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Global Mission

A “Nature Station” in the City

On the street outside an Adventist church in Riga, Latvia, pedestrians often stop by a book house along the sidewalk. This small “house” contains a variety of free literature. Armands, who once pastored this church and is now retired, makes sure that inventory stays stocked for local residents to enjoy.

About a third of Latvia’s population lives in Riga, the capital city. The historical city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site noted for its architecture.

In Riga, Adventists aren’t afraid to try creative approaches to ministry, such as this book house. Valdis, a church member, founded and co-owns a health food store named Dabas Stacija. He uses the store as a place to connect with his community. The name Dabas Stacija means “nature station” in English.

“Our goal for Dabas Stacija is to be a bridge between the street and the church,” Valdis said. “It’s very hard now in this secular country to go on the street and invite people to some events like church or concerts. But if you have connections with customers and they trust you a little, then they will listen more. . . . They see that you wish them well and good health.”

Each year, Valdis has a booth for the store in a large vegan festival held in Riga.

“I have seen how God uses the shop to bring people closer to church,” Valdis said. “In the last festival, for example, I explained to them that our shop, together with the Adventist church, will be doing an event. The Adventist church will provide the place, and our shop will organize the seminar. ‘Would you be interested?’ ‘Yes, I would be interested,’ they responded. And we got many contacts.”

Once people make contact with the church, they are invited to join a small group. This is an important aspect of growth within this community.

“Small groups can do what big church gatherings can’t do,” Valdis said. “Like in the apostles’ first church in the first century, people met in homes, where they could talk about life, get to know each other better, and talk about their challenges. That’s something that doesn’t happen in the service in big worship events. I believe that we need big worship gatherings and small gatherings in homes where people can get to a deeper level with closer relationships.”

One woman who benefited from the small group discussions was Zane.

She and her husband were having marital problems and had decided it was best to separate. Feeling overwhelmed, Zane looked online for a church in Riga and found the Adventist church. The members encouraged her to join a small group.

The first time she attended, Zane sat at a table between total strangers but felt so accepted and loved that after some time, she shared her problems with them, and they lovingly offered to pray for her.

Over time, Zane started to understand her husband better and recognized good qualities in him. This group helped her on her journey to forgiveness.

After much prayer and Bible study, Zane was baptized. Now, her family is back together, and they are grateful to the small group that prayed for them.

Thanks to the Adventist church’s presence in various forms, others have found community and healing through these small groups.

This quarter, a portion of your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will create a new urban center of influence to work together with the health store in Riga.

Valdis said, “I envision that we could have a place where we could combine a small shop, a small cafe, and a small place with books and a sofa with a good atmosphere. Also [with] some advertisements of our seminars and health events, it would be much easier to get people to these events.”

Please pray for this urban center of influence project in Latvia. Thank you for supporting this special offering!