Daily devotions


TSA in Latvian press

In the end of May we invited the members of The Salvation Army Advidory Board in Latvia to a full day visit to Skangal and Sarkani. One of the members in the boars is Rita Ruska a journalist from the leading daily paper in Latvia, Latvijas Avize.

The visit resulted in a full page report from the Salvation Army work in the area.

Here is a translation of the Latvian report:

"Translation of an article in Latvijas Avīze on June 27, 2012 “Zviedrijas īpašumā – mājvieta latviešu bērniem”by Rita Ruska.

On a Swedish Property Home for Latvian Kids
"The Salvation Army (SA) in Sweden is an old organization with good reputation. As a Swedish ambassador in Latvia, I am proud that it is working also in Latvia and that also Latvian representatives are involved and working from heart and with great efficiency” says Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden Mats Staffansson, adding that his grandmother worked at the Salvation Army and was an Officer.

Last three years the SA in Latvia is led by the commanders Rut and Peter Baronowsky from Sweden. After their invitation ambassador with his mother Kaisa Staffansson  and some embassy staff visited the Skangali manor in Priekuļi region where almost 20 years ago the SA established the Children Support and Social Care Centre, but in the nearby village of Sarkani a Day centre was recently opened.

Olof  Palme’s Sunny Summers
Skangali manor was once owned by the former Swedish Prime Minister Ulof Palme mother's parents. Until the war, little Ulof together with his brother Klas and sister Katharina spent every summer there. Katarina Palme dedicated to those summers her memory book "Summers in Skangale".
After Latvia regained its independence, the Palme family renewed their rights to the manor which during the Soviet occupation was almost destroyed. At that time, the family did not how to use the property.
But flying to Riga the lawyer Klas Palme met with Mr Bertil Rodin, the SA soldier from Sweden. He said that the Salvation Army of Latvia had restored its operation in Latvia and that it was planned to establish a school where children and young people without parental care could live and learn.
But this requires premises.
After this conversation, a lawyer talked to the family members and after a month Palme's family had decided to donate Skangali to the SA. Thanks to the support of Swedish organization and various funds the manor buildings were started to be restored, but the school and children's boarding house was built from scratch.

Home to 26 Children
"Here is a piece of land of Sweden," says the manager Modris Jankovskis, presenting a care centre and its territories. 18 years ago here was a school with six classes but due to a small number of pupils it was closed. Currently the centre is a home for 26 children from social risk families. These are mostly teenagers whom foster families or adoptive parents are reluctant to take, so they have a home in Skangali.
The children attend Mārsnēni school. The 9the grade boys that we met in the computer room talked with representatives of the SA in English. Daniels studied English when he visited his friend family in the US. Educator Modra Šmagre told that not only Daniels, but also other children spent some time in France or Norway where they were welcomed by local families. Last year kids from Skangali went to Norway for a summer camp. This year in July the camp will be held in Lithuania. The financing for the camp is provided by a Norwegian sponsor. 
Children in the Centre also have some chores to do. They are not only studying, but also helping in the household one hour after school – to weed the garden or clear the yard or take care of the green house.
Barack Becomes a Day Centre
A few kilometres from the Skangali Manors there is Sarkani village. The Soviet Union army soldiers used to live here. When the army left, the remaining building gradually deteriorated. The SA bought one of the buildings and renovated it, basically rebuilt it. Now there is a Day centre that is actively used by 18 children and approximately 10 out of 70 adults living in the village.
Ilona and Dmitrijs Konovalovi are working in the Day centre. They are young people from Daugavpils but they met in Riga during their studies. Ilona wanted to become a nurse, but Dmitrijs – a computer specialist. However, at one point both of them understood that they want to do something different in their lives and connected their lives with the SA - the same as Dmitrijs parents did. Young couple graduated the Latvian Bible Institute and this year from cadets they will be ordained as officers.
Meetings both for children and adults are held in the Day centre. This is the place where children like to come back right from school. Here they are doing their home-works, playing table games, learning how to cook simple meals. People in the village have a chance to come to a soup kitchen twice a week, but children can have some sandwiches and tea every time they are here. Here is also a small library, and this summer a football field will be made here. Finances for that are already available.
Ilona and Dmitrijs says that children in Sarkaņi see in the Day Centre that it is possible to live differently – rooms are neatly renovated, kitchen has all appliances, there is clean water. There is a washing machine where to wash laundry and a shower. Here people can also receive clothes and shoes from humanitarian aid.
Inspire to Start a New Life
Life conditions in the village are not bright. There is no central heating in the apartments, there is no hot water, and some do not even have cold water. Apartments have not been renovated for many years and people live without work and in poverty that results in alcohol abuse and crimes. “In these surrounding, the Day centre is like a bright island. We are happy that we can show a different way of life,” says Ilona. She has seen that people are changing, they start to take care of themselves, to look after their clothes, especially when they are coming to our meetings. “We are worried about the youth who smoke, drink, do time in prison. But a few days ago, one guy was released from prison and came to use and he wanted to know if he would be allowed to use the Day centre’s washing machine and shower because he did not have any of that himself. He left an impression that he wants to start a new life,” says Ilona. “We can build not only building, but also people,” that is how commander Rut Baronowsky is describing the project.
For Information
The Salvation Army is an international movement that is working in more than 120 countries. It was established by a priest William Both in London in 1865 when he saw people in need in London’s slum regions, people whom official Church did not accept. W.Booth established a Christian mission that was proclaiming the Gospel and materially supporting people. In 1878 it is was renamed as The Salvation Army.
The SA was founded in Latvia in 1923. In early 90s organization regained its property on Bruninieku street 10a where they have their headquarters now. There are six SA corps and five social institutions in Latvia. More than 1700 people receive help every week.
Lauris Žubulis, lawyer, co-owner of a law firm: “During school years I went to Sweden as an exchange student and there I studied Swedish therefore for 15 years I have been involved in the SA work as a translator and sometimes as a legal advisor. I see how significant is the work they are doing. It is great that the SA is trying to adapt to requirements of a modern world and is trying to make it more updated and understandable to modern society.”
Elita Rancāne, leader of the social department in Priekuli region: “The Salvation Army did not only established a social care centre for children who are left without parental care, but also they are helping people with food parcels, soup kitchen, clothes, as well as spiritual support that is very needed nowadays. Their work is a huge gain for people of the region."


Headlines week 26


- TSA international Website - "ONE hundred years after William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army, made his final public appearance in London's Royal Albert Hall the venue hosted another great gathering of Salvationists at the I'll Fight congress. The event, organised by the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, included moments of celebration, worship and prayer, and words of challenge from General Linda Bond."

A letter to former Salvation Army Officer...

From Stephen Court´s blog - "Come back.
Every honourable reason that prompted you to sign up in the first
place remains.
There are billions headed to hell.
The Salvation Army has the infrastructure, the network, the
credibility, the experience, some of the resources to win the world
for Jesus."


A letter to former officers...

Major Stephen Court writes in his blog  (25/6) a letter to former Salvation Army Officers which is worth reading. Also for us who are still Officers so we do not forget who we are and why we are who we are:

"Greetings in Jesus' name.  Mercy and peace to you from God our Father.
 I trust the battle progresses well on your front.

I'm writing former officers for whom return to officership is a
technical possibility (I suspect there are a handful of FSAOs excluded
by policy, etc.).

Come back.

Every honourable reason that prompted you to sign up in the first
place remains.

There are billions headed to hell.

The Salvation Army has the infrastructure, the network, the
credibility, the experience, some of the resources to win the world
for Jesus.

Politics, mistreatment, bad appointments and leaders, fatigue, and
other reasons for leaving pale in comparison with both the need and
the potential.

The Army doesn't need me and it doesn't need you, either.  But it
provides for you and me both a field for fighting that, when embraced
wholeheartedly and exploited supernaturally, is incomparable.

We could get into covenant and covenant blessings and all of that.
But I don't want to guilt trip anyone.  Instead I'll take a page out
of the perennial US presidential campaign playbook (paraphrasing) and
ask, is your life better since you left?

I'm not asking if you have more peace of mind, more freedom, easier
work schedule, more friends, a more accepting attitude, more perks and
pleasures, more popularity, or anything like that.  I'm asking if your
life, dead to sin and alive to Christ, is making as big a kingdom
impact today as it could be in the officer corps?  Even the great
evangelist Gypsy Smith saw fewer converts/year outside of the Army
than in, so I'm guessing the affirmative answer will be rare.

If by these measures your life is not better, let's get you back in as
soon as possible.

I understand that there is a current commissioner who was 'out' for a
decade so there is precedent for wide open opportunity upon your
return.  Let's test the precedent.

God bless The Salvation Army.

Stay close to Jesus.  Much grace.  Believe me to be,

Yours under the Blood,
Stephen Court


Early Sunday morning in Riga

This week I have been digesting the impressions from the Congress last weekend. I have received many thankful greetings, photos and film Clips.

Wednesday this week we drove down to Daugavpils for the Welcome Meeting for the new lieutenants. (Daugavpils marked with blue on the map).
In the end of the week we travelled to Liepaja for a meeting about properties and after that we drove along the coast up to Ventspils for the first time since we moved to Latvia. Then we continued north to Kolka (all this trip marked with red on the map), a place where the Baltic Sea meets the water from the Riga Bay. Latvia is surely a beautiful country. Here are some pictures from Kolka:
In Kolka the waves from the Baltic sea and the waves from the Riga Bay meet each other. Every second wave from the left and every second from the right.
It is extremely dangerous to swim in the area where the two systems meet each other
Now it is Sunday morning and we will drive down to Iecava for the Sunday meeting. The corps does not have a corps leader this week. Last week we had the Farewell Meeting and next week we will have the Welcome Meeting for the new corps Leaders.

And then it is time for another week...

I pray it will be a blessed week for you
Peter Baronowsky


Pictures from the Congress in Riga

Lots of pictures from the Congress in Riga 2012. 490 pictures in 9 albums!

 Album 1 (172 pictures)

Marching from the Fredom Monument
 Album 2 (79 pictures)
Åtta nya löjtnanter ordinerade
 Album 3 - Day 1 - The march and the Opening meeting (75 pictures)
Kongresskören och Templets musikkår
 Album 4 - Day 2 Open air meetings (32 pictures)
Friluftsmöte på torget framför "House of the Blackheads"
 Album 5 - Day 2 - The Children´s Musical (50 pictures)
Skatteindrivaren möter den blinde tiggaren

 Album 6
- Day 2 - Youth Worship Meeting late Saturday night (16 pictures)
Youth worship service
Album 7 - Day 3 - Holiness meeting (22 pictures)
Riga Staff Songsters
 Album 8 - Day 3 - Children´s Congress (17 pictures)
Barnens Kongress
Album 9 - Day 3 - Final Meeting (27 pictures)
Barnens Kongress tittar in på avslutningsmötet


Headlines week 25

Pastors Urged to Sign Newly Released Code of Ethics
- The Christian Post - "The National Association of Evangelicals has developed and released a "Code of Ethics for Pastors" document and is asking church leaders across denominational lines to sign and uphold its outlined principles in their lives as ministers."

Christian leaders to unite against gay marriage
ABC News - "Some of Australia's most prominent Christian leaders are expected to read out and distribute anti-gay marriage letters at their Sunday services tomorrow.
Statements from Anglican, Catholic and Greek Orthodox leaders have been coordinated ahead of further debate on gay marriage in Parliament next week.

Hundreds of Inmates Receive Christ at Prison Fellowship Events
- Christian Post - "Prison Fellowship, working in conjunction with the Luis Palau Association, recently held a number of special events that brought some fun and the Gospel message to thousands of Northern California prisoners.
According to Rick Atchley, Prison Fellowship's field director for Northern California, an estimated 5,000 inmates heard the Gospel message and about 500 of them made decisions for Christ during a tour of five Sacramento-area institutions that began on June 9 and concluded Thursday.

Film clip from the congress

The Congress in Riga is now over. Pictures and film clips starts to come in. Here is a 13 minutes long film put together by Aivis Ilsters. Later this week i will publish a picture review covering the different events during the Congress.


Early Sunday morning in Riga - June 17

This week the Congress in Riga has taken most of our time. Here is a picture-review from the Congress Saturday:
The day started with a special meeting for the parents of the cadets. Their mothers were awarded with the "Silver Star"
 Ordination and Commissioning meeting Saturday morning. Eight new Officers in the Salvation Army in Latvia!
Open air meeting with Västerås Band and Riga Staff Songsters

Here you can see and here a short video clip from the open air meeting.

Saturday evening we invited to a special Celebration with music, dram, testmonies and much more. Late Saturday evening there was a Youth Worship meeting at Riga 1 Hall.

Now it is Sunday morning and the final meetings of the Congress 2012. And then a new week...

I hope it will be a blessed week for you.
Peter Baronowsky


Headlines week 24

 Heroes of the Faith

- Greg Laurie in Harvest - "Church history tells the story of an aged man named Polycarp who was arrested and brought before the Roman proconsul in the Amphitheater. He was told to have respect for his old age and swear by the genius of Caesar, the implication being that all he had to do was say that Caesar was Lord, and he could go home for dinner.
But Polycarp responded by saying, "For eighty and six years have I been His servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" Polycarp was then taken to the stake to be burned alive. Polycarp died that day as a martyr, as a hero of the faith.
Denmark Forces Lutheran Church to Allow Same-Sex Marriages
- Charisma News - "In a move that could foreshadow what’s ahead for America, Denmark’s Parliament on Thursday voted to approve a bill that makes same-sex marriage legal in Lutheran church ceremonies, essentially forcing the church to perform gay marriages.
Until now, same-sex couples could only get short blessing ceremonies in the state’s Lutheran Church, according to the Associated Press. The law passed by an 85-24 vote and is effective June 15

 Lao Police Arrest Pastor for Spreading Faith
- Charisma News - "Two years ago police forced Asa to sign documents agreeing that he would neither proclaim Christ nor lead people to Christianity. This year, however, many people in Peeyeur and surrounding villagers, touched by Asa’s life and testimony, have accepted Christ."


Congress preparations

These days are full of Congress Preparations. I took these pictures on Tuesday, illustrating the many different activities that took place in the Riga 1 Hall. Friday the Congress starts!

The stage decorations for the Children´s musical are being prepared
The Tambourine Brigade makes their last preparations
Riga Staff Songsters had a four hour long practice with a Pizza break


Early Sunday morning in Daugavpils, June 10

This Sunday morning we wake up in the city of Daugavpils, in the souteastern corner of Latvia.

It has been an intensive week. Last Sunday we had two meetings in Bauska:
Meeting in Bauska Corps
During the week we also received an invitation addressed to "Brother Bishop Peter". It was an invitation to a meeting with the bishops from the different denominations in Latvia. We had a great evening together at the Garlic Pub in Riga. The Archbishop of the Catholic Church, the Bishops from the Latvian Pentecostal Church (they have also a Russian Pentecostal Church), the Adventist Church and the Baptist Church. The Lutheran Bishop was abroad and the Lutheran Church was represented by their Senior Pastor in Riga. On top of that the leaders of the three Mega Churches were present. And the Salvation Army.

House of the Blackheads
Friday we were invited to a big reception in the "House of the Blackheads" in old Riga. Around three hundred people were gathered in the main Hall which showed clear evindences that Sweden has played an important role in the history of Latvia. On the walls there were big painting of two Swedish Kings and one Queen.

Every year the Swedish Ambassador hands out a Swedish flag to a person or organisation that has done extraordinary work for the society. This year the flag was given to the Salvation Army in Lativa. The Ambassador spoke very well about the Salvation Army work in Latvia. He is well informed since he is a member of our Advisory Board.
Receiving the Swedish flag. In the backgound on the wall a former Swedish king and queen are watching over the ceremony

And, of course, a lot of time during the week has been spent preparing our Congress in Riga. Next week is the Congress Week!!!

I pray you will have a blessed week
Peter Baronowsky


Headlines week 23

Russian Youth Stoke Prayer Furnace Flames
Charisma News - "While Americans were remembering the sacrifice of those who have died protecting the freedom of the nation, Russian believers were observing the sacrifice of praise.
Over the weekend, youth from the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB) took part in a marathon of prayer and fasting. Their purpose: spiritual awakening of a young generation of Russians. Organizers hoped the event would motivate all youth and all churches to pray for their personal condition before God, and for the salvation of unbelievers

 WH: Aborting a Baby Because She's a Girl Part of 'A Very Personal and Private Decision'
- CSN News - "The White House is opposed to a bill that was proposed in the House that would ban sex-selection abortions.
In defending President Obama's opposition to the bill, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it would force abortionists into the position of trying to determine the "motivations" behind a "very personal" decision.

 His, hers ... hens? The push to make kids gender neutral
- Baptist Press - "Forget "his" and "hers." Sweden has introduced a new, gender-neutral pronoun: "hen."
Newspaper columnists, TV announcers, feminist bloggers and Swedish gender-neutral educators could not be more pleased. The Nordic country has always promoted gender equality. It has the highest proportion of working women in the world, and females earn about two-thirds of all college degrees, Slate.com reported. But now, activists want to push the matter to its natural and logical conclusion. They want to abolish gender altogether, and construct a utopian, gender neutral society. They're intent on raising up a new generation of children who've been freed from the limitations of stereotyped gender roles.


The General visits the NLDI course

THE visit of General Linda Bond to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was marked by times of influence and inspiration. A day spent with delegates to the Nordic Leadership Development Institute was followed by a public meeting attended by Salvationists from across the country.

Nordic Leadership Development Institute delegates with General Linda Bond

The Nordic Leadership Development Institute gave a week's training to Salvation Army officers from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Romania. The General spoke to delegates about leadership and Salvation Army standpoints on many important topics. Responding to questions from the officers, the General provided information regarding doctrinal issues, the importance of prayer in work and in personal life, discipline in spiritual life and carrying out the duties of an officer.

Two delegates from Latvia takes part in the NLDI course: Guna van der Leij and Andrejs Konovalovs. Read more here.


Early Sunday morning in Riga, June 3

Another week. The summer has taken a break. We have had a cold, rainy and windy week in Riga.

 This week I received some pictures from two activities in Latvia. The first one is from Liepa and the social programmes in the corps. The corps in Liepa is one of the oldest in latvia. It has been operating in 15 years.
See more pictures from Liepa here

The other pictures are from whit weekend at the corps in Iecava. Acorps that has experienced a dramatic growth the last year.
You can see more pictures from the weekend in Iecava here

This week we also had a staff lunch for the Regional Headquarters, celebrating the end of a busy first half of 2012, even if the coming weeks probably will be still more busy with all the preparations for our Congress in Riga, June 15-17.
Yesterday we had our first practice with the Regional Congress Choir. We have so far only had local practices in the different corps. But yesterday we had a full day of practice. People from all corps all over Latvia travelled to Riga for this event. We will be more than 60 people in the choir. Here is a picture review of the choir practice:

Today we are travelling down to Bauska for the morning service. After the service we will have an "Open microphone"-gathering with information about the Salvation Army in Latvia and internationally. When we return to Riga in the evening we will meet Leif Öberg from Sweden. He will be lecturing next week in our Life Skill course, financed with EU-money.
 The poster for our EU-project "Social Rehabilitation and Motivation program at the Day Care Center Patverums"

Then we are already in next week and I pray it will be a blessed week for you.
Peter Baronowsky