I write this entry, not in Tallinn (our new home city having moved from St Petersburg in March) but Riga, the capital of Latvia.
Many years ago, God first spoke to me about Russia (well the former USSR actually) and then a year after that spoke about the nations. Plural.
Now, we live in a second new nation - and you sense that being based in Tallinn, God is now starting to outwork what He said to us years and years ago. God is faithful and true, but you knew that already, didn't you!
I've been in Riga for an event hosted by the Riga church plant. Matt and his small group have been in Riga for about a year. We've been in contact, mainly through Skype, for about that time too, just encouraging one another, knowing we can do more together than we can apart. So my main reason to get down here for this weekend was to spend more time with him, see the city (I'm going to visit a Russian international church on Sunday), and just be an encouragement. And if I can encourage any of those coming from the UK for this event to join him in Riga, all the better!
It's now the afternoon in Riga, I've just finished lunch before getting my coach home in about 3 hours. This morning, I went to Good News Church, here in Riga. It's a Russian church - and it was so cool! It was a BIG church - they had their own venue, cafe, kids play area, huge outside area. There was much of the building I didn't even see. The meeting hall was as big as I've been in for many years. The worship, which started in Russian, was modern, God seeking, Jesus focussed. The large congregation (it was hard to tell how big, but I'd guess there were at least 400 in during worship) were there to worship - not just watch. Though there was a lot to watch - a big stage (which helps visibilty, these guys were not 'performing' but leading worship). It was all being filmed with guys in GN TV shirts - I guess that's their (probably online) own TV station....
Had these guys been in St Petersburg when we arrived there in 2008, I'd either have packed up and gone home, or joined them! (I'm joking of course, but they are an impressive lot!). Like St Petersburg, and Tallinn, Riga needs more churches, so I know Matt and his team have a great role here in the city. I'm excited for them.
At the end of the meeting, really interestingly (I don't recall seeing a response like this for some time), there was a call for salvation. I counted 7 going forward (not massive considering the crowd there). But what I did find interesting, was the age range. One lad, I guess 10 or 11, came forward. There were three much older people also responding - two were AT LEAST in their 70s! There was also a guy in his 20s, and two middle aged people, one man and one woman. So it was a huge age range and great to see three people, at a late age, coming to Jesus for the first time. Salvation, where ever it is and what ever it looks like, no matter what church its in, ALWAYS excites me. God is the God who saves!
Thinking back to yesterday, one of the other highlights of this trip (besides Chelsea winning the FA Cup!!) was meeting a guy named Maurice for the first time. He'd come to help speak and share at this event, being part of the team that helps Matt in Riga. I really liked this guy (even though he's a West Ham fan...ha ha....I say that cause he told me he reads my blog!). He had great character, was humble, faithful, honest and helpful. I look forward to seeing him in Tallinn soon (hopefully in the Autumn). It's great when you just meet someone, and talking with them, you feel encouraged in what you are doing, built up, led in wisdom....great. And that's the 'added value' of being part of something like New Frontiers. The outside help and just encouragement. We aren't alone! (It can feel that way sometimes!).
This coming week back now in Tallinn could finally bring news about our flat - there has been LOTS happening with the banks, not all good, but we stand in faith. When we hear for sure, we'll put that blog out, updating you all and giving you (we hope!) the good news. But for now, we are still waiting, and the clock is certainly ticking!
From Riga I sign off (actually if you are reading this, I would have already got back home. Rachel reads every entry for me, so that I make sense, but mainly because we do this together).
(Left - the most ultra modern trams I've ever seen ran one particular route in Riga. They looked like they were about to take off - really 'Back-to-the-Futureish'!)