CHURCH PLANT IN LATVIA
Meet Pastor Martins Martinson from Pārdaugava, Latvia. He and wife Anda have three children. Pastor Martins has been the pastor of Pārdaugava Reformed Church since the church began in 2015.
Where is Pārdaugava and for that matter, where is Latvia? Latvia, a small country similar to Ireland in land mass, is nestled on the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Lithuania in Northern Europe. Most of Latvia’s 1.9 million inhabitants live in the capital city of Riga. Pārdaugava sits on the outskirts of Riga. Latvians have a unique language and are proud of their culture and traditions. Latvia was established over 800 years ago which is reflected in beautiful historical architecture. Outside of the capital city, Latvia is a country of forests, lakes and rivers. Pastor Martins grew up in a broken home where faith and religion were not a part of their life. When Latvia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Martinson family occasionally attended a Lutheran church. It was here that young Martins first heard the name of Jesus Christ, and the concepts of sin and salvation. When he was a teenager, Martins and his friends started playing basketball with an American missionary. The missionary taught Martins and his friends some English and had regular Bible study together. What started out as an opportunity to play some basketball and learn some English, grew into something far more important. Martins became convicted that he was a sinner who needed forgiveness that only Jesus could provide. As a young man, Martins became an active member of a local Reformed church. Martins began leading Bible studies, helping with the youth in his church, leading the church singing, and occasionally preaching when his pastor was away. Over time, the leaders of the church asked if Martins would consider a full-time ministry position. Because of the small Reformed presence in Latvia, full-time ministry would mean church planting. After seminary training, Martins and his young family returned to Riga in 2015 to begin a church-plant in Pārdaugava. From a small home church, Pārdaugava Reformed Church (PRC) has grown under the capable leadership of Pastor Martins and church elder Robert Smith (PCA missionary). PRC is involved in many different evangelistic outreaches from VBS, Bible studies for university students, youth outreach, and church family ‘dialogue suppers’ where neighbours and colleagues are invited into the homes of church members. Today, in their fifth year of ministry, PRC has 35 confessing adult members, and 36 baptized children. There are many more who are not yet members but are interested in hearing more about the gospel. PRC has joined with two other Reformed churches to form the Evangelical Reformed Church of Latvia. The denomination has been greatly blessed by missionaries from North America, the UK, and the Netherlands. The Christians in Latvia are mostly first generation believers, due to the long Soviet rule. The 50 year Soviet rule left a lasting mark on Latvia. Though there were some underground churches throughout Latvia, secularism took hold under the iron fist of the Soviets. The church was heavily persecuted and many pastors and church leaders were sent to Siberia or executed. The city of Pārdaugava was largely established during this time; there are no old church buildings in this traditionally working class suburb. Today, there are only a handful of churches among a population of 200,000. Pārdaugava contains a cross-section of the Lativan population - young and old, rich and poor, Latvians and Russians. Recently, Pārdaugava has become a University city with over 60,000 students from all over the world. Pastor Martins sees a strong need for a Reformed presence in Latvia. Many of the Latvian churches are engaged in social programs but not in gospel ministry. Most Latvians have a nominal relation to the church; the church is a place for weddings, and ceremonies, and consists of old, beautiful buildings that need to be maintained. While there are many Reformed resources available for those who speak English or Russian, there is a strong need for books and other material to be translated into Latvian. Can you remember Pastor Martins and the Pārdaugava Reformed Church in your prayers. Pastor Martins has also passed on some prayer requests for you.
Patience and steadfastness amid the COVID crisis.
A new building will be needed in the summer.
Growth in love: in love towards our Lord and Saviour, in love towards each other in the church, and in love towards the lost people who live around us.
Efforts to serve the wider Christian community through conferences, and translating and publishing literature.
To the Come Over & Help partners, Pastor Martins writes, “We are profoundly grateful for the support we have received in the past. Believe us - we don’t take it for granted. We know that the need is always present everywhere, so we thank God for every new partner who has it on his/her heart to help Christians in this part of the world. And please, continue to pray for the pioneer work we are doing here in Latvia. The fact that we know there are others praying for us, gives us the needed energy and boost.” Come Over & Help is committed to assisting the Pārdaugava Reformed Church, and other Reformed churches and efforts in Latvia. We are thankful that you also share a desire to see the name of Jesus Christ spread throughout Latvia. If you would like to support this church plant, click here