Latvia Teachers Conference

What happens in a former Communist country when 182 public school teachers from 112 different schools in 64 different districts come together for a Christian conference? Almost anything!

From the first speaker, we were off to the races. The room was packed full. There was a sense of anticipation. What an amazing contrast. We were teaching and ministering to teachers, enabling them to take Bibles back to their classrooms to protect their students from growing up in the moral-spiritual void that their teachers did. At the same time America was once again grieving over yet more carnage among our youth in a school system that’s rejecting God’s Word. Many of these teachers are not confessing believers – yet they want to be better teachers. Rather than see the Bible as an enemy of education they recognize their need for help.

Listen to the words of an elderly teacher who traveled with her daughter from the Russian border. “For many years I have been praying for such possibilities to share the Bible in school with students. My daughter is working in police with teenagers. She says, ‘I am working with young criminals.’ There is no other way to change our criminal situation rather than to teach Word of God to our future generation. We took forty Bibles at once. They were very heavy, but we really wanted to bring the Bible to our region.”

All day Saturday and Sunday we hammered Biblical themes in our teaching. I concentrated on Genesis 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gen.1:27 NAS. He made them male and female! I emphasized that the sexual confusion of this generation was directly related to their rejection of the Creator. I talked of the different function /nature of men and women, and how, if we are going to teach effectively, those distinctions need to be emphasized, not smothered.

Unlike the politically correct atmosphere I’ve experienced in the United States, these teachers drank it in. We were able to present each teacher with forty children’s Bibles printed in their own beloved Latvian language. Several years ago we were smuggling those same Bibles into the country. Now they are being passed out in the public schools.

One of the highlights of the conference was a fourteen year old boy who sang. He is an orphan and his Christian teacher, who has filled a special place in his heart, brought him with her. Our visits to the churches were also a great enjoyment – one Church especially, where many of the new believers were teachers who had been taught through this conference outreach.

Because of the very limited financial means in Latvia right now, they could not put on a conference like this. We paid for the rooms, food, and building rental. We brought with us gift packets of ladies items, small soaps, perfume, shampoo etc. that were real luxury items. These were put together by a number of churches in the States as a special blessing. We also awarded three door prizes, a vacuum cleaner, a coffeemaker and an iron. Here these items would not mean much but there they were much appreciated.

I was glad that Life Coalition International covered the cost of the conference. What would it cost here to put almost 200 hundred people up for a whole weekend, feed them, and have professional translators? It would cost at least $200 to $300 per person! There, it cost about $40 (U.S. dollars) per person. That’s a deal! That’s why I wanted so much to have LCI seize this opportunity. I know it’s fruit will be eternal. They asked if we would please do another next year. I did not commit because, as of this writing, we have fallen behind financially and need to take care of business.

Just think – right now teachers are passing out Bibles in their schoolrooms. What’s the vision worth? So I ask you to please help. Maybe there will be a day when the United States will look at Latvia’s schools and say we need to follow their example. Why not? It seems just yesterday we were smuggling Bibles in. Anything is possible!

In the Master’s service,

Keith Tucci

Russia

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 NASB

I finished my opening presentation in St. Petersburg, Russia with those words, and waited while my translator, repeated them in Russian. As I left the podium I was met by a young Russian girl whose face was filled with tears. She quietly asked me to talk more with her after the session saying, “I have never heard this before.” I was pleased and somewhat surprised by her strong reaction to what I had said. It is hard for someone who has grown up in a country where we hear about God’s Word often to anticipate the effect scripture has on those who are hearing it for the first time. This generation of youth in Russia and the other nations of the former Soviet bloc has grown up never hearing about Jesus. Abortions are the major form of birth control. Crime, and alcoholism is rampant since the August economic crash because the people have no God to turn to. My heart broke for this young lady and her generation. She had never heard the wonderful promise of Jesus.

On the Saturday and Sunday after the St. Petersburg conference and before we left for Moscow, I spent time with young Russian high school and university students I tried to pour as much knowledge about the Lord and the sanctity of life into them as I could in the short time I would have with them. They are bright, eager and excited about all they have learned. I know they will be effective ambassadors for Jesus to their generation.

That is what it is all about – the next generation. God is a generational thinker. The most important thing about the human rights conferences in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia was not what I said in the somber halls of the Duma (Russian Parliament) but what I was able to pour into young Russian students. Russia is open now but we must not waste the opportunity the Lord has created for us. I found Russia to be a nation of beautiful, empty churches. The nations of the former Soviet Union are in desperate need of discipleship. When the door first opened many missions crusades told the people about Jesus but did not stay long enough to teach and disciple. Thousands have not yet heard and others have accepted Jesus but have not been taught His ways.

I left Moscow after almost two weeks of conferences and flew to Riga, Latvia to join Keith and the teaching team for the teacher training conference. How honored I was to work with people who have a vision to reach the next generation. Life Coalition has invested in the people of Latvia — in Peter a local pastor with a generational vision to reach teachers and in Larry and Debbie, missionaries who came to Riga almost ten years age and never left. We are building on people who are already established and respected in the area.

The work in preparation for the teacher training began months before the event. Letters were sent to teachers all over the nation inviting them to the conference and describing the nature of the training. Each teacher was promised bibles for her classroom. The response was tremendous. We stamped and packaged bibles for hours. The hall where the conference was held will filled to overflowing and still they came. They came from big cities like Riga and small towns and even smaller villages. Teaching them was a delight. Have you ever gotten up to speak and every one is fully attentive – not one movement– not one sound – for the entire duration of your talk? They seemed to hang on every word. One elderly gentleman commented, “What you say is good – I will teach it to my grandchildren.” They were also generational thinkers.

Before I came to work with Life Coalition International, I taught college students, some of them teachers, in a large university. What a difference! Every principle of education that works is grounded in God’s Word. Here, I was able to teach educational principles using scripture to illustrate each one. I did not have to be “politically correct” (translate that as scripturally ignorant) one time. Praise the Lord!

Even after the conference was over God kept opening more doors of opportunity for us. One day we visited an orphanage and played and prayed with the children. Keith and two pastors who were members of the team spoke in different churches. I had the opportunity to talk to a ladies meeting in a church. Most of the women in this church were new believers. Many had heard about Jesus at one of the teacher’s conferences. Because of years of hopelessness caused by the oppression of Communism these women had been abused, abandoned and broken. Many had abortion in their past. I wanted to pour the oil of the Father’s love over these women. Because so many are broken so I taught on the love of the Father and how Mary broke the precious vessel of oil over Jesus. “there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.” Mark 14:3b NAS. I wanted them to understand how much God loves them and how sometimes a broken vessel is more useful because of it’s brokenness. I prayed with them and cried with them. One woman, who had come for the first time with a friend accepted Jesus and her Savior.

God has given Keith a great vision and it is bearing fruit in this next generation.

Pat McEwen