Last week we wrote about what happens “when hope comes to town”; about what happened when Jesus brought a young man back to life in the small town of Nain. If ever there was a contemporary demonstration of this, it is here in Latvia.
Some of you have met Maris Dzelzs, our YWAM leader in Latvia, who met the Lord in a Soviet prison after a very rough childhood, finding himself in constant trouble with the police. His own story, and that of many of those who have come to work with him, is that of “hope coming to town”.
Yesterday, after arriving in Riga, as I drove with Maris through the Latvian countryside, he shared story after story of different ones whose lives have been radically changed after meeting Jesus. A young man who was champion kick-boxer, a former bodyguard with a reputation of violence, is now helping Maris build a youth centre – with a sporthall, swimming pool and internet cafe. Some of the DTS students also had prison records and violent histories. Former drug-addicts and ex-cons sharing about their changed lives on a recent outreach so impressed a local non-Christian mayor that he publically declared, “this is what we need in our town!” After they showed George Otis’s ‘Transformations’ video, about the power of cooperative prayer, the mayor has started urging the local churches to work together!
Maris and his team have a huge yellow-and-white striped tent which they take around the country, bringing hope to town after town, as they simply share what Jesus has done in their lives.
It’s a hard to argue against that!
Earlier this week, Romkje had told me about how a student in the Heidebeek DTS had come up to her in the hallway after lectures, shaking his head. Bram had been a professional monkey-catcher for an animal park in Holland. To please his mother, he reluctantly came to a youth Alpha course at Heidebeek – and got radically converted. Due to leave for Thailand to catch more monkeys, he had told his boss that he was leaving the job in order to catch people!
But last week he was beginning to discover what was involved.
“Now they tell me!!” he exclaimed to Romkje. “Now I hear this morning I have to live a holy life!!”
Take a moment to think of all the Maris’s and Brams among Europe’s youth whom God wants to touch and radically transform their lives. Pray for strategic conversions among gangleaders and “leaders of the pack” in your area. May God give you gifts of faith for some radical conversions.
In Jesus our hope,