Sunday morning worship on Valentine’s Day found me at Liepa. I was there because I wasn’t able to attend some important anniversary celebrations which were to be held there the following weekend. It does seem strange that in Latvian terms Liepa is an old corps, celebrating as it does this year 20 years since it was started. In many parts of the Salvation Army world such a corps would be considered to be very young indeed! It also must be fairly unique that one leader has been there for most of its existence, which is the case with Inga, ably assisted by her husband, Jānis.
There is always a nice ‘buzz’ about going to Liepa. There were two things which added to the ‘buzz’ this time. One was the fact that it had been Inga’s birthday the week before, so there was the usual giving of flowers and gifts – and food, and the other lovely thing for me was that I felt at home with the people there, and felt I knew them, albeit not all of them by name. It was a good feeling.
The picture shows Inga with her mother. Inga was born and brought up in Liepa, so, quite unusually, her mother is a member of her congregation. Her Mum is something of a rarity in Latvia, because, by virtue of being the mother of a Salvation Army officer, she is a member of the Order of the Silver Star. If you look very closely at the picture you will see that she is wearing the tiny brooch which is the insignia of this quite special award. She wears it with pride, and, I later discovered, it is worn only on Sundays and special occasions.
There is something quite moving about seeing families worshipping together. Whilst it’s true that everyone has to have their own personal relationship with God through Jesus, there is a richness in seeing God at work through the generations. You only have to see Inga’s mother’s determination, for example, to see from whom Inga inherits the drive and energy she invests in her ministry! When I look at their picture, I’m reminded of that famous mother and daughter in the Bible, Lois and Eunice, whose ‘sincere faith’ (2 Timothy 1:5) was such a shining example to the young Timothy.
May Inga’s and her Mum’s ‘sincere faith’ prove to be just such a shining lodestar for people in Liepa today.