… to be a blessing for others. My name is Guntars Baikovs. I am Christian, I am Lutheran. I am husband of my wife Jana, the most wonderful God’s gift to me. I am father of Anna, Agnese, Betija, Dāvids and Daniels, the visible blessings of our marriage. I am pastor in St. Paul’s Tanunda and Zion Gnadenberg and also – I am Latvian. That is true. We were sent to Tanunda from the other end of the world. We were sent here with all that we have – to serve you.
When we confess our faith by the words of Apostles’ Creed, there is not much said about the life of Christ. He was born, suffered and died. For our sake. What are the most important things we could put together to tell who we are?
Born in Latvia, raised under the Communist regime, in a non-Christian environment. Grew up with secular Western values where one’s identity and worth are defined by money, sex, power and popularity. Had a good life if measured by secular standards. Made a lot of bad choices, enjoyed a good career in work and sport, but also divorce, loss of loved ones, and painful destruction of my idols. Rich experiences. Then…
Then God spoke to us; in dreams, through friends, through events. We were called from darkness into light, from the power of Satan into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col 1:13). Jesus spoke, and we were called to follow, leaving our previous life. The Truth about this world was revealed to us, we were forgiven, and our life was turned upside down.
We were led persuasively to join to the one of the strongest congregation in Latvia. ‘Not others, this will be yours!’ There are no accidents for this God. After few years of listening to the life changing words of Jesus, I was called to Seminary in Latvia.
Four years of intense studies. Betija, Dāvids and Daniels were born along the way; usually during the time of examination. Ordained for ministry. Then we were advised to continue studies in America, in the worldwide renown Seminary in St. Louis. Here it was: ‘Follow me and leave your country and your kindred and your father’s house… and I will bless you… so that you will be a blessing.’ (Gen 12)
Four more years full of God’s grace in St. Louis. Two years in Biblical studies, two more in doctrinal studies. Step by step the Lord shaped us to be a blessing for others. First books published and republished. A couple more ready for publication. Then study time came to the end. What next?
Follow me! Where? To Australia? No way! Yes, just follow.
When we give a brief summary of our journey with Christ, people often say that it is such a wonderful Christian testimony, such strong faith and trust in God’s providence. Of course, we realize that one can get this impression. But it is so far from truth.
Every time before the big decisions were made we were scared and confused. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t want to make new decisions. This journey has happened not because we were or are strong in our faith, but because despite of our weakness, insecurity and lack of trust, our faithful God has carefully led us.
Who we are, where we are, what we have learned and done, this is not a testimony about us. Not at all. This is a wonderful testimony about this God, who can pick a mischievous bloke from Latvia, shape him to be a pastor and send him to Australia to serve His people there. God who can give us new home, and to give us new family wherever He pleases. Now Tanunda is our home and you are our family in Christ. This testimony is through and through about our God and your God.
When we look back to what God has done in our life, we should be having a strong faith and trust in this God. We wish it was true. The truth is that until the end of our life all of us, whom Jesus has called into His Church, will live only by His grace, not by our own strong faith. As long as we are listening to His life giving words, we can ‘bear much fruit, for apart from Him we can do nothing.’ (John 15:5)
This is our prayer – that we can bring faithfully His life changing word to you and that by listening to it you may be made a blessing for others.
Yours in His service,
Rev. Guntars Baikovs