to be somewhat tweaked. Instead of running formal, organised events, we are looking to connect with students informally. So far, a pizza night and a Sunday brunch have been organised. These meetings were well attended, fostered relationships and stimulated good conversations. It seems that the way forward is flexible informal meetings where we can connect with foreign students and share the Gospel of Jesus.
As with other things at our church, we start ministry around the people whom we have. Since we have three teenagers who are too old for Sunday school, we decided to start a simple bible study that is geared towards them. We meet on Sundays before church, eat lunch, study God’s word, play a board game and go to church together. Once every six weeks we would do something fun, e.g. go bowling or have a movie night.
Interestingly, four teenagers from the neighbourhood have joined this Bible study group. They don’t go to church but they like the fellowship and participating in the bible studies. Our prayer is that this group would grow in their understanding of who Jesus is and why he came. We also pray that more teens would join the group, as time goes by and as our teens invite their friends from school. It is small beginnings but we are thankful for every opportunity that we have.
We want to conclude this report on a note of gratitude. Our gratitude is expressed to you for the steady, sacrificial and generous partnership. And most supremely our gratitude is directed to our great God and Saviour who has liberated us from the dominion of the devil and has made us co-workers of him and his Son. To him be glory!
With love in Christ,
(on behalf of Pārdaugava Reformed Church)
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