What can I tell you about Riga, Latvia? Riga was actually part of the Soviet Union. After it broke up in 1991, Latvia became a democracy and later entered the European Union and NATO. Part of the reason that the Lord led us to Riga is that he has put Russia on our heart. With the onset of the war in Ukraine, visiting Russia became very complicated. However, 25% of Latvia’s population is Russian so it is a great place to go to connect with and minister to Russians.
Riga is a manageably sized city with a pretty historical center. The Latvian and Lithuanian food that we ate was challenging for us to adjust to, but there was a variety of other types of restaurants that served very tasty faire. The city’s main market was the traditional metal and glass structures, but it was absolutely huge. I would estimate it to be at least 8 times the size on any such market that I have visited before. We didn’t scratch the surface. It would take multiple hours to go through all of it.
We ate at an Israeli restaurant. The owner was born in Latvia, had moved to Israel for around 20 years and then returned. We visited quite a bit. He told us that things had been strange in Riga since the war in Ukraine broke out. Many are pro-Russian and many are pro-Ukrainian. When we entered shops or even walking down the street, we got very dirty looks. Our Russian taxi driver, for one, didn’t like us much at first, but with persistent, warm conversation, he got very friendly by the time we arrived at our destination.
While praying in Riga, the Lord surprised us and anointed us to pray against war, specifically the plausibility of World War III. We prayed for wisdom for leaders and that governments that hurt people and rob their freedoms will not prevail. We besought the Lord that destructive armies would not move across these lands. But we saw that wasn’t enough. In their place, we would need armies of God’s servants moving through, bringing the light and life of God in their wake. Only this would truly prevent the destruction of war.
Later on, I visited a former KGB (Soviet secret police) prison turned museum. I knew that I didn’t want Communism and repressive governments to spread before, but I REALLY know it now. It was an incredibly powerful experience. I wish everyone could do it.