The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) committed to partner with Peteris Sprogis and the Latvian Baptist Union in Nov. 2015. As the mission partnership is nearing its second year, Oklahoma Baptists have made more than a handful of trips to Latvia, connecting with churches and with communities.
At the end of March, members of the Latvian Baptist Union spent a week in Oklahoma, getting more acclimated with the BGCO and meeting with pastors and church leaders. Kaspers Sterns, who is Bishop Sprogis’ “right-hand man,” made multiple visits including three sessions with different pastors around the state. Sterns major emphasis is church
planting and leadership recruitment in Latvia.
“We are looking for strategic partners who would go alongside us and help these young leaders to develop their ministries,” Sterns’ said. “We appreciate we are not alone in this journey. We have a vision to plant churches and revitalize churches in Latvia. We are thankful to God that we have good leaders, young leaders who want to be a part of that vision.”
Nora Rautmane and Zanna Drunese, women who help with administrative aspects of the Latvian Baptist Union, also came to the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City to learn about the different ministries and support systems the BGCO offers.
Mike Hand, BGCO partnership missions strategist, arranged meetings for Sterns, Rautmane and Drunese. Sternes was able to connect with more than 100 pastors total during three sessions, encouraging them to be a part of upcoming vision trips that are scheduled in May and September. Early reports from the meetings have approximately 10 commitments for the vision trips, and more may be committing.
Hand said the BGCO is willing to support pastors who will go on the Latvian vision trips.
“The BGCO is so wanting to be involved in the partnership that we have set some money aside to help pastors, if they’ve never been, to go on a vision trip to Latvia,” he said.
Members of different BGCO ministry teams were happy to host Rautmane and Drunese as they visited the Baptist Building.
“It was a joy to spend time with Nora and Zanna,” said Wynn Anne Hook who works with state associations and Cooperative Program relations. “They were very interested in the Cooperative Program and how our associations are structured. They are very passionate about their work with the Baptist Union and asked very insightful questions.”
Rautmane and Drunese also learned how the partnership involves more than Oklahoma Baptists visiting Latvia. Hand said they learned different ministries will involve prayer times and mission lessons about Latvia.
“It was very encouraging to get to speak with (Nora and Zanna),” said Glenn Barber, program director for CrossTimbers Children’s Mission Adventure Camp. “I was very encouraged by their enthusiasm to reach people for Christ.”
CrossTimbers’ missions emphasis this summer will involve campers learning about Latvia. Also, high school students who participate in GOStudents mission trips will have the
opportunity to visit Latvia.
“Nora and Zanna were a joy to host and to discuss ministry,” said Amy Cordova, BGCO women’s missions and ministry specialist. “They are making great strides to develop and train teams of women to take the Gospel throughout Latvia. Through creative initiatives, I believe generations will be changed because of their passion to reach the lost.”
Sterns shares this passion of reaching Latvia for Christ. He mentioned Sprogis, who spoke at the BGCO Annual Meeting last November, is a man of vision who has many goals for the Latvian Baptist Union in seeing Latvia become a Christian nation.
“He motivates and inspires people,” Sterns said about Sprogis. “What I really respect about him is he’s authentic and real. That’s why people like to be around him.
“The good thing about this partnership is, because Latvia is a small country, it really makes it much easier to influence the whole country,” Sterns continued. “That’s what our hope is, through this partnership, we could actually not just influence our churches but influence our country.”
Hand is ready and willing to speak with anybody who would be interested in being involved in BGCO’s partnership in Latvia.
“Contact me and give me the opportunity to answer questions,” Hand said.
He also said he wants Oklahoma Baptists to consider two things.
“Prayerfully consider going to Latvia. Secondly, get a passport. Regardless if they go to Latvia or not, if God says to go they need to be ready to go, and the last thing they should have to worry about is getting a passport,” Hand said.
Those interested in BGCO’s partnership with Latvia can visit www.bgco.org/latvia or contact Hand at 405/942-3800 Ext. 4370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.